“…I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” – Jesus of Nazareth.
Growing up, this has been one of my favorite scriptures from the Bible because it invokes a sense of grandness to life. This verse represented an idea that there is someone on our side who can help us become who we need to be. It represented hope that life should be satisfying; a true satisfaction that runs deep into our heart, mind, and soul, and that goes beyond the material and monetary. I have kept this promise close to my heart throughout my life.
In recent years, as I have begun to read books and blogs from people who promote lifestyles of happiness, success, impact, purpose, and the like; I have found that they have a fullness of life. The ambition, success, and wisdom that these people offer stems from a deep peace within. A peace that they are comfortable with who they are; a peace that they are doing something they are supposed to be doing. This stems from a willingness to accept the bad with the good, and to balance both with the choice of joy.
I can’t give a clear definition of what this “fullness of life” is, but we can ask questions to frame what it looks like.
What do you see when you think of a full life? Is it stressful? Is it busy? Is it peaceful or happy? I believe that fullness of life takes place beyond just a filling up our days. Since this idea is an entire discussion in itself, check out my previous blog; Minutes to read more.
What energizes you? This is a questions that we asked consistently at my previous employer. When laying out goals and development plans, it is key to understand what brings you energy. Another way to ask this question what do you enjoy? This is an important question to answer, because we need energy to keep on moving forward.
For me, I can relate this idea to running. I had run a 60K trail run earlier this year, and one of the most important pieces of advice I received was that I needed to stay ahead of my nutrition. When we are exerting physical energy for an extended amount of time, it is very important to keep your body fueled and hydrated. If I fall behind, it is hard to bounce back from dehydration and low blood sugar levels. On the other hand, if I keep drinking and feeding myself, I can keep running as long as my muscles will let me.
So, what is it that keeps you going? Do you enjoy working with your hands; creating projects or repairing broken things? Do you enjoy making and/or listening to music? Do you enjoy the arts? Do you enjoy having conversations with people? Do you enjoy storytelling, computer programming, video games, writing, reading, etc? Asking these types of questions help us begin to lay the foundation of understanding who we are.
What makes you feel a sense of purpose? Here is a small example from my life: Me and my oldest daughter have had a couple dates win the past couple of weeks that turned into deep conversations about the social dynamics of middle school, and some of the pain that has been experienced there. She shared stories of anxiety, fear, loneliness, friendships, and friendships passed; we shared connecting stories, and talked about the system we are a part of. We also talked about the uniqueness of the individual, and that we are not bound to conform to the way of that system, but rather, we have the freedom to choose our path.
These are only conversations, but for me as a father, I felt such a sense of purpose in those times. There was something inside that was driving me to keep the conversation going, because I had to believe that there was something greater taking place beyond my understanding. Sometimes, tapping into your purpose can start with something as simple as a conversation; all that is needed is time and space for that conversation. In those conversations with my daughter, I found something that I needed to pursue. In those instances (along with just about every day of life with my kids), I saw a need for a father, and I must fulfill that need.
In Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl, he wrote about that very idea. Writing from his experience in the Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust, when almost all of their humanity had been stripped away, how did someone find a reason to stay alive another day? He discovered that the prisoners had to find at least one thing that they needed to survive for. Whether it was the hope that their loved ones ere still alive, or that they needed to write the book that only they could write, it was the identifying of some sort of purpose to fulfill that gave the strength to persevere.
Who do you know? If you are a part of someone’s life, then you need to do your part to be a positive impact in their life. We can only control who we are, and can only influence others; and hat means that you may have people in your life that will have a negative impact on your joy. That being said, we do have the choice to be the good. The people in our life, and people in general, are of the highest value we can find. The premise of this blog is about being intentional about our impact on the narrative of the story we are a part of, and the stories of those we are writing on.
So, what is a full life? I hope that we continue to ask questions that guide us to our purpose and understanding of our role in this world. I shared that scripture in the beginning of this article because it has had a great impact on my life. It has driven me to pursue a love that works beyond my ability to love, and grace that sees beyond the flaws. I hope that we can enter each day embracing a fullness of life, and that we may pursue it relentlessly, rain or shine.