If you live long enough, you’re going to get older. As I’m getting ready to have another birthday, it’s leading me to do some reflection. A little introspection, if you will.
In an earlier post, I wrote about my love for questions. Here’s a link to the post, The Power of Good Questions. And here’s a quote from it, Questions are powerful. They can unlock the door to your full potential. Never stop asking. Never stop seeking. I believe you can discover more than you ever thought imaginable as you continue to follow the lead of great query.
My annual reminder of the fact that I am aging has led me to doing some midlife meditation. While doing this meditation (reflection), I came across a magazine article entitled, Midlife Meditation – These Five Simple Questions Lead to Honest Prayer, by Mary Sharon Moore.
In this article, Ms. Moore points out how getting older has impacted her. She, too, is looking back over her life. Attempting to make sense of her life. Looking ahead to figure out where she wants to go from here.
She too, has an appreciation of good questions. She uses five to help her tighten up her focus on tomorrow. Here are her questions.
What Gives Me Joy?
Listen to what she says, I find that joy is the necessary thing, a reliable indicator of how well I’m navigating along life’s uncertain surfaces. Here’s her definition of joy, I describe joy as an interior stirring of the Holy Spirit when my life, my actions, my ways of being present in the world touch others in a way that blesses them and gives joy to God.
As I believer in Christ, my joy is ultimately linked to me fulfilling God’s calling upon my life. Another way of looking at that is to ask, Am I doing what He wants/built me to do? Just like Ms. Moore’s definition of joy, your calling will always touch others in a way that blesses them and gives joy to God. Our joy is linked to His joy.
What Robs Me of Joy?
She starts this section with this, If joy is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in me, then I need to pay keen attention to what robs me of it. This is not the same as being inconvenienced. When I feel robbed of joy, I feel a hole in my life, in my heart where God’s joy and blessing had wanted me to be.
This can be a touchy one. Life isn’t always fun and games. There are tough times. Difficult seasons. They aren’t fun. The hiccup up here that is we confuse temporal happiness with eternal joy. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t remove us from the hardships of this life. Scriptures remind us in Matthew 5:45 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
When life is challenging, we must shift our focus back onto what is the eternal significance of the situation. We can’t fall victim to our current emotional state. Ask this question, Is what you’re doing touching others in a way that blesses them and gives joy to God? This isn’t a magic wand to change your situation. And it doesn’t guarantee a change in your emotional state. However, it can help you see that what you are doing is having a bigger impact (an eternal) impact. And that my friend, is what really matters.
What Breaks My Heart?
Listen to Ms. Moore, When I feel robbed of joy, I feel a hole in my life. A broken heart is different. A broken heart more painfully bespeaks something in my life or in my world truly is broken, sometimes beyond repair.
When you follow Christ long enough, you will have your heart broken. Ms. Moore goes on to write, Eventually, heartbreak is the price we pay for living with costly love. It is not convenient love or love that assumes us of love in return. Jesus loved with costly love. And look at the price He paid.
When you are living your life centered around blessing others, you’re going to open yourself up to being hurt. Let’s face it, people are selfish. They will do things that will hurt you. Sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes intentionally.
Ms. Moore ends this section with this, Certain things will break my heart precisely because they first break the heart of God. The heart sealed against heartbreak, I discover, is a heart sealed against grace. To defend the integrity and power and beauty of my own humanity and that of others, I need to be conscious of, and able to name, what breaks my heart.
What Am I Resisting?
Ms. Moore opens with this, As a maturing human being, and even more so as one who is anointed in the Holy Spirit, the very quality of my life depends on my openness to God’s invitations and my responses to them. Vocationally, God’s invitations are no small thing. Nor are they rare or usually for someone else.
She continues with this, God’s invitations, I have discovered, will stretch me and challenge me. They will make me go where I had not thought to go and strive for what I assumed was beyond me. Resisting God’s invitations comes so easily. It’s like instinct for self-preservation, arguing for the status quo, preferring to play it safe and not rock the boat.
I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for everyone. And yes, that includes you. This plan at times, if not the majority of times, can put you on a path that challenges your comfort. However, the life of a follower of Christ isn’t to be lived in the realm of comfort. When climbing a tree, the best fruit is found furthest from the trunk. You must climb out on a limb to retrieve it.
God often times challenges us to get out of our comfort zone in order to bring Him the greatest joy. Ask yourself, How comfortable am I right now? Maybe God is calling you to be little less comfortable and a lot more uncomfortable.
What Am I Accepting?
Ms. Moore opens this section with this, Accepting anything – not grudgingly but humbly, gratefully – is a mature, courageous act. Accepting the unbidden invitations of a maturing Christian life has everything to do with mission, and what I call missional fruitfulness.
She continues wth this, Or I may be accepting the astonishing reality that I am, in fact, gifted enough right now to accomplish certain good for the few whose lives I will touch in whatever time is left to me. I do not need to read one more book, take one more class, or acquire or perfect any more skills in order to be enough for the assignment. I am good to go, right now, just as I am.
God doesn’t waste a thing. Everything that you’ve encountered throughout your life can be used to, touch others in a way that blesses them and gives joy to God. The question(s) to ask here are, Am I using my hurts, my joys, my struggles, my life experience to bless others and give joy to God?
If the answer is, Yes. Awesome!! Keep it up!! If the answer is, No. Ask yourself these questions…
What am I doing with my life?
What am I resisting?
What am I accepting?
Am I using my life experiences to bless others and bring God joy?
How can I use (or better use) my life experiences to bless others and bring God joy?
Who can help me to use (or better use) my life experiences to bless others and bring God joy?
I hope you found this quick post both helpful and challenging. I hope you take the time to do some introspection of your own. After all, we can all use some time to reflect on where we are and where we believe God wants us to be!