I think one of the hardest things to do in difficult season…or maybe in our busy, noisy, distracted western lives in general…is to find our center. This sounds all Zen but from what I can tell it comes down to a single question. Who are you? Who are you when no one is looking? Who are you when you are free to make choices without external expectations? And are you OK with that person regardless of what other people think? It is easy to get pulled in a million different directions by responsibilities and life and to lose ourselves amidst the chaos. When a crisis hits we then become swept away by a tidal wave of fear or grief and get kicked around by the waves. The wind and waves of life are inevitable and unless we know what our center/anchor is they can move us from where we want to be without us realizing it.
I picture it kind of like a buoy in the ocean. When the wind and the waves come it will be a rough ride for a while but if your anchor stays in tact…you wont shift very far. If the anchor breaks or you never had one to begin with you might wind up in uncharted waters or on the beach. Either place you are no longer where you want to be and ultimately ineffective.
My center is defined by my faith.
Who am I? Well, I am Lynnea. Nice to meet you. I am absolutely known and loved by my God. Even though I’ve done my best in this life, I screw up A LOT and rely completely on God’s grace and forgiveness to bridge the gap from me to Him. I trust that as I wake up everyday He will help me to become the best version of myself but it will be a life long process.
This might sound overly spiritual but by defining myself this way my anchor is stable despite my circumstances. My choices then flow from this anchor point. I am currently attempting to:
- fight for love and forgiveness/fight against anger and bitterness even when it is difficult…it sometimes seems impossible
- try to be authentic even when it is scary – example: this blog
- fight to keep my heart soft and vulnerable even when fear of pain can tell me to keep it safe and tucked away
- live my life according to the principles outlined in the Bible…even when it doesn’t make sense to people around me.
- practice thankfulness
- daily recognize that I will continue to fail miserably in all these things but it does not keep me from continuing to try
I don’t do these things perfectly by any means…and actually I can’t do any of them without God’s grace…but as I fight for them he is faithful to provide the strength and transform my heart. Notice that they are all internal not external activities like: wife, engineer, success, intelligence, etc. They are all good things and am thankful that they add to my life but I don’t find my center in them anymore. (I’ve tried in the past…it doesn’t work) They can easily be stripped away and then I find myself beached.
Also notice that I use the verb fight a few times because life has a way of making these choices difficult. I have to fight against my own selfishness. I have to recognize that even though circumstances can be excruciating…the only control I have is over my own reaction. I can respond from my wounded places or fight to attempt to respond from a life giving place (very very hard – but ultimately worth it). Fight against a culture that will abandon something once it “no longer works for me”…but really believe/hope that God will keep his promise to work all things out for my benefit.
It’s not always easy and requires intentional choices but living in our center is where we are the most FREE.
OK, now how do you find your center. Excellent question. I don’t believe that everyone reading this is Christian so I will try to keep the tips more general.
- Can you answer the question “Who am I?” If not maybe carve out some quiet space for 15 minutes a day to either write or pray about this. And if your first response is a role you have (wife, engineer, artist) maybe try to dig a bit deeper. What kind of a person do you want to be? What makes you want to be that person?
- Take a hard look at your choices and actions. Do they reflect the answer you gave to question 1? Or do they show something different? Sometimes we can mentally define ourselves one way but our choices show our true heart.
- If there are behaviors you want to change set your intention. Maybe tell someone. Write it on a piece of paper or put something somewhere to remind you. (Similar to a tip on Practicing Thankfulness)
- Go for a walk without head phones/music. It’s springtime and (hopefully) sunny…new life is everywhere. Listen to the birds. Some how walking always helps me to refocus and clear my head.
Happy Wednesday and here’s to surviving another week.