Last week, we began by looking at our gifts and our value. If you missed this be sure to click HERE to read part one.
You Are Fulfilled by Living Out Your Gifts
Be honest with yourself. You have the power to choose the life you live. Think about what you are striving to be. There are many pursuits you can set your sights on. Are you setting out to live the balanced life? What about the perfect life? The happy life? The controlled life? If you are honest with yourself, you can probably find traces of each of these unworthy pursuits inside your heart. True inner peace does not live alongside balanced, perfect, happy or controlled. These are facades and misnomers that prevent personal fulfillment.
The Balanced Life
I am just going to say it. The balanced life is a sham. You can’t live peacefully if you are trying to equally serve well in every area of your life. It’s not possible to give well in all areas in every season. The balanced life is the modern word for the 70s superwoman. We are not superhuman now or then. The actual word for this kind of life is voluntary soul-slaughter.
We are called to intimately and honestly put all of our desires before a loving God. In His loving way, He moves our hearts and directs us towards the creativity He built in us. When we are living and breathing and moving in the desires He set within us, our paths become narrowly directed and focused. We realize that our life is personalized and decorated in a fashion that was not meant to be all things, all the time.
If we listen to the voice of God speaking to our hearts, He will highlight the priorities of the season you are in. If your child has a need for deep leadership and discipleship, then it is not the time to start a challenging work project. If it is your season to lead an intense Bible study, it’s not your season to plan a fundraiser for a charitable event. If your marriage is suffering, it may not be the time to be a host family for an international student. If you put your desires before Him, He will direct your path.
The Perfect Life
I like the idea of the perfect life because, well, it sounds fulfilling. I’d love to be totally free of faults. I’d love to have all of the qualities and characteristics of perfection. I’d love to be as good as it is possible to be in the past, present, and future. In light of my working mom status, I would even love to be in more than one place at one time. But, then, that would make me God.
When we desire the perfect life, our fears center around failure and appearances. We are often too afraid to live out our gifts because it is too scary to fail. It is too scary to appear or to be less than perfect. The truth is that perfection prevents the good risks in life that bring the most fulfillment. Take a look back at the nine six month goals in yesterday’s post. All of the goals contain risks. Putting out your work to be accepted or rejected? Influencing others to act when they may not? Becoming a voice that could be criticized? Failure is part of the equation. Desiring the perfect life will keep you from the good chance you will take ground for the calling God put inside of you.
If you desire inner peace and the personal fulfillment that comes along with it, you will need to let go of the perfect life. You will need to acknowledge that perfect belongs to God, not you. You will need to stop holding yourself and your family to a standard worthy only of God. You will need to choose to be less than perfect and more of who you were made to be.
The Happy Life
Who doesn’t want to be happy? Blessed? Joyful? Yes, and Amen. But what if you want a happy-go-lucky, risk-free life more than the abundant life God has planned for you?
Living a happy, blessed, joyful life does not give you an excuse to avoid the tensions of this life. In every step you take towards living out your true self, there will be tension. There will be risk. There will be the possibility of loss. How do you know if you are pursuing surface happiness over true inner peace? Consider what choice you would make in the following scenarios. Would you face the tension and follow your call or stand on the platform of risk-free and happy?
You know you’re supposed to accept a church leadership position, but the politics of a woman in this role could be complicated. Do you accept or reject the position?
Your boss keeps bringing to you urgent, unimportant matters after business hours so that you continuously miss your free dive practice when you know this skill is part and parcel to your calling. Do you place boundaries within your workplace or do you overlook the importance of living out your passion?
You put off starting the mom’s prayer group in your city because your neighborhood is predominantly Jewish and you are Christian. Do you avoid what God has put on your heart because the group may not look like what you are accustomed to?
You haven’t applied to Bible college because you don’t have the money. You know you can ask your mentor for a loan, but you don’t want to risk harming the relationship. Do you approach your mentor or put away your dream?
Pursuing the happy life will inevitably cause you to dismiss tension and hardship that arises in your life. If you truly desire to have what you want most and the inner peace that flows from it, you will have to choose hard over happy in the proper season. Calling is crucial. Loving yourself by taking risks is worth the potential short-term loss of the happy life. The reward is an abundance of the happy, blessed, joyful life.
The Controlled Life
What does the controlled life look like? A good example is a woman who won’t veer from her calendar. She has already decided on the terms of her ideal life and has made adequate time to live it. Period. End of her story. In light of the fact that planning and preparedness are good, how do you know if you are living the controlled life? Ask yourself these questions. If you answer yes, the draw of the controlled life has a hold on you.
Do you cringe when you feel the tugs of change?
Do you cling to the status quo just because you like the safety of it?
Do you back away from the extraordinary because you don’t have sufficient time for it?
Do you decline when you are invited on an adventure because you didn’t plan for it?
Are you afraid of the idea of being outside of or away from your city, social group, church or workplace?
I can relate to the fanfare of a controlled environment. There have been multiple times in my life when several things have been out of control at the same time. In those seasons, I long for a predictable life. I want to be able to anticipate what is next. I want to see the outcome when the things that matter most to me are topsy-turvy. I want to estimate the length of the pain. I want the heads up for the future. I want to know how to handle the unexpected turns of life, right now. Seriously, there are a lot of us who would like to be our own little prophet of our own little life.
God may want you to break from your normal routine to bring light to someone’s darkness. He may be calling you to give where there is emptiness. He may be choosing you to do what is impossible for someone else to accomplish. Following His lead could shake up everything you know as normal. When He is calling your name for a purpose, clinging to the controlled life will not bring you peace. The spiritual truth is that, if you are forgoing your calling because you can’t shed control when God asks you to, you are leading yourself away from the inner peace you desire most.
In Living Out Who You Are, You Find Strength
Strength is not realized in doing it all, all of the time. This is called burn out. Strength begins with knowing yourself well enough to know exactly where your passion and purpose intersect. When you know your specific gifts, you are able to take weekly, monthly and quarterly life-giving steps toward your calling. As you live out who you are, you realize just how much you are capable of. Here is your sweet spot. This holy pursuit starts a fire in you that can’t be easily put out. When your God-given gifts are in action, supernatural strength rolls in. When you are living out your calling to the point in which you find your strength, you will find exactly what you desire most, including inner peace.
Wisdom begins with the knowledge of what your gifts are. Syncing your God-given gifts with your daily practices leads to realizing your value. Putting your gifts into practice exhibits your value to yourself and others. The eventual result of practicing your gifts and talents in a valuable way lends itself to personal fulfillment. As you live out who you were made to be in the season you are in, strength appears in ways it never has before.
You are gifted.
You are valuable.
You are fulfilled.
You are strong.
This is the fourfold wisdom for the secret desires of women.
Your soul is at peace.