dog park back head ch rs DSC_0056

I walked by the off-leash park the other day. I watched the dogs for a while after their owners released them. Some stay close to the gate at first, but they soon run for the open field. They expressed such joy in freedom.

dog sq off leash park ch DSC_0062

I’m thinking about “motivation.” It’s the word suggested for meditation today in the Lenten Snapshot challenge I am following. At first I thought about taking photos of the obvious, symbols of motivations for doing what I don’t want to do, like scales or a boot to the rear. But I tend to look for something different, so I began to think about my motivation for extending myself to do what I actually do want to do and don’t have to do.

In the past few years my motivation has changed. I used to base my actions on wanting to please God, please my family, and not annoy my neighbours too much. That meant subjecting myself to other people’s standards, and to some extent, “God’s standards” as defined by other people’s standards (aka their interpretation of the Bible.)

My friend helped me realize that my quest has changed. We were discussing why I can’t seem to make progress on the novel I’ve been writing (mostly in my head) for years.

“You realize this story is about you,” she said.

“Of course, I do. I only know what I know –or think I know– and that is going to come out.”

“Your heroine was born in a prison, right?”

“Yes. And then she ends up in a cloistered convent against her will and eventually tries to escape.”

“You are the one who was born in a prison and kept in a kind of convent, you know. You were cloistered by legalistic religion. You are the both the writer and the reader. You hit writer’s block when you changed your audience to a demographic that would be marketable. You need to free yourself from asking ‘What would please this audience?’ and get back to writing your way out of convention to the place of your own freedom.”

I doodled on the paper in front of me because that’s what I do when I’m thinking.

“You’re good,” I told her. Believe it or not, I ran out of words.

She put her finger on an inconsistency in my life, a misalignment. My motivation used to be guessing at what other people wanted and then fulfilling that need to make myself useful, and thereby avoid rejection. I’m changing. I am looking for freedom.

My motivation is changing. This verse to “the foolish Galatians,” who were trying to gain sanctification by going back to earning approval via the old covenant laws, inspires me to do what I do, to worship, to paint, to take photos, to write, to walk in the countryside, to sit around the table talking to kindred spirits. The Passion Translation (which I am calling the emotional content version) puts Galatians 5:1 this way:

Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.

I took photos as I walked around another park yesterday (aptly named “Idlewilde”). Winter snow and ice still cover the hills and lake. Trees rest in a dormant season that seems particularly long this year. But I find freedom in what I see. I see rest.

Idlewild Baker sq winter 2 DSC_0057

I am more motivated by freedom from performance-based Christianity, freedom from trying to meet expectations that do not come from my loving heavenly father, freedom to be a human being and not a human doing, freedom to rest and know I am loved perfectly by the One who created all this.

I hear him say, “Be still. Cease striving. Know Me. Know that I am God. I will be exalted in the earth. I will be acknowledged by the nations. You are not in charge of fixing the world, nor my P. R.. You only have to extend the love you have known by the power of the grace you have been given.”

He takes off the religious leash and says, “Now run, girl. Run.”

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11 thoughts on “Motivation

  1. Having just acquired a ten month old puppy whose chief joy in life is to run, as far and as fast as she possibly can, I appreciate the analogy you’ve made here Charis. The joy this girl puppy finds in running is a wonder to me, with my problem knees and tired feet. I am held back by this çorruptible, ageing body that will not, cannot, do what my soul wants it to…just run, fast and free and furiously joyful in that freedom. My attempts at running fast and free as a child resulted in a painful twisted ankle, a sharp, unexpected thorn in my foot or a command to stop, be careful, return to control by a cautious parental voice. As I grew I learned to temper my running, and then stop running altogether, because it was simply too risky. How we transfer our natural tendencies into our spiritual pathways! “Draw me after You and let us run together!” we used to sing, inspired by the Shulemite. Like you, I am wanting to run, free, wild and unhindered by religious laws, fear and people-pleasing. Let’s do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. debit01

    I can do identify with this. How to know if the doing is His will or pleasing others. That’s the issue.
    But He is a gentle, kind and patient Teacher. Thankful.


  3. I am a new reader to your blog, and this was so encouraging this morning. I love how you mix photos with what you are writing. Thank you for sharing His gift to you, with us.


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