Where are you on life satisfaction scale? Are you feeling that you have finally arrived at destiny you have been working so hard for all of your life? Do you feel like you are energetically pursuing your calling and God’s plan for your life? Or are you more in camp that things are going okay on a day to day basis? Neither passion or peace have come knocking in a while. Now that you think about it, more accurately you are just getting by!
To get a true feel for where you are in your life satisfaction and significance quotient, answer following questions:
Do you feel like your relationship with God is a little distant and at times feel disconnected?
Do you feel that you are working at a job, and it pays bills, but you are not making a significant contribution to world, your community, or even people you work with?
Do you come home at night wondering what you accomplished today?
Are you playing tag team parent with your spouse just to cover bases?
Are you able to enjoy time you spend with your spouse and children, or do you find that you are distracted thinking about other things that you need to get done?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider that this may be time for you to put a plan together for life you want to lead. More importantly, for life God wants you to lead. Less than 5 years ago, I was working in a corporate management job. I worked about 60 to 70 hours a week and when I wasn’t working I was thinking about work. I had all of electronic gear. I had a cell phone and a pager where people could reach me 24/7. I had a laptop that could log in to company computer and provided updated sales numbers by hour. For all practical purposes I had no hobbies, no friends outside of work, and passed my husband and 3 children in night. Even with a nanny, housekeeper, lawn boy, pool guy and any other service money could buy; I still didn’t have time for any kind of quality family time, spiritual pursuit, or health focus. I thought I was happy and doing it all in pursuit of American Dream. At least for a while I was happy. When hectic pace began to catch up with me I looked around and said to myself “what am I getting out of this”? I am never at home to enjoy fabulous house we had bought. I didn’t enjoy my children like I should because I was always stressed about what else I needed to get done for work. I was tired, burned-out actually. My relationships outside of work were on auto-pilot and I couldn’t even name something I would enjoy doing for fun.
The concept of peace; a relationship with God; loving God and other people as a purpose; belonging to a community; combining work/family/church; volunteer service to others; hobbies and leisure time with family; were off of my path. Finally, God got my attention. It was a little dramatic really. And I am sure you can guess I lost all encompassing job. But just leaving job was not enough. I had to make a conscious change in way I viewed world and lived in world. It started with Christ. I needed to stop looking to this world for success because world doesn’t care about me. Jesus promised to always be with me. And then He went to work in my life. Reading His word, praying and following his guidance I developed a plan to transition my life. It is a constant work in process but over past 5 years I have gone from:
•A workaholic corporate manager. •No religious or spiritual faith or practice. •Playing tag team parent and farming out almost all personal responsibilities. •Relationships on-hold if they were outside of work. •Minimal time with my children.
And have moved to:
•Working to help other people. •Feeling truly connected to God. •Taking back responsibility for my kids. •Becoming a part of a church community – through service, worship, and friendship. •Creating a close knit group of friends that includes spouses and children. •Having hobbies and time to pursue them.
I believe this is life that God had reserved for me. It took me 35 years to trust Him and ask Him for His plan for my life. I had no concept. I had no idea how generous and merciful our God is and how faithful he would be. But I had to do my part first. I had to:
•I had to step out in faith.
•I had to give up control of my life to God. (This wasn’t a hard decision since my way wasn’t working.)
•I had to follow His directions and try to be obedient.
Don’t get me wrong; like I said earlier, I put together a plan. I did many self-assessments. Read several books about “meaningful life, significance, family, community.” If it’s a self-help book of any notoriety, I have read it. I wrote in journals pouring my heart out to God and begging for a “flashing sign.” I would even complain sometimes when I didn’t get it. But over time I found that God was leading me all along. I learned that when I looked to Him and followed Him doors would open. When I was feeling peace I finally realized this must be His plan. And He has been so faithful to me it is truly indescribable. After neglecting my family, pursuing worldly success, and completely ignoring God in my life, he helped me anyway. All He said was “I have been waiting for you. I am so glad you are here. The plans I have for you…..” It is so incredibly humbling to see how God can use anyone, even someone as lost as I was. He helped me to find real me. The person who wants to help other people. The woman who needs friends and family. The kid who wished she had played tennis and rode horses. God freed me from my irrational beliefs about success and significance. And He has provided for me even at this late date. At 40, I am still a work in progress, but I am at least on path now. God is amazing. And believe me, if you answered “yes” to any of questions at beginning of this article, I can promise you that He is waiting for you too…with open arms.
So how do you go about doing your part in equation?
1. Find your authentic self. The first thing I would do is to start keeping a daily journal to God. This is a Dear God (I want to share my life with you) Journal. You don’t need a gratitude journal, a prayer journal, a venting journal, etc. You just need one Dear God Journal. God wants to share our lives with us. Let Him be a part of it all. Use this journal to begin to get to know you. Start writing about yourself. Who you are. Who you want to be. What are you frustrated about? What are your dreams? Ask God to help you to find your authentic self. In first few weeks just write what comes to mind. This is called “stream of consciousness” writing. Pray to God to reveal His plans to you. Tell Him that you want to know His plans and that you want to have enough faith to trust Him and follow His plan. Writing in a journal 3 or 4 times a week will help you to get closer to God and to learn more about yourself. See www.murphytoerner.com for journaling topics under Articles. 2. Eliminate hurry from your life. I read in a couple of books, most recently The Life You Always Wanted, by John Ortberg, about relentlessly eliminating hurry from your life. Most of us are swept away by busyness of our life that we don’t even have time to figure out how our lives got this way. But God did not plan for us to just rush through this life. What is point of it if we are just hurrying from activity to activity without enjoying or providing significant input into any. My advice is to start slow. You want to be successful on this one! Obviously you are not going to go from a scattered world wind to a calm and peaceful existence overnight. Start with simple things like leaving on time to get to a scheduled appointment so that you are not feeling like your blood pressure is going to explode when traffic is congested. Say “no” for a few weeks to new commitments just so you can catch up and see what is making you so busy. Start simple and keep going. 3. Start with a blank slate. If you could start all over what would your life look like today? (Of course you have to work with main components - like your spouse and kids have to stay!) Would you be in job you are in? Would it even be in same field? Would you have your kids in 3 different activities each that you needed to be in 6 or 9 different places every week? Where would church rank in importance? Friends? Are you having any fun? This is time to start laying out your life. The one you want to live. DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF YET WITH BARRIERS. Most barriers are self-imposed and there are ways around them. I said “most”, not “all”. But at this stage try not to limit yourself. If I can go from a Corporate VP to a Christian Counselor, believe me, a lot of barriers can be knocked down. 4. Get sound advice. Now you hopefully have an idea about person you want to be and how you want your life to be. The hard part, and where some people give up, is figuring out how to get there. In developing your plan I have several pieces of advice: