Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The making of a better me

2014 has been an amazing year.   I’ve learned lessons that have considerably shifted the way I think about life, love and faith. My biggest regret is the time misused in focusing on the wrong things and failing to honor what it means for each of us to be created in the image of God.

I’ve discovered what it means to live in balance.  This lesson has been a process that began over 10 years ago after things began to fall apart.  All of us endure these types of seasons – a lost relationship, career changes, the death of a loved one or the inability to find meaning – but what matters is we learn from it all.

Sometimes we have to fail before the light bulb lights the room.  Like I said, learning these lessons will alter the way you function.  I like to call it enlightenment. 

This is some of what I learned

Learning to let go of things that don’t mater

My life had been an unending game of grabbing for one thing after another.  I gave things power in defining my worth.  Things were used to determine my happiness.  I limited meaning by playing the game of counting toys and depending on things outside my skin to make me smile.

Things began to change when I moved to Columbia, Missouri.  I gave away most of my possessions.  I took pride in the things collected over the years – furniture, art, clothes, cars – and depended on them to nurture my self-esteem.  Things told part of the story, but none of it came close to communicating what was happening within.  I was changing, but material things interfered with the massive growth begging to burst free.

Letting go was the first step in discovering the power things played in forming my understanding of life, love and faith.  The more I let go, the more I learned about myself.  It’s an important lesson that many never learn.

Now that I’ve been set free from the power of things, I’m able to recognize the power things play in limiting the lives of others.  I now pray for my friends who limit life, love and faith by asserting most of their energy toward grabbing more things.  They lack significant balance.  They find themselves trapped on a merry-go-round that keeps grabbing at things they do not need.  The more they gain, the more they need, because it is never enough when happiness is dependent on things that don’t matter.

Discovering the power of my name

There is another consequence related to grabbing one thing after another.  Our attachment to things leads to undeniable stress, but it also leads to our defining ourselves based on the world around us.  Our opinions and ideas are not our own, but are the result of our desire to fit-in with those who form who we are with their opinions. What we wear, what we think, how we think and most of what we do are a construction of their opinions.

As a result, we don’t know our own name.

We spend our days chasing happiness. We fear rejection.  We fear isolation and non-meaning.  We keep pressing toward the vision of others until our true identity is lost in our pursuit of happiness found in the things we grab for in search of happiness.  We fear pain.  We define pleasure based on the things and people we collect in hope of avoiding the things we fear.

The pursuit of freedom

We are taught to collect things and fame.  We keep pursing things in hope that they will make us happy, but when we acquire the things we seek, we don’t stay happy long and begin chasing something new in hope of finding happiness.

Our life is eaten up with deep anxiety related to chasing things we hope will make us happy.  We worry when something we grabbed is lost.  After chasing one thing after another, we discover the things we thought will make us happy leads to deep misery.

In chasing one thing after another, we lack the freedom to detach from the things we think we need for happiness. Our lives are defined by things and we forfeit our freedom in discovering who we really are detached from the things we convince ourselves we need.

Freedom comes when we give ourselves permission not to chase what we want.  Freedom is learning to live with the things you don’t need.

Living within my skin

It’s empowering to no longer give external things the power to make me miserable.  The misery comes because things lack the ability to make me happy.  But there is more.

I had to learn that I was being trapped by my own ideas about goals and rewards.  I was ensnared by the notion that happiness demands that I find a better place.

Living within my own skin accepts that this is the better place, and that the reward I seek is already mine.  Happiness is not where I live or where I work.  It’s not conditioned by the terms used by others to define meaning and worth. 

It comes from learning to live within your skin.  It means embracing and loving yourself in a way that celebrates the gifts you bring to the party.

Yes, it’s been a great year. I’m thankful for the lesson.

And I love me some me.

Join me by learning to love yourself

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