From Discontentment to Meaning: Identifying Themes in Your Life Worth Living For
Are you content with life? Do you know your meaning in life? I hear over and over again from women that they are discontent with life. I have been there too. I want to share how I overcame my own discontentment by identifying themes worth living for. I can tell you after a year of implementing it, this shift has significantly changed me.
As one approaching 40 and wondering if I’m doing “it” yet, whatever “it” is, I slip into funks when I don’t know what I’m doing or “do” in life. I can be busy but still feel like I’m missing something. My life can be full of people but still feel a little lonely and confused.
I was in one of these seasons last year and headed out the door for my much-needed weekend with my college BFF, when my husband threw out this challenge— “So, do you think that while you are talking you could write out a purpose statement together?”
But, over that talkative weekend, I took a look at the obvious opportunity, audience, and needs around me. Currently, in our home, we can have an endless flow of college students through our doors. Our main conversations center around freedom in Christ, renewing our minds by recognizing lies, giving them over to God and receiving healing truth in prayer, and advice about marriage or family. We meet for coffee and to take walks, invite for dinner or prayer meetings. Nothing international, nothing large-scale, but I’m seeing the value in the small things that happen everyday as we live our lives. These are “the things” of life that have meaning for me. And that realization has changed everything.
See, I’m married to a very creative visionary who also works in a world where he’s always asked what the next goal is. A book? Speaking engagements? Another degree?
So he comes home and asks me the same thing. What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10? What are your goals? These questions that could be full of hope oddly slide me toward depressive thoughts. Lies about my life that shouldn’t hold power.
I homeschool 2 sons, am active at church, work a part-time job at home, have my box of seasonal crafts, host monthly prayer meetings and open our house weekly to college students, but when my husband asks me those questions I immediately look outside of this circle and strain to think of something else I could be doing. Yeah, what’s my book idea or business strategy or foundation to work for? What area of my life can go big? Why aren’t there any orphans in my house?? I’m not even close to any of these ideals so “Do I impact anybody?” is the lie that rears its head.
Through our weekend these are the 3 themes that emerged that I am most passionate about:
Be an engaged, faithful disciple of Jesus and set that example for my kids.
Be involved in renewing hearts and minds.
Be involved in restoring the family.
If I think of these as the themes in my life I want to invest in, then any coffee date over the superficial and the serious are renewing the mind, taking it captive to obedience to Christ. Any solitude time where I pull away from busyness, is renewing my own heart and mind as a disciple. When we serve dinner and play games we are renewing what family can mean. Many don’t have a healthy picture of family anymore.
We are surrounded by college students who have suffered abuse, hurt, abandonment, criticism, absent parenting, or military shell-shock. Their past is painful and therefore their future is scary. I think people will be drawn to any home where dinner is served, seated around the table, with conversation. That is missing today and they feel it.
The simple act of opening our home and including others, I am convinced can re-shape what family can be. If I see these “little” moments as the great work of life on my path then I find myself teary chopping vegetables and setting the table to include a student who I know that their parents abused and withheld love from them as a child. Laughing and talking about early marriage can be formative for couples staring at marriage with fear because they both come from broken homes. Giving a girl time to hear about her relationships and questions and sharing my experiences could give her path new direction and may just change everything.
These themes that bring others onto the path with me of drawing into an abundant life in Christ, is “the work”, “the calling”, “the thing” I am really looking for. This shift in perspective is changing everything for me. I don’t have to search and start something new. I can see the value behind what I am already doing and it may just be eternal. It feels good not to think about changing everything about myself to fit someone’s standard. I’m learning to walk in God’s Spirit and see that my life is already very full.
My Themes and what they mean practically:
1) Be a faithful disciple and set that example for my kids. Give them an honest, faithful picture of faith. Break from life for solitude. Be mentored by others. Be a life-long student of the Word. Meditate on Scripture while exercising or doing other activities. Live generously in all ways.
2) Renewing hearts and minds. (Romans 12:2) Whether in my own life or others- Give lies over and receive God’s truth consistently. Take any opportunity to do this with others. Playdates. Coffee dates. Dinners. Prayer meetings- All centered around this eternal perspective.
3) Restoring the family. Share life and my family with others. Model family life over meals, movie nights and games. Pre-marital counseling. Talking about intentional traditions or parenting. Making holiday activities for my kids and friends.
I have found a new joy and excitement in looking at my calendar with a few dinners, playdates, coffees and meetings dispersed throughout the month. They were the work I “should” be doing. They add up to a satisfying life. These themes have helped me weed out what I should take on as well. Are there other good opportunities of things to be involved in? Yes, but I may need to say no to keep investing in what I already have.
Is this mediocre? Welcoming His Kingdom come, His Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven into this life and helping others find healing in order to live in victory over pizza and board games? I can be content with that. It sure beats false guilt over all the things I am not doing. I want God to be glorified in the “small” things.
So, to discover your own Themes, start with the Why and consider:
What do you think is the goal while we are on this journey of life?
What are the themes in life you are passionate about? What keeps coming up when you talk about what you care about?
What are the needs around you that you could meet while staying within your realm?
When you define these themes and then look at the big picture, are the simple things in life what are important?
What do you see as the recurring themes in your life?
To find the original article posted on IntentionalTraditions.com, click here.
Jen and Don Love
Jennifer Love is the Author of The Bible in Stories, a theology professor at Liberty University Online, and a homeschooling mom of two boys. She holds degrees in Education and a Seminary degree in Pastoral Counseling. She loves creating innovative ideas to bring fun and learning together, writing, sewing, working with college prayer ministry and looking for adventure with her family. Her husband, Donnie, is a contributing author of the Essence of the New Testament, a Biblical Studies professor at Liberty University and holds degrees in Church Ministries, Theology, Bible and Biblical Theology.
They are the founders of IntentionalTraditions.com, which is Christian community collaborating to revive and develop meaningful and memorable Christian traditions that are not only fun, but also kingdom building and life-giving. A major focus of this community is instilling family traditions (these range from major holidays such as Christmas and Easter to day-to-day practices such as prayer, fasting, solitude, giving, and the study of scripture).
The goal of IntentionalTraditions.com is to help equip families with the knowledge and resources to lead their own families into the abundant life of Christ.