I have spent years trying to live up to people’s expectations of me. I’ve always been surrounded by people who love me and want the absolute best for me. My parents were ambitious on my behalf. They ensured that I had the best education and made it to places that they could only dream of. I’ve been programmed to seek excellence to the point of perfectionism. At times the weight of my potential felt almost crushing. When I accomplished the things I was groom for, I came to the end of myself. I had been running so fast that I fell off the Hamster wheel and landed flat on my backside. It was then that I took the time to ponder, ‘What was God’s original intention for me?’
Suddenly I had reached the milestone and all my cheerleaders and coaches had done their job. I was left alone and disoriented. For the first time in my life I looked up from the books; I surveyed my life and I felt like that person who falls asleep on the train, misses their stop and wakes up at the end of the line wondering, where am I? How did I get here? And why didn’t anyone try to wake me up! Had I peeked too soon? What if after my ‘successes’ I was actually setting myself up to fall from a dangerously high pedestal? Did I really have internal drive, or was the approval of others my real motivation? And what would happen to me if all of that faded away? I felt lost. Suddenly I realised what Solomon was getting at when he said that ‘all is vanity’.
Seeing me through His eyes
I realised that for my life to be rewarding, to have meaning and impact, I would have to go to the giver of life. I needed to see my life through His eyes.
The only sure way to find out what something is made for, is to ask the person who made it.
Seeing your life through the lens of man’s expectations, whether that be family, friends or society in general, is a recipe for discontent, heaviness and frustration. Worse still, it robs you of precious irrecoverable time. However, when we go to God for the blueprint, we learn to run our own race, we find courage to be unique and our lives take shape in ways beyond our wildest dreams.
Working backwards or walking forwards?
The world I grew up in taught me to reverse engineer my life: you work out what you want your life to look like – how much you want to earn, where you want to live, what kind of husband fits into the dream, what schools you want your children to go to etc. and then you work backwards from there.
The bible teaches us something different. The word of God tells us of a God who takes you by the hand and says come with me even though you don’t know the destination; it shows us the Father who made a perfect garden and gifted it to a clueless man; It reminds us of the supra-logical God that told Isaac to plant in a land plagued with famine in order to reap a hundredfold harvest; and it points to a miraculous creator who gave Sarah a child at the age of 90.
Living the dreams of others and shoehorning yourself into the norm puts you in a cage, however luxurious or enviable. Discovering the personal promises of God for your own life puts you on a path, the end of which is fulfilment.
So this is now my prayer: that in every area of my life, from my career to my ministry, from marriage to finances, from relationships to health – I would see Eden, God’s original intention for me.