I saw the movie “The Women” recently, and something from the movie has made a lasting impression on me. In the middle of the movie, Meg Ryan’s character is having an identity crisis — everything in her life had fallen apart, so she goes on a mountain retreat. While at the retreat, she’s trying to figure her life out, and someone asks her, “What do you want?”
It’s a simple question, that one would think would be easy to answer. But for Meg’s character it wasn’t. Just like it isn’t for me. It’s that million dollar question along with “what would you do if time and money were no object?” Well, other than say travel around the world and drink coffee, I don’t have a good answer for it.
But in the movie, Meg lets this question inspire her. She put the question at the top of a large bulletin board, and every time something inspires her, she puts it on the board. Pictures, phrases, images — anything that encapsulates inspiration, encouragement and focus she puts on the board. It helps her funnel down the essence of her dream. And in the process, she discovers Who She Is.
I need a board.
There are a million and one little things I love — random little things, moments, phrases, fonts, elements that inspire me or make me happy. But to sit and write it all down or verbally describe My Dream, My Passions, My Goals — that only leads to frustration and complacency. It doesn’t fit any set mold, position or plan. After all, I was created by the most creative Creator in the universe — of course I’m one in a million.
But I want to discover all that I am. I want to know myself — what truly motivates me, excites me, makes me feel satisfied, fulfilled and assured. I’m not talking about just finding my identity in Christ — I have that, I’m complete and confident in that. But God designed us unique, individual beings with very specific passions, desires, giftings and abilities — those are the things I need to still discover. I know the answer to the question “who is Monica?” But I don’t know the answer to “what do I want?” So, I need a board.
I need the board because I’m a visual person. When I see things laid out before me in a visually stimulating way, it helps the reality become clear — I can focus, I can see, and suddenly I’m wondering why I never saw it before. More importantly, it will help keep me on track and focused when something comes along that tries to derail me.
It will help keep me centered.
I left a career that I sort of enjoyed, was pretty good at, but not passionate about. I left that career because I knew God was calling me into something new. I had no idea what that looked like. (Honestly, I still don’t…but that’s another entry.) I was confident and sure of that decision, and almost 7 years later, I’ve never questioned it.
There are times when a friend of mine “from the old neighborhood” will tell me about goings on at the old job…or will get promoted to a bigger position, or bigger agency. While I have no desire to be there or have that, there is that little, tiny, small part of me that’s jealous of them, and the little, tiny, small voices tell me that I haven’t done anything, my career is going nowhere, and don’t I really want the glamour, glitzy, high-paying life of those people? The real, gut-level answer is no — for so many reasons. It’s not my passion, it’s not my gifting, it’s not worth the hours, stress, marriage-to-the-job that it requires. I know that in my head, but my ego has a hard time catching up to logic.
But now, if I had the board…then, well, when those moments come, I could simply look up from my computer, see my board of What I Want, and realize instantly that my dreams, goals and vision have shifted. Those voices would be squelched immediately. To see and meditate on that board daily would help me take captive every thought and make it submissive to the dreams, goals and vision that has been given to me by the Maker of All. Of course that is more important, life-affirming and satisfying than the fleeting aspiration to have someone else’s life. But I need the visual reminder that God’s plan for me is going to be completely unique to me. He simply has something else up his sleeve. And while the promotions, power, money and status are perfect and in his plan for those other people — his plan for me is just different.
I’m finally okay with asking the question “What Do I Want?” I used to say that the only answer to that was “whatever God wants.” But I really believe now that’s a cop-out and lame answer. Why? Partly because of Genesis 2. God places Adam in charge over all the earth, and tells him to name the animals. God freely let Adam name them whatever he wanted. It was totally up to him. Adam came up with platypus, armadillo and ostrich. Adam’s response wasn’t “well, God, it’s whatever YOU want their names to be, after all, you created them.” No, God freely let Adam want. Adam wanted food? Eat whatever you want (mind the boundaries, though.) Oh, what’s that Adam, you’re lonely? How’s about this lovely lady? Adam wanted and God provided.
“Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.” (Mt 20:32)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt 7:7)
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Mt 7:11)
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
Why are we so paralyzed to just say what it is we want? We need to choose! Walking with God is life-and freedom-giving. Not mindless, robotic movements with no true passion or desire.
I am finally believing and accepting that it is okay for me to want. That most of those wants were put there by him in the first place, and isn’t it about time that I wanted the same things?
So I need a board. Actually, I think God wants me to have a board. Because if I can start to name what it is I want, it will become real to me. And if it becomes real to me, I will start saying “yes” to the things that will get me closer, and it will be easier to say “no” to the things that don’t align with it. And I think most of all God wants me to be able to clearly articulate it for my own good, so I can walk in assuredness knowing who I am, and who I was made to be.
I’m working on my board, and I have a wonderful sense of anticipation for what God will reveal in the process.
What will your board look like?