Learning to Listen

There is always something to be thankful for.

Glennon Doyle Melton. Do you know her? She’s an author, blogger, and speaker, and a few years ago, wrote honestly and openly about a problem in her marriage that almost split them up. She allowed readers to follow along as she and her husband worked to repair their relationship, and, in her words, worked to heal each other.

Then, a few days ago, she publicly announced that after all the hard work, after getting back to a good place, and after writing a new book (set to release this fall) about that process… she is getting a divorce.

“You wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. That you are whole, finally, and strong – but you are now a different shape, a different size. This sort of change — the change that occurs when you sit inside your own pain — it’s revolutionary. When you let yourself die, there is suddenly one day: new life. You are Different. New. And no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore. You are like a snake trying to fit into old, dead skin, or a butterfly trying to crawl back into the cocoon, or new wine trying to pour itself back into an old wineskin. This new you is equal parts undeniable and terrifying.

Because you just do not fit. And suddenly you know that. And you have become a woman who doesn’t ignore her knowing. Who doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. Because pretending makes you sick. And because you never promised yourself an easy life, but you did promise yourself a true one. You did promise – back when you were putting yourself back together – that you’d never betray you again.”

This is what I want for everyone – men and women: to live a true life.

Sometimes, it takes years to figure out what your true life looks like, and sometimes you realize it in a matter of moments. Two years ago, almost overnight, I realized I couldn’t be married to my husband anymore. It was a terrifying revelation.

I was living overseas in a country I had grown to love, I was homeschooling and making motherhood my profession, I was studying Buddhism and meditating every single morning, and I would have told anyone that I was happily married. Then, out of nowhere, it literally felt like someone flipped the switch. I saw all the ways in which I was not happy – all the unhappiness I had buried for years out of fear, out of a desire to force the life I wanted. And I couldn’t live in that forced life anymore.

Leaving that marriage was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also the most wonderfully transformative. Suddenly, the small voice of intuition that had been there all along, whispering in my ear, was easier to hear. Instead of questioning that voice, or drowning it out, I started to listen. And it felt GOOD. It felt so good that it was impossible to ignore it any more.

Glennon says she is a “woman who has painstakingly learned that there is a still, small voice guiding her through this brutiful life one next right thing at a time. And that the only thing she cannot do – not ever again – is betray that voice. Self-betrayal is allowing the fear voices to drown out the still, small voice that knows what to do and is always leading us home to ourselves and to truth and to love.”

Listening to that voice was scary. It meant that people who had been with me – the me that didn’t listen to the voice so well – were going to get hurt. When I told my husband what I had to do, he hated me. When I told my children, they were devastated. And yet, somehow, it still felt right. I knew the voice was guiding me back to the path I had wandered away from – the path to my true life.

Sometimes listening to your intuition may mean the end of a relationship. It may mean a new career. It may mean moving to a new place. It may mean doing something that no one approves of. It will feel scary, but don’t confuse the fear of the unknown with the knowledge that you are making the wrong decision. Do you feel anxiety because you know you’re making the wrong choice? Or do you feel anxiety because you know you have to go down this path, and aren’t exactly sure how it will turn out? Those are two very different feelings.

This is also something you need to know: you can know you are making the right decision, but it’s possible no one else will.

Everyone thought I was crazy. My then-husband believed I was unstable. I had friends who judged me and withdrew their friendship. I wasn’t sure of how things would turn out, and I didn’t know exactly what life would look like in a year, but I knew this change in my life was the right one to make.

We like to tell ourselves that we can control things. We have ideas about the way life should go. Get a good job, make lots of money, keep people happy, stay in a marriage. Do those things, and you’ll have a successful life. But, what if we’re defining success in the wrong way?

“…Success to me is not staying in a marriage — it’s staying in my own peace. At all costs. And so, even when it’s highly inconvenient – even when it feels CRAZY – I will listen to the voice, and I will obey it.”

Want to be successful? Then learn to listen to that tiny little voice of intuition. It’s always there, but rarely screams at you. It quietly whispers, until one day, through all the noise, you hear it a little bit more clearly and ask it to speak louder. Success is not doing things in the prescribed way, but doing things the truthful way. It’s learning to trust yourself, and to trust that whatever is making the world go round has your back.

If you don’t think you can hear the voice, feel like it’s muddled with fear and anxiety, or have just started out on the path it told you take, I’d love to support you as you live a more intentional and authentic life. Shoot me an email, make an appointment, or connect with me online.

You’ve got this.

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