In a recent posting on my Facebook page, I asked what topics people would like to discuss if they were able to attend a growth group.
Mary (not her real name) responded that she would choose Life Purpose. She said, “At age 41, no college degree and considering stepping more into the work force, I am struggling with what am “I” wanting, vs what is Gods path for me, having contentment, and am I considering making changes because of worldly expectations, or am I feeling God promting me? ”
These are great questions that most of us grapple with in one form or another. Feeling restless is common at mid-life (sorry, “Mary” but turning forty is mid-life, and a pretty common time for introspection!). Taking time to let your feelings, thoughts, and questions bubble to the surface is a productive and necessary exercise. Let me encourage you to write down what comes up as you work through these spiritual and personal growth questions:
1. Be honest with yourself. Are you restless and bored with aspects of your life? This doesn’t mean you are bad or lacking in contentment. Instead, restlessness can signal you are ready to explore new avenues of stimulation. Heb.12:1 says, “let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us” (Amp.Bible). When you run a race, you move forward, experience new sights and challenges, discover new capabilities. God doesn’t call us to a static place where we shrivel up–we are called to grow, thrive, and press on. It is a normal part of human and spiritual development.
2. Dream, describe, draw what you would like your life to look like in five years. Be specific. Remember God gives us desires, He works in our hearts and longings, and He enables us to do what He calls us to (Phil.2:13).
3. Reflect on your strengths, passions, sense of purpose. How has God designed you and where can you invest what He has given? The three servants in Matt.25:15-18 were told to use their talents–what are yours and how can you make them count for the Lord? Are you limiting them to a pre-conceived box?
4. List your doubts and concerns about the changes you are considering. Are they linked to fears of failure? Concerns you might be neglecting your God-given responsibilities? Concerns about what others will think of you? Cast your cares and concerns on the Lord. Look to Him to show you if your desires are self-centered or if they are part of your growth and development spiritually and personally. He will bring conviction or peace and a sense of excitement and readiness–even when it is scary to think about stepping into something new.
5. Anticipate Obstacles. In my seminar, Find Your Passion and Live It! I talk about both internal and external obstacles that always accompany change–especially change that affects family members and friends. To assume that obstacles are signs indicating you are not in God’s will is not theologically accurate! If this were true, the apostle Paul, and countless other believers, would have given up as soon as things got difficult. Imagine all that would never have happened. Be prepared to face and work through obstacles–but only if you are inwardly convinced this is what the Lord is calling you to.
I hope this was helpful. You can get many more probing questions to ask yourself as well as insights about growth and life transitions in my book, I’m Too Young to be This Old:Surviving and Thriving in the Muddled, Middle Years available at my website, www.poppysmith.com/store
I’ll share some more ways to discern God’s path in my next blog. What have you found helpful in making decisions? Maybe what helps you will help another reader . I’d love to share your insights with them.