In December, I began considering the question – what is the good life, really? I wanted to know what would happen if I made a series of changes that I thought would lead me to the Good Life. You can check that out here.
Along the way, I made some changes that better positioned me to live the good life. My pastor at church, my readings, and God guided me to some new answers and reminded me of some answers that had changed my life before.
I had the realization that living the Good Life is about thriving. You can read that post here. Then my pastor spoke to me in a way that reminded me of how I got to where I am now. He stated that the two main questions we have are 1) who am I? And 2) what am I to do? I agreed with him, that my life didn’t change until I had both these answers for myself. You can read my post on discovering Identity here. I followed that with a two-part post about finding your purpose in life. You can read those here and here.
During January, I invited you to journal with me about the following:
- Make a vision of what you’d like your life to be so that you can point yourself in that direction.
- Choose a word and direct your intention to that word this year.
- What are ten things in your life that if different, would make it the good life?
- In 2021, what do you want less of and what do you want more of?
- In 2021, who do you want to be? Picture the best version of yourself? Describe her.
- What is your identity? Who does God say you are?
- Who are you right now? What do you like and not like? What are your hobbies?
- What do you need to do to get from who you are right now, to who you want to be?
- What are your spiritual gifts? How can you use them?
- What are all the things you love to do?
- What are you here for? What’s your purpose as a result of what you’ve learned?
If you didn’t follow along before or didn’t want to read all those prior things, you can start anytime, right where you’re at.
What’s the last piece? The last piece of this investigation is this – we will reach self-actualization and begin to thrive (living the good live) when we are living into the purpose that fits who God has created us to be. I realize that this might not make sense in the beginning. Maybe you’re thinking it won’t work for you. Maybe you don’t believe in God for whatever reason.
I accept all those things are possible for you. Still, it is my position that if you do what you love, know who you truly are, know your intrinsic worth, and live for something higher than yourself, you will thrive. I hold this as truth because I am living that life. Yes, I have been examining the Good Life this January and I will continue to make adjustments through this year. I will possibly have to make adjustments for the rest of my life.
Still, I am coming to believe that self-actualization is not a point of arrival but a point of becoming. Remember the first triangle, Maslow’s hierarchy? Check it out here. While I was reviewing my transition through the stages, finding my security, finding my identity, and then finding my purpose, I realized that we have a second triangle.
The second triangle. The second triangle is the trinity. If we pay attention, we find all our needs are met by God. We find in the Bible that Jesus depended on God for all his needs as well. In doing so, he reached self-actualization. In his ministry, he did what he came to do – teach and point humanity to God. We are to be the same way. My realization is this: in order to live the good life and to thrive we need to have a life that is based on the biblical principles.
Here’s an example: When I was in chaos, in my domestic violence relationship, living for myself, I was insecure and needy. When I was in abuse, I was terrified and could never reach a sense of security or belonging. Only after I left could things be different. I could provide for myself. I could begin to feel secure and safe at home. I could then progress through Maslow’s remaining stages. Yet, I still could not live life fully, the good life was still out of reach.
It wasn’t until I began to live with God and live in-line with his plan for me that I actually did begin to make real progress. Before, I was always chasing the world and the things in it to try to feel loved, to feel like I belonged, to feel less afraid, to feel less anxiety, to feel like I had enough. The list of things that I tried and which failed is huge.
When I decided to follow God’s path is when I began to overcome obstacles. I relied on God for everything – food, shelter, money, and clothes. When I began to look to him for friendship and help, that’s when I heard him tell me who I am. In relationship with God, I found a sense of belonging. I found a community in the church and I found that I was worthy because I was created by God and I was good.
Once I fully believed who I am, then he gave me my purpose. I could move forward to achieving something bigger than myself. I could direct my efforts in a way that mattered. The thing that mattered the most about it was this: my changes were permanent, they would not fade away. I don’t know how a person would do that with anything other than God as the foundation of their life.
Christianity talks a lot about the Kingdom of God and compares it to the world. The Kingdom is God and the Bible. The world is all the other things that are not the Kingdom. If God is not the outer triangle, then we will fail to be fully actualized and fulfilled. If we don’t have an outer triangle, a partnership with God, purpose from God, biblically principled living, as the basis of our striving then we cannot achieve the good life and thriving.
Here’s what I mean. We can try to use money to fill all the levels on the triangle. It will never be enough and we may lose it all and have to start over. Level one – money will supply my physical needs. Level two – I need more to feel safe and secure, a lot more. Level three and four – I can find relationships and friends ships and groups – do they like me because of my money? Can I only gain admission because of my money? These are the worries of people who have a lot of money. Level five – the final step how much money does it take to be actualized? Millions? Billions? Do you have to be the richest person to be actualized? I don’t know how to measure that.
That’s just one example. The same can be said in relation to anything or person or living creature in this world. Put any number of things or people as the basis and there will always be something that falls apart. That’s because this world will fade away and all things in it will fade. The only thing that remains the same is God.
This is why we must have a strong foundation in God if we want more. Living the good life and thriving has a foundation in the Kingdom. It will never fade away, it goes beyond this life, into the next. We receive all we need from God, we never have to start over. Forgiveness and freedom and the relationship is for eternity. We progress through every level to self-actualization and never have to start over.
What if I’m wrong? I suppose there’s a chance that I’m wrong. I’ve never seen God, I’ve never been to heaven. I wasn’t there when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Yet, it’s better to believe than not believe because if I weigh an eternity of good against an eternity of nothing or eternity of bad – the good will always weigh more. This is Pasacal’s Wager. It’s a simple argument, that is just sensible.
If I’m wrong, I don’t lose anything I want to keep in this life by living and believing as a Christian. I lose my pride, my selfishness, my anger, my hard heart, and much more. I gain love, compassion, kindness, peace, and much more by living the way my God said to live. If I’m not living in the world I’m losing hangovers, STDs, heartbreaks, and many other things that I don’t count as a loss. If I’m living in the Kingdom, I’m gaining a permanent identity, a permanent love, a permanent purpose, and much more.
I don’t think I’m wrong. I’ve felt the effects of God in my life. I’ve felt the effects of the Holy Spirit in my life. I see the changes living by the word brings to me. I haven’t lost anything that I want and I’ve gained the things that matter more than anything in this world.
What do you think? Have you walked through the journal prompts with me? Have you prayed and asked to find your purpose? What things are changing in your life? Anything? Please comment and share below, I’d love to hear from you.