Today is a special day for many reasons. It’s my sorority’s National Day of Service today. I’m co-hosting my first women’s small group with lovelies from our new church in our little apartment, Star Wars: Episode VII tickets go on sale tonight (woot! woot!) AND it’s “Evaluate Your Life” Day.
Go, Google it! It’s a real thing and one that I am glad someone decided to set aside a day to encourage us to do.
If you’re new here to A Journaled Life, you may not be aware of how often I do it. The evaluating thing. I am in my head and heart a lot (with some wrong thinking – I’m working on it) and putting it on paper constantly; I journal almost daily. It helps me to see and recognize patterns, inspires dreams and is a safe place for me to reveal my most real self. I wish everyone would see the value of it in their lives…
EVALUATION TOOLS FOR YOU?
Many of the sites promoting this day of evaluation share quotes and book ideas for changing your life or the parts of it you don’t care for. You may find a site that gives you some insights for how best to proceed for you; here’s what I do that may help.
In addition to journaling, I read a lot, take a lot of surveys (StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, magazine surveys – thank you Oprah), seek input and really take in a lot of information that is designed to help me learn more about myself and my beliefs about my life.
In my time with God, I’m reading the Book of Proverbs and learning a lot about how best to live wisely in my day-to-day life. I’m also reading Lies Women Believe, The Purple Book & a study called, A Time for Everything. I’ve also recently participated in a 6-week online Biblical Study about being in a spiritual wilderness. You can read about it here. These types of studies are helpful in evaluating how my life is measuring up to the one I’m called to live as a disciple of Christ.
In my StrengthsFinder results, both in 2012 & again in 2014, Learner was my number one strength. I am always interested in learning about what I can do to improve, grow, develop, be better, be brave…to be me.
I’m currently reading, Cheryl Strayed’s, Wild. I enjoy reading stories about women going in search for more meaning in their lives; for more clarity. For more evaluation of what is they long for, believe they need, better understanding of their brokenness and hurt. Though I wouldn’t do it in her way (Elizabeth Gilbert’s European search for her self in Eat, Pray, Love – which included wine and food and being housed indoors would likely be more my speed), I realize that I am constantly evaluating my life and like all of the women I enjoy reading about, am looking to have that hole in my heart filled. I am evaluating my life.
EVALUATE. EVEN IF IT SEEMS MESSY.
Messy Exhibit A | I quit two jobs last year. Yes, two. In the same calendar year. I’m not bragging…
I’ve not been back to work since December of last year. I’m not opposed to it but God has been walking with me these past 10 months and making my path more and less clear at the same time. And not to sound whiny, but it’s been hard. Being a doer, wanting to do and having God continue to sit me down and have me instead focus on rest and stillness. Let’s just say, my adult temper tantrums during this
time out season were not pretty at times.
Messy Exhibit B | I was divorced in December and had a 6 month dating relationship end this fall.
There is a common denominator in both of those relationships. Me. I am allowing God to show me some real truths about how I allow myself to be deceived about what true love is. Coming to me and from within me. How unresolved my heart is toward matters that happened over a decade ago, some longer ago than that. That I have very broken and hurt thinking in my beliefs about what a godly marriage looks like and me in one.
Can anyone relate to being a mess? At least at times? On some days? Like me?
Faithful. Hopeful. Geared up and ready for the challenge, until I’m not. Until I get distracted. Until I get scared. Until I just don’t want to. I rebel against the Truth and what I believe God may be calling me to do (never anything wrong or dangerous) in favor of what seems appealing or like a shortcut.
And this is where my life gets messy. I take my eyes off of God. I turn my heart away from Him. I basically stop trusting Him or seeing Him in the smallest, most precious things. Then I get stuck and can only see the mess I’ve made and get bogged down in believing He can’t clean it up. That He wouldn’t bother doing so. Not for me.
EVALUATE. SEE THE BEAUTY.
As I pause to evaluate (not over-think, as my son says) my life today, I do breathe a bit easier and smile wider knowing that God is fully leading me and my heart again. And wouldn’t you know it, my life is a lot less messy. My mind is more clear. I believe it’s because I’m choosing to look past my circumstances, relationships and situations at Him. At what He’s doing in spite of me and my choices.
And as a result of His perfect love, I can truly say that my life is beautiful y’all.
Even though I’ve been cheated on.
Even though I’ve been abandoned.
Even though I’ve been abused and assaulted.
Even though I’ve been lied to, lied about, lied on and have lied to others.
Even though I’ve been marginalized.
Even though I’ve been bad mouthed.
Even though I’ve drank too much red wine.
Even though I’ve quit a job without another one lined up.
Even though I’m not surrounded with a ton of friends.
Even though I’ve got some wrong thinking that needs repair.
Even though I’ve been widowed.
Even though I’ve been divorced.
Even though I’ve been dumped.
Even though I don’t yet know what my “purposeful work” will be.
Even though I don’t have a gazillion followers on all of my social media combined.
Even though I’ve been depressed.
Even though I’ve contemplated ending my life.
Even though I’ve sinned. Repeatedly.
Even though I’ve questioned and doubted God.
EVALUATE. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS.
My life is beautiful. It is good. He wakes me, puts breath in my body. Gives me the ability to move. Blesses me with the gift of a place to live, a working vehicle, a fancy coffee maker with yummy beans and a place – many places – in our lovely apartment home to seek Him. To connect with Him. To revel in Him. To wonder with and at Him.
I am learning to embrace the unknown, the lack of certainty about what comes next and the fact that I only need wake up each day to love and be loved. That I can’t “do”anything to earn any value from anyone or anything. It is so freeing. Powerful. Wonderful. Amazing.
All of this from taking a little time to evaluate my life and focus on what I have to be grateful for.
Even in our fallen, broken, divided, hurting, challenged-filled world, I can take a few moments today and evaluate my life and tell you that, I am blessed because He is good. You can too! In honor of the national day of observation, take 15 minutes by yourself and evaluate the life He’s given you. No matter what’s happening, I’ll bet you can find the roses among the thorns.