Choosing the Important Things in Your Life

For many people in our shared humanity, there’s a long quest for the meaning of life and the purpose of life. And there are some people who dismiss the notion of a universal meaning in life, reducing meaning to whatever the individual chooses to make meaning out of one’s life. That’s an easy way to punt the ball down the field, so to speak. Sure, with so many people, cultures, and perspectives, there are many approaches to life.

And this question fades in the background when things are going well. And, there are occasions when times are hard, or in moments of transition, when that existential question arises: what’s life all about?

2 recent events prompted me to share my personal reflections. Actually, 3.

Firstly, heard a podcast with someone describing their greatest fear is not reaching their full potential. Secondly, enjoyed a most wonderful 50th birthday party, where they brought together like 50 friends and family members to celebrate life generously and gratefully. Thirdly, just to say why my blogging comes along inconsistently. (in case anyone is curious)

What’s Your Greatest Fear?

It was a sad and haunting thought that someone would fear missing their potential. When I heard that, I reacted with, oh my, that’s not my greatest fear. The thought of whether I was reaching my potential or not, that feels like an impossible question to answer: how could I ever be enough?

To keep my sanity and mental health, I’m learning to stay away from that idea of reaching my potential. See, the thing is, if someone were to spend all my time and energy on one thing, like an Olympic athlete, for instance, sure, a person could become the best they can be at swimming or running or skiing. But if they don’t win a medal, does that mean they didn’t reach their potential? See how answering that question is so elusive? Maybe only if they tried a little harder?

Your mileage may vary. I know there are people who are wired to be goal-oriented, high achiever, ambitious for success & recognition, accomplishing monumental feats, developing their career for corporate success, driving toward financial freedom, whatever whatever. Those are people who get more of those kind of things: titles, awards, more sales, more income, more wealth. The part you don’t see is how hard they have to work at it, how much motivation and drive it takes, discipline, consistency, energy, and sacrificing some other things in life.

But that is so not me. And now into my mid-fifties in age, I’m okay being me, most of the time. It does cause some mild discomfort, though, when I read success stories. While those stories are inspiring to others, they’re honestly irritating to me.

On the one hand, I can and do celebrate the successes of others. But what am I left with, if I have to ask myself, why am I not doing more? Not a good place for me to go.

My passion for new things

A couple years ago, I came to a moment of clarity, that my passions are in 3 areas, summarized by the letters M.S.G. — multiethnic diversity, shame (erasing shame about mental health), and generosity. Yes, I venture forth into underdeveloped things that the world could use. I have not yet figured out how to turn these into paid work so I can put more than sweat equity into them; maybe they’re not for me to monetize. But I do pray for someone who could team up with me to do these things more.

Found a quote from Erwin McManus that helped me:

In fact, one of the things that people ask me all the time is, “If you have a passion for something, why doesn’t God make that happen in your life?” Because sometimes you’re just supposed to admire someone else, celebrate their talent, celebrate their greatness, celebrate their beauty.

That feels right to me. I’m a long-time advocate, through my blogging, for what I’d love to see more of in the world. I’m not the one to make it all happen, as much I wish and dream I could be, but I do what I can with shining a spotlight on things I find important and valuable. That’s taken shape in 3 podcasts and 3 books—

The podcasts: Social Media Church, Erasing Shame, Generous Asians.

The books: Asian American Youth Ministry, Conversations: Asian American Evangelical Theologies in Formation, MultiAsian.Church: A Future for Asian Americans in a Multiethnic World.

As I meander along this journey of life, the adventure continues with ups and downs, twists and turns, surprises and challenges. No, my resume does not look linear. My blog does not have a consistent flow of content. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to help where I can.

So, what’s most important in your life?


[photo credit]

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