Living with purpose is what I want the story of my life to speak. I hope I am living a life story worth telling.
Two weeks ago I was strapped to a polygraph machine. That’s a “lie detector” machine for those of you not familiar with that. The main theme of the story I want to tell with my life, is that I am a grace filled truth teller.
So why was I sitting in a chair with wires plugged into me to discern if I was telling the truth as a variety of questions were being asked? Well, as part of the process for the career field I’m pursuing, necessitates that you be a person of integrity. It helps identify the trend or predictability of the person you are in the life you are living. The questions from the test are based off of an extremely detailed personal life history questionnaire. The organization doesn’t care about whether you’ve made mistakes in the past. Not being perfect is a normal human trait, and we all have baggage in the closet of our lives we’d prefer never to show others from choices we made during our “worst days.” What the purpose of the exam is to validate whether you are being truthful and transparent about all of you, and if you will be an honest person living out integrity, as you move forward.
We all want to know that our lives matter, we have purpose, are worthy and valuable because of who we are. For the most part, this strive for meaning, purpose, and value is what drives our march to live out the story we want to tell, and we all long for that to be a story that is worth telling.
The decisions you make today will determine the story you tell tomorrow. Your life IS speaking. Are you living the story you want to tell?
When I started my career in ministry, it was motivated by a deep passion to help people experience the hope, joy, and purpose that come through a walk of faith with Christ. I wanted to share what I had experienced in my faith journey with others. High on zeal, and low on knowledge, I adopted what I thought at the time was the best “formula” of behaviors, beliefs, and habits that would produce the result I was looking for. I love how The Message describes this:
27-28 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” (Matthew 23:27 – The Message (MSG))
Within the faith community there is an abundant supply of scripts to follow, lifestyle instructions, and theological reasons to believe. I was in search of the wholeness that only comes through the transformation by the Holy Spirit working deep within your heart and mind, and evidenced in your behavior. A change that only occurs from the inside out.
Just to clarify, we are each responsible for the choices that we make. To blame others is to play the victim and shank personal responsibility. I believe there are a few things that influence our decision making for how we live our lives, and get in the way of living the story we want to tell: reality, blind spots, masks, and potential: what we let others see, the blind spots we don’t see, the secrets we keep, and the motives underlying ‘why’ we do what we do.
The natural result of failure is a sense of shame. Shame is a negative core belief of deep unworthiness that says we are damaged, stained, and “not good enough.” Failure can be the catalyst for shame, or growth. However, the ways we choose to respond to failure, are learned skills.
Sometimes, we make the choices we do, because we want the story to be true…
Every choice we make fills in content of the pages of our life story. The decisions we make in the “Arena:” or the public version of us, matter. This is the stuff that we choose to allow others to see of who we are, how we live, etc. In the arena of reality, you see it and I see it, there’s nothing hidden. It is face value and is just a matter of observation.
The things that others see in us or about us, which we don’t see for ourselves, are called blind spots. If you don’t know what your blind spots are, just ask the person sitting next to you…). Usually these are traits, behaviors, or habits in how we interact with and influence others. None of us is really that self-perceptive. We were wired to exist in healthy relationships with one another, and need each other to grow and develop into who we are created to be. That’s why it’s easier for others to point out our flaws, rather than by ourselves.
The third area is something we all do, and that’s wearing “masks” or only showing others what we want them to see. Much of this can be driven by the context that we are in, and what’s appropriate for disclosure based on the relationship or setting. Some of it though, is really just un-healthy compartmentalizing and secret keeping. This is the area of stuff that I see about myself, but you don’t see, and I plan on you not seeing.
Both these areas of blind spots, and masks tend to cause us the most trouble, and disruption in our lives because we are not living authentic lives when we are not being fully “who we are” each moment in reality. Again, my belief is that shame is the greatest prohibiter of someone living an authentic life.
The greatest area for our development and our growth, comes from the final area, let’s call it the “potential.” This is the storehouse of motives; it’s the stuff I don’t know about me, and you don’t know either. I call this the “potential” because when we can understand ‘why’ we do what we do, then we have the power, and choice, to make changes. This frees us from living with blind spots and masks, empowering us to live in reality wide open in the public arena of life so that truly: what you see IS what you get.
I remember in high school one of my teachers sharing the phrase, “the choices we make today will dictate the life we live tomorrow.” That really is a simple truth, we are a product of the choices that we make. Our choices are the proof of what we believe, how we think, and the values that we hold. The story we write with our lives is the summation of the consistent choices we have made over time. The Bible says that “you will know the tree by its fruit” (Luke 6:44), and this is true.