Filling the page with the breathings of your heart feels simple yet difficult. It is, after all, simple to allow the words to flow from your heart onto the page. But to share them? That’s where things get tricky, difficult, risky. Because filling the paper with the truth of your heart, its true breathings and not simply the cursory circumstances of your life, requires vulnerability and, yes, risk. There’s a chance when you share your heart, it will get hurt, bruised, even broken.
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.~ William Wordsworth
Now, you may think Wordsworth’s words don’t apply to you because you are not a writer. But I believe we are all writers, maybe not in the same way as I am, but we all get to fill our paper with the breathings of our hearts, whether that paper is a computer screen, a journal, a blog post like this one, or the new day we receive upon opening our eyes in the morning.
That new day? It’s a blank page and you are invited to write your story upon the minutes and the hours of the day stretched before you. Each choice, each thought, each word, all of them write the story of you. And the story of you overlaps and intersects with the stories of so many others – family, friends, and, yes, strangers. As you face the blank page of your day, you are faced with a powerful choice: will you fill the page with the breathings of your heart, or will you fill it with the superficial things, the cursory things?
Let’s admit it. Sticking to the superficial things is the easy choice. It’s the one with less risk to the heart, right? Or is it?
We are designed for relationship, for connection. It is through relationship and connection that we encourage and inspire ourselves and others. It is where the story of our life unfolds. It is where we fill the blank page. It is also where we create change in the world, where we can actively affect others. It’s where we inspire and encourage them. Aside from missing out on these opportunities, I believe we hurt our heart when we keep it hidden away.
This hurt may not be as obvious, but I believe it is even more harmful. It builds over time, layering our heart with loneliness, bitterness, sadness, and resentment. This hurt causes our world to shrink ever smaller, until we are a world of one. Disconnected. Isolated. Self-focused. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather experience pain, heartbreak, along the way, than to live with bitterness or resentment or the other layers of self-imposed hurts.
For many years I had myriad ways to protect my heart from the potential pain others might inflict. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take a lot of living in this world to learn how fragile the heart can seem. If it gets hurt too often after we’ve shared its breathings, eventually we find ways to avoid the pain our heart can experience. We build walls around our heart to protect it. But in trying to protect our heart, I believe we are hurting ourselves.
And we are definitely not filling the pages of our lives with the breathings of our hearts. In other words, we are but shadows of who we are meant to be.
When we become selfish with our hearts and our lives we miss opportunities to share things that truly matter – the things of our hearts – like our dreams, our ideas, our words, ourselves. To live this way, behind walls and in fear of being hurt, causes us to miss pursuits for which we are uniquely designed.
To live this way is to deny who we truly are and who we are created to be.
And here’s the thing. Our hearts are stronger than we know and they can withstand more than we think. Does that mean it’s easy to share our heart? Absolutely not. Does it mean we might be ridiculed or rejected? Quite possibly. But is it necessary? Unquestionably so. Especially if we want to live out who we are created to be and discover the good works each of us is uniquely designed to complete (and that the world needs us to do).
We must be bold. In fact, we must be insanely courageous sometimes. Our hearts and the world require this of us.
It is only by our willingness to share our hearts’ breathings that we discover our good works. It is only in the choice to connect with others that we have the opportunity to encourage and inspire others. Baring the breathings of our heart makes us incredibly vulnerable , but it also opens us up to possibility. And it is there, in that intersection of potential risk and opportunity, where hope takes root and life is truly lived.
There is incredible reward in the writing of our life’s story. When we choose to fill the blank page of our day with our true self, we experience real relationships, real connections. And the connections we make to ourselves and to others, the hope we create for ourselves and for others, and the adventure that awaits us and others are merely a few of the wonders we experience when we reveal our heart on the page.
For each of us to reach our full potential, living requires vulnerability. Because the story you share with your life will help you as well as those around you to uncover opportunities, good works, and the deep breathings of the heart. And I don’t know about you, but that seems like a risk worth taking every time.