My son Luke is much like his father. Measure twice, cut once. He’s meticulous in his handywork and thoughtful with every project. Years ago, he admitted to me, “Mom, sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to be a business owner. I’m not making any plans anytime soon to make a change, but it’s something I’ve often pondered.”  I held the phone close to my ear and said, “Son, I have no doubt that you have what it takes to own and run a business. You’ve got the perfect temperament for it!”  We processed for a while and tucked it away for a future time.

After seeking counsel from his mentors, his parents, from several small business owners, from his brothers, and from a few friends, Luke decided it’s time. He loves his boss. Loves the company that has employed him all of these years. Yet, he feels he was made for this, and we see it too. Watching him step out in faith and into the desires of his heart has awakened something within me. Luke feels alive. He’s bursting with ideas. He’s creating something out of nothing.

Recently, I spoke with Dr. Curt Thompson about his book, The Soul of Desire: Discovering the Neuroscience of Longing, Beauty, and Community.

Dr. Thompson shared how if we see the world as a problem to be fixed and not an invitation to experience and reflect God, we will miss opportunities to show the world who He really is. We need to place ourselves continually in the path of beauty for our own souls to flourish, so that we have something to share with the world.

What might that look like for you? Bake cookies (and savoring the experience), then share those cookies with another. Write a song. Sew a quilt. Build a retaining wall. Plant a garden. Enjoy a sunset.

The enemy of our souls is so threatened by beauty, life, and flourishing, that he’ll stop at nothing to destroy it in us before we ever have a chance to enjoy beauty, let alone express it. But if we determine to engage with our world in a way that stirs up awe and wonder, perhaps others might look up and see God for themselves.

Dr. Curt Thompson writes:

For in our deliverance from shame we are not simply liberated to be nicer, happier people; rather, we are redeemed to live into those multiple roles of calling—with joyful creativity.

In Jeremiah, chapter twenty-nine, we read about a time when God’s people were in captivity due to their own disobedience and independence. In some ways, it feels similar to where we find ourselves today as Believers. The people were terrified, dismayed, and distraught over what had become of their homeland. What was God’s charge to these people, while they were in captivity?

Jeremiah 29:5-7 (NIV)

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Build houses. Settle down. Plant gardens. Attend weddings. Increase there. Don’t decrease. And seek the peace and prosperity of your city.

What if we did that? What if we learned to thrive and flourish and create beauty in our little corner of the world?

This is not to say we pretend the bad news doesn’t exist. But is the bad news worse than the Good News? No. So why do we live as though it is?

Drawing from Dr. Curt’s book, here are some practical ways to heal your own soul and to help our world heal too:

Every day, place yourself in the path of beauty…

  • Take a closer look at a butterfly or a giant oak tree
  • Go for a walk along a lake or river
  • Watch a young mother with her newborn baby


Every week, create something beautiful 

  • Cook a meal (savoring every scent along the way)
  • Paint a picture or write a poem or a prayer
  • Write a letter or a new song to the Lord and sing it to Him

Regularly share your gifts with the community around you…

  • Bake cookies and give them away
  • Invite others over for dinner
  • Bring a gift basket to someone who’s walking through the valley right now

May you live on purpose, with beauty and flourishing in mind. Our world needs the gifts God has entrusted to you.

 

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