We got away this weekend and headed to Block Island for some much-needed relaxation, time to let loose and reflect on the five years of marriage that have gone by in a flash. So, I had a little fun with the title of this post.
Devotion is a BIG part of marriage and life. So it deserves to be talked about.
I came across this Mitch Albom quote yesterday, through an illustration by Emily Poe-Crawford of Em Dash Paper Co (that I’ve posted on Instagram). And it just sat with me, hung around for awhile, and planted itself in my mind so much I had to write about it here. So you know for that to happen, it brings up a lot of what I’ve been working on lately. Bare with me as I get deep with you for awhile.
Maybe it’s all the inspirational reading I do. Maybe it’s the personal loss my family suffered this year. But it’s become more important to me that my life start to mean something. That I don’t just talk about the things I believe in but that I do something about them.
And so much of that has to do with this.
- love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.
synonyms: loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, constancy, commitment, adherence, allegiance, dedication
- religious worship or observance.
synonyms: devoutness, piety, religiousness, spirituality, godliness, holiness, sanctity, religious worship, worship, religious observance, prayers; prayer meeting, church service
Living your life in such a way that it offers love, loyalty and observance of the people around you is a soulful endeavor. It does not require a level of religious observance but a connection to something spiritual, through nature, science or faith as the backbone is a guide towards devotion. Devotion to me, is not only these definitions but the actions that are required to fulfill them.
And I repeat for myself, yes A-C-T-I-O-N-S. Actions that embody selflessness, humility, sacrifice, and habit. And let’s get real for a second. Our society doesn’t make some of these easy to achieve. But that’s what makes devotion to anything, work.
I have to continually remind myself that devotion is a practice and like yoga it takes repetition, ritual, and diligence to develop. For me it involves a search for knowledge (through a lot of motivational reading) and clean living (exercise, eating healthy, zero waste) that provide clarity for me on what’s important in my life. For you that practice might look different.
Hopefully I’m not alone when I admit to often getting sucked into a why-is-this-taking-so-long mentality far too easily. And it’s easy to make comparisons and get caught up in the “not enough” rhetoric when your online life receives affirmations by likes, comments and follows. Before it gets to be too much i think it’s crucial to turn our focus to our offline lives. The devotion to loving others starts with the people closest to you. The people who make up your real life vs. your on screen one. Aim to give likes, follows and shares to your real life friends and I’m sure you get them in return.
These people are your community. Get involved with them. Share experiences with them. This is one area of my life that I can easily go the other way in, having a fear of missing out and wanting to do everything. But that only leads to burn out. Devoting yourself to your community around you should also give you space to do the things you need to do for yourself. Devote your community to developing yourself. After starting a Facebook Group, I quickly realized that it was the participation of others and their involvement with the group that had more of an impact on me than what I am contributing. I’m able to get clarity on my own thoughts by seeing what they have to say.
The creation of something is putting your actions into a shape of something. It’s defining something that you can be an active participant in. It took me awhile to realize that what I’m passionate about doesn’t need to be (and might not be) what others are passionate about. This was and still is a big thing for me to come to terms with the fact that social or environmental issues that seem so real and important to me, others could care less about. When I became enlightened to the impacts our bad habits were having on the world, I thought everyone else just needed to be enlightened to it as I was. Especially the people closest to me. But that’s not the case. They need to come to it through their own journey in their own space at their own time. All you can do is keep working towards what you find meaning in. Unlike serving others, in this case, you have to serve yourself. if others feel compelled to find meaning in the things you do, that’s great, but you can’t push them there. When you give to your community and you see no response it can feel like a signal that they aren’t connecting with it, but I choose to see it as it didn’t reach the right line yet. Like a call that gets disconnected, it can just be that it wasn’t the right thing at the right time.
Devotion more than anything, I’m learning, is a personal practice. It can be guided and shaped by community and faith but it has to be a path you walk alone. The alone part is the really tough part for me. I haven’t yet harnessed the power to feel strong and comfortable in exactly who I am. Fortunately I have a husband who helps me see that I am stronger than I think I am. That I’m planting those seeds in writing posts like this, building it with the support of real and virtual friends, watching it grow in a measure of how far I’ve come, and putting it into daily practice in my marriage.
If this resonated with you, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.