WITHIN, part 5

I have traveled to Paris and New York, and countless other places of mystique.  
I have mastered the omelet.    
I have thrown many real parties and written many real love letters.  
I have established a reputation.

I have given something away just because another complimented it.  
I have fasted for 7 days.  
I have given up something (many things) I enjoy.
I have bought valuable antiques and repaired pieces of furniture by myself.
I have played chess.

I have had custom clothing made to fit me perfectly.  
I have given away a keepsake that held a thousand memories.  
I have documented something worth documenting.  
I have cultivated a hobby.

I have spent a quiet weekend alone,  enjoying my own company.

I have selected photos of close family and friends and have made a wall of photos to remember them.  
I have stayed up all night working on artistic endeavors.
I have bid at an auction.  
I have initiated conversation with only the intention of making the stranger smile.
I have truly celebrated a birthday.

I have prepared a gourmet picnic, and many simple ones as well.  
I have had jewelry inscribed for someone I love.  
I have written myself an advisory note.  
I have danced the waltz and captured Kodak moments.  

I have bought something with the intention of giving it away to one when they are old enough to appreciate it.
I have volunteered for causes I believe in.  
have invested in friendships with the elderly so as to learn from what they have walked.  
I have gone to the opera and the theatre and sketched in museums more times than I can count.

These are characteristics which would make another interesting to me.  But do you know what It is that I have done that was more interesting to me than anything else, ever?  Working at Ralph Lauren.  

Wearing the clothes, enjoying the lifestyle atmosphere, designing for interesting clients, being surrounded by the intricate detail and beauty of it all… that was my favorite. 

Though it may have bored others to tears to hear about the latest this or that, I found it grand, inspiring, life-giving.  And it showed in my life, my face, my moods.

Many would call that materialistic, or trivial, or selfish.  I have called it all of those things, and more.
  I sacrificed it even, because I believed it was inherently just not valuable enough to spend my days, "waste my life" on.  But it is what I enjoyed most.  

I truly loved it.  

I am not sure there is anything else I have ever enjoyed so much. 

When I chose to give it up to follow my husband, pursue homeschooling my children and investing for the Kingdom in my family, I gave up much of the part of me that I enjoyed as well.  Additionally I gave up certain shades of joy and passion that once flowed from me.  

I thought I had to choose the hardest way, the most sacrificial - its what I was taught.  But so much of me has been lost in that pursuit.     So much so that I am no longer interesting to myself. 

How does one pursue what they love when they feel guilty about loving it?  How does one freely exercise their talents and giftings when they seemingly have nothing to do with furthering the Kingdom?   Why must I feel guilty about everything, all of the time?

Through tears I confess all of this to Doug, who calmly and lovingly looks at me and simply says, "Welcome back."