One of my favorite quotes is by Saint Irenaeus and it goes like this, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.
I know it’s actually a miss-quote but I really like it anyway. The expression “fully alive” really inspires me. It reminds me of Christ’s offer of a rich and satisfying life. It also makes me think of how many of us aren’t really fully alive. We’re alive in the sense that our hearts are beating and we’re walking around, but we’re plagued by unfulfilled hopes, abandoned dreams, and lives that make little to no impact on the world around us. When our ideas of a good time are watching TV or taking the edge off with alcohol, then we’re missing out on a whole lot of actual living.
It seems more like we’re kind of alive but not fully.
There are many reasons why we don’t live fully. Too many to list here. But I thought I’d share four things with you that might help you move to a greater place of fullness in your life.
Never let shame settle in.
Nothing sucks the life out a person like shame. Shame over our appearance, shame over our lack of anything, and especially shame over our actions. I had a conversation the other day with a friend who was wrecked by shame because he lost his temper at work. It’s like he was stuck in that moment, unable to enjoy life. You can’t live fully and hold onto shame at the same time. You can’t learn from your mistakes either. Accept God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, grow from it, and get back to living.
Comparison can be deadly. For years I struggled with comparing myself with my peers in the same age group. Most of my friends owned houses before I did, they made more money than me, and generally seemed to be enjoying life a whole lot more. In addition, my pastor friends seemed to be reaching more people than me, and I imagined that there was an excitement about their ministries that made mine seem boring. When I learned to accept the uniqueness of my own journey, and that God’s blessing and favor were on my life, regardless of my own definitions and expectations of success, I could stop comparing, and start enjoying life right where I was.
Give yourself permission to dream.
Disappointment happens. And the older you get, the more disappointments stack up and it’s easier to stop dreaming than it is to keep getting your hopes up. We focus on failures, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled hopes instead of believing that the best is yet to come. By the way, no matter how old you are, it’s still okay to believe that the best is yet to come. Dream! Have big hairy ideas. Set audacious goals and go for them. Without a vision, we parish so keep dreaming!
Appreciate where you are while taking steps to move forward.
How often do we look around ourselves and express gratitude for where we are in life, and how God has taken care of us? Gratitude is the gateway to joy and appreciating where we are gives us an excitement for what’s next. But don’t stay where you are, keep moving forward. Read another book, take another step, create strategies for reaching your goals and act on them. I heard once that a rabbit’s heart beats just as fast the day before it dies as it does when it’s younger. It keeps moving and running until the end. I want to be like the rabbit. God forbid that I ever choose to bench myself and spend my days watching TV and complaining that I’m too old. There’s just too much life to live!
I hope you choose to live a life that’s fully alive. I hope you accept God’s best for you, dream big, live gratefully, and never stop moving forward!