When my husband and I first got engaged, we spent a lot of time in each other’s apartments talking and looking at all the stuff from our past lives. I’d read him poems. He’d question my choices in music. We’d laugh at old photos.
One particular time he zeroed in on a picture of me posed in a black halter dress with a plunging neckline. “I don’t think you should wear that anymore,” he said.
I could hear the concern in his voice, but I could also hear a bit of disapproval.
I don’t remember my specific reaction, but I’m pretty sure I fired off something passive aggressive that assured him he wasn’t the boss of me.
I never made it a habit of wearing revealing clothes, but sometimes I wore things that pushed the line a bit. You could say I wanted to be treasured by a man so badly that I was willing to use my clothes to seduce him if I thought I had to.
In the culture we live in, it’s not hard to find books, articles, movies and TV shows that promote the idea of seduction. That inspire us to manipulate ourselves and others to get what we want. But does that make us any better? In my case, it didn’t. I only became more self-serving, attention-seeking, and unhappy.
I recently spoke to a friend who put everything in perspective for me. She said it all goes back to the heart.
“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
The Bible tells us we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) capable of being self-centered and that our hearts can be deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). But it also says when we draw close to God, He is the “strength of our hearts and our portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
I was deceived when I thought I could manipulate my way into happiness, but eventually God changed my heart and allowed that conversation with my then-fiance to inspire me. It made me reevaluate my behavior, consider why he would be so concerned, and realize that it was more important that I was already treasured by God.
I think it made me better.
Although it’s natural for people to be self-oriented, I think inspiration that makes us better causes us to do more looking outside of ourselves, primarily towards God. And I’ve come to the conclusion that finding that type of inspiration takes a process. It’s a process that helps us guard our hearts and grow as people who behave with humility.
If you’ve ever been inspired in a positive way, you’ve probably done these four things without even realizing it:
1. Prepare your heart and make space for things to feed your soul in a positive way.
2. Identify something inspiring that reflects the principles you value and enables you to look outside yourself.
3. Apply that inspiration to your life and let it encourage you to do something.
4. Share that inspiration and/or its fruit in a way that not only enriches our lives, but glorifies God and has the potential to inspire others.
Of course, no one is perfect and at some point we all find ourselves drawn to things that inspire us in ways that don’t make us consider others as we consider ourselves. But we have to learn from those experiences, and continue seeking the inspiration that makes us better.
This is Day 3 of the series, 31 Days of Inspired Living. Over the next four weeks, I’ll breakdown that 4-step process of finding the inspiration that makes us better, and show what it may look like in our lives. I’ll also offer some encouragement for your journey. In case you missed a day, you can find previous posts in the series here.