Hi, I don’t know whether this is really a question but I just wanted to share. All my life I have been the best student, everyone saw me as someone who was going somewhere and would do great things, more importantly I saw myself as that. I felt I had a purpose. Later on, I wasn’t able to go to the uni I wanted and ever since then my life has been on a downward spiral. From the outside, I like normal but I am suffering from a deep depression. I have considered suicide many times, I feel no enthusiasm for anything in life, I have gained so much weight, I have stopped working out I have just given up on life. I have tried in the past to change my life but it feels like nothing changes. Frankly I just want to give up, I feel like a leaf floating in the wind. Its my birthday today and ironically, I have no joy. I just read your piece on the debonair disciple and I could feel his fire, passion and enthusiasm. I am not asking to have a perfect life, I just want to know how to life my imperfect life with fire and passion and enthusiasm?
Well, first off, Happy Birthday love! Many many blessings for you this year and all the years to come!
Now to your question: How do you find fire and passion in the midst of what seems to be an imperfect life?
Well, I think you kind of have the idea – or at least the beginning of it. You are right that what you need isn’t a life change, but rather to be able to find joy and passion and fire in the midst of the one you already have.
What you need is a perspective change.
I see this narrative all the time – in myself and in the people I do life with and in the people all around me: when we do not end up where we thought we would be, doing what we had set our minds out to do, or being he person we thought we’d be, or with the person we thought we’d end up with, then suddenly, our world collapses. Suddenly, we decide we have failed. We have not lived up to the greatness or the standards that were set out for us by our teachers or our parents or our achievements or our very selves. The real problem is not our inability to achieve those goals. The real problem is that we have planned the paths of our lives based on the world’s formulas and blueprints for success. And so we crash and burn spiritually, emotionally, and often physically, when we have put in all the right ingredients and our lives don’t turn out how we thought they would.
The world tells you success looks like this: Be a good student. Go to a top university. Graduate with honors. Find a job that takes you around the world and seats you with powerful people. Earn six figures. Get married. Have 3 kids. Buy a house in the suburbs, and a vacation home in Tahiti. Send your kids to the best schools and give them everything you never had. Change the world through some amazing invention or policy. Retire young and start your own business.
Basically, the world teaches us to do one thing: build an empire.
And that is great. That is what success looks like for a lot of people. There is nothing wrong with that. But as Christians, our narrative could not be more different, and so our perspectives must be too.
We are not building our empire’s, we’re building Christ’s. And how Jesus constructs his empire is very different. He does not place value on the things the world does – on accolades and degrees, and wealth and prestige. In fact, the Bible says that God uses the very things we humans despise and deem unworthy to do His work. He uses the lowly to confound the proud. He uses the people and places we think are useless to do the greatest work in and through us, and to prepare us for greater.
And so I have found that in those moments when I felt like my life plans had completely been derailed, and I had no idea where I was going or why, and I was depressed and despondent, I was in the perfect position to be used by God.
This is a season of growth for you, as it has been for me in the past and continues to be over and over again. It is a season for you to learn to be content, and to learn to value things as God values them. And it will be hard because the world around you tends to shout and let you know they don’t think much of you or your life. But when God sees you, He thinks the world of you. In you He sees His power and purpose, He sees the plan He has for you – the greatness He set out for you before the foundations of the earth. But until you begin to see your life from God’s perspective, you will never be satisfied. You will never find fire or passion.
One of my favorite movies (that my niece has made me watch over and over again) is the Prince of Egypt. There’s a part when Moses is in Jethro’s camp where Jethro begins to sing to him about looking at his life through Heaven’s eyes. All things being considered, Moses was a fraud of a prince, a murderer, and only good for counting sheep. And yet it was those very skills he learnt posing as a prince in the palace and herding sheep that made him the perfect candidate for leading the people of Israel to the promised land. What Moses saw as failure, God saw as preparation for purpose.
Instead of looking at all the things you missed out on and placing your value in accolades and pieces of paper, look at where you are now. Look at what you have around you – look at it through God’s eyes. Begin to question: what prayers did you pray that were answered that you have overlooked because they didn’t come in the package you asked for? What skills are you developing? What is God using this season to teach you? See the value in where you are instead of longing for where you are not.
The other thing I’ll say is to ask God for your purpose. Don’t focus on what you wanted to do and couldn’t – start asking God, ‘where do you want me to be? Where are we headed?’ and pay attention. Where God is taking you might be exactly where you wanted to be – He might just be taking you a different route so you don’t get to thinking that it was your degree that got you there, or He can develop something in you along the way. Maybe He is taking you somewhere else altogether – but wherever it is, I can assure you that the victory you will have and achieve there will be greater than any other victory you could ever achieve anywhere.
Most of all (and Jake would probably tell you this as well), you have to understand that you are already victorious because Jesus is your reward. The Kingdom he is building is not of this world. It doesn’t function the way the world does. It tells you to go low so you can be taken high. It tells you to serve when everyone else is looking to BE served. It tells you to be content when the world keeps enticing you to want more. And the only way to be content in Christ, is to focus on him and to practice thankfulness. Once you get yourself drowned in his Word and in His promises, and in who He is, what the world thinks of you, and even what you have thought about yourself won’t matter. You will only see what He sees.
And what He sees is glorious.
ALSO, if you’d like to speak to Jake directly, He would love to speak to you! If you send me your email, I can connect you!