Let Your Life Speak

Let Your Life Speak

I was recently given a copy of Parker Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak. Parker writes from more of a Quaker perspective and I’ve really enjoyed it (as I have with other Anabaptist roots the last few years). The book is now almost twenty years old and has become a bit of a classic when it comes to hearing from God on how we live our lives faithfully to what God has given each of us. As a pastor, I talk often with people who are attempting to discern God’s will for their lives in areas both big and small. Parker offers quite a bit of perspective in navigating these questions.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“True self, when violated, will always resist us, sometimes at great cost, holding our lives in check until we honor its truth.”

“That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for ‘voice.’ Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live—but the standards by which I cannot help but lie if I am living my own life.”

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks—we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”

“Vocation at its deepest level is not, ‘Oh, boy, do I want to go to this strange place where I have to learn a new way to live and where no one, including me, understands what I’m doing.’ Vocation at its deepest level is, ‘This is something I can’t not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain to anyone else and don’t fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling.'”

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

“Where do people find the courage to live divided no more when they know they will be punished for it? The answer I have seen in the lives of people like Rosa Parks is simple: these people have transformed the notion of punishment itself. They have come to understand that no punishment anyone might inflict on them could possibly be worse than the punishment they inflict on themselves by conspiring in their own diminishment.”

“There is as much guidance in what does not and cannot happen in my life as there is in what can and does—maybe more.”

“If we lived close to nature in an agricultural society, the seasons as metaphor and fact would continually frame our lives. But the master metaphor of our era does not come from agriculture—it comes from manufacturing. We do not believe that we ‘grow’ our lives—we believe that we ‘make’ them. Just listen to how we use the word in everyday speech: we make time, make friends, make meaning, make money, make a living, make love. I once heard Alan Watts observe that a Chinese child will ask, ‘How does a baby grow?’ But an American child will ask, ‘How do you make a baby?’ From an early age, we absorb our culture’s arrogant conviction that we manufacture everything, reducing the world to mere ‘raw material’ that lacks all value until we impose our designs and labor on it.”

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Adjunct Professor | Husband to Michelle | Dad of 5 | Committed Yankees fan

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