Picture a roller coaster. You settle into a car in the train, and it starts moving toward the first hill. It’s a long, slow climb and you brace yourself for the inevitable: the whoosh down the slope and the rest of the ride.
Weeks one through four of purpose group were that slow climb. The challenging review of attitudes, habits and experiences that hindered or helped, which shaped us. And we knew that the concluding weeks would build on that work, and take us on the more enjoyable ‘whoosh’ of the next phase – looking at our dreams, passions, goals and plans – based on what we had discovered thusfar, and what God was speaking to us about for the future.
I am writing this in two separate posts; first about week 5, then about week 6 and wrap up comments. Thank you for journeying with me…
The exercises prior to this meeting were designed to help us discover what inspires us and why, to share past successes, unleash our passions, picture ourselves in the future we desire, and thank God for, well, everything!
One of the written exercises was to answer the question: “If you had unlimited resources and could do anything, what would your life look like?” My initial thoughts were selfish. I envisioned freedom from wage slavery and commuting to a job that was not my passion. I saw myself living in a lovely condo, where I would spend my days reading, writing, praying, walking, cooking, getting together with friends and family, volunteering, going on mission trips, visiting my sister in Arizona and relatives in Europe – a simple stress-free life.
Then my vision expanded – that thrilling word ‘unlimited’ – led me to envision a country retreat for writers, artists and other creative types. I would have a home on the property, and the business end of things would be run by someone else. The centre would offer courses, seminars, prayer, group activities and private space for reflection and creativity.
Frankly, I felt like an imposter answering this question. I honestly don’t feel that anything I have done would qualify as a ‘success’, certainly not by the definition put forth by our culture, and many people, today. Compared to many, I am a failure – the end.
But I pushed past that sense of inadequacy to recognize the fact that, what is hard for one person is simple for another, and vice versa.
Among my successes were:
Moving out at the age of 22 and making my way in the world. This is something that was simply not done in my ethnic group, culture or family; it was a shock to them. My mother cried endlessly and my grandmother had nightmares about what could happen to me ‘out there’. By God’s grace, I managed to do it – without getting injured or murdered or ending up on the streets.
My marriage, though it ended in divorce, tested my character and helped me grow. I came through it like a shipwreck survivor. Happy to be alive, needing care and help, but later realizing that I was stronger than I thought I was.
Buying my first home was a big deal for me. Because it was a gift from God in answer to years of prayer, I was able to do it. There were a lot of decisions to be made and a relatively short time frame – a challenge for a procrastinating fraidy cat like me – but I made it! With the help of lots of good folk, family and friends, and God’s grace, which covered it all. Yes, in retrospect, I would have done some things differently, but I love my condo. When I come home from a long day at work, I walk through the door and say “Thank you Lord!”
I struggled with this one. I feel deeply about some things. There are activities I enjoy. But passion is not a state of being I have experienced – at least, not that I could remember. Not in the way that fellow group members did. This is something I need to reflect upon and pray about.
God is Good
To me, that is a fact. Despite pain and loss and inner wounds and challenges and tough breaks. Life is limited. Human beings are broken. But there is HOPE – and His name is Jesus.
Vera, this is so interesting. I think asking people these questions and having a safe place to answer them is valuable. I often counsel people to identify their goals. Without goals, we have no desires and without desires we won’t put much energy out.
Having said that, though, my idea of success has changed. Now I see it merely as being a good and diligent person, taking care of each day’s challenges as they come and letting tomorrow take care of its challenges (as Paul advised — at least I think it was Paul) and staying healthy so I can take care of myself and others as best I can.
I also believe in being unbelievably grateful. One cannot feel sorry for oneself when one counts blessings.
I am passionate about quite a few things: peace, equality, women’s rights, children’s rights, animal rights, the environment, ending violence, ending suffering, making this a beautiful, scientific, harmonious world. But achieving those things starts in my own household. I cannot make the world right, if I am not living those principles and goals myself. And the best place for me to find the wisdom as to how to do that, and the comfort, and the encouragement and the strength, is in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
I am glad you are doing this because it makes me ‘live’ it right along with you.
Thank you, Beth, for sharing, for your thoughtful comments. I know you truly ‘get it’ on every level – professional, personal and spiritual. I truly feel sorry for people who – through fear or ignorance – neglect to reflect on these things. I don’t believe in physical evolution but I believe in spiritual evolution. If we are not changing and growing, then we are – not just stagnating, but regressing. Andrea really does have the passion, the training and the experience, to lead women in this process. I think you and she would get along swimmingly 🙂
I think we would! And just so you know, I do of course believe in historic species evolution but I also see man’s spiritual nature that sets us apart from the animal kingdom. That spirituality and self-awareness had to come from somewhere else. So we can agree on that. As for the physical record, it is clear from carbon and ice dating and I see no contradiction with Christian doctrine at all there. That was one major contribution to my Catholic faith from Mary Baker Eddy. Most important is to emulate Christ, who I do believe was very scientific in his approach to the world. If we follow Him, we will be more like Him.
I should also say, we are to copy Him, do what He tells us we must do and mimic His actual example.
“God is Good. To me that is a fact.” I love that, Vera, and I’m right there with you! 🙂
Amen! Thanks Vicky. Hope all is well with you and that God is taking good care of you and your mother and the rest of your large loving family 🙂