I remember the day I met Rolland Baker, a fourth generation missionary serving in Mozambique.
For 20 years Rolland and his wife Heidi have been serving in harsh conditions in Africa. Yet, Rolland shares his story barely able to stop chuckling between sentences. Then, he ask a simple question,
“What’s the point without joy?”
Some people might answer, “Well, it’s just not that simple…” or maybe, “One day brother…” But what if one day never comes? Moreover, why can’t one day be today? Should we just rollover and take what life gives us?
I don’t think so. And neither should you.
In my personal experience, the best way to start is to ask honest questions, give honest answers, and take action. Each of us is different, I believe these five questions below are a solid start.
Question 1: What’s creating unhealthy comparison in my life?
One of the best decisions I made this year was to end my time on Instagram. Some of my friends have tried to convince me to come back for genuinely okay reasons; however, I remember each time I finished my time on Instagram, I actually felt worse. Eventually, I asked, “What’s going on here?!”
Examining the photos of these people I admire was actually sparking this thought,
“I should be further along by now…”
To be frank, that was simply not true and it was also very unhelpful. I decided to end the comparison and when I did, I stopped focusing on what others are doing and started deciding what I should be doing.
Question 2: How am I asking myself questions?
Tony Robbins in his series Personal Power points out that most people have a presupposition or slant. To give a personal example, returning home after spending two months in Africa, I kept asking myself, “Why do I feel so lonely?” and “Why am I still dealing with this issue?”
These questions, although honest, did not help me find an answer. Furthermore, they gave an unhealthy amount of power to my emotions.
Through Tony, and other authors, I’ve learned to reframe many of my questions. Like, “How can I do this better in the future?” or my personal favorite, “How is God well-pleased with me today?”
Question 3: Do I really need X to do Y?
I wish I could make a list of all the pointless items, books, music, and other things I’ve invested in. Although I’ll never get that money back, my recent investment into Calm (a soothing meditation app), gave me this gem of a quote:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
On the mission field I really began to enjoy writing. I also found people appreciated what I was sharing, so I decided I want to continue after my return home. The first thing I did was look up writing programs, books, etc. Although the books were helpful, using what the pros use doesn’t make you a pro.
What truly pushed me to write was two things: reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Teddy Roosevelt’s quotation. Through Steve and Teddy I realized I had everything I needed to start writing, I just had to do it.
Question 4: Do I like who I’m becoming?
One of my hardest days was the day I looked in the mirror and realized I didn’t like the man looking back. It was a moment of total honesty that drove me to take action and make some real changes in my life.
Because I have to live with myself, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I like myself — how I act, talk, interact, and treat others.
This question, more than any other, has helped me ensure I’m taking steps to grow as into more wise, kind, and loving human being. Furthermore, it has led to many other questions about what decision I needed to make and action I need to take to be true to myself.
Last Question: Am I giving myself the time and space to change?
I recently emailed a growing friend of mine, Seth Barnes. I asked Seth, “How do we create liminal space?” Liminal space is the space necessary to allow what’s happening inside you to come to the surface. His response was this, “Take 1 or 2 hours a day and make them sacred.”
Listening to my body and soul has helped me a lot over the years, but I’ve also had to do my part to be a good friend in return. I’ve given myself the space to “tune in”. Jesus says this best in Matthew 6:6:
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
The depth, meaning, understanding, and grace I now bring to many relationships did not come naturally. I first had to cultivate them toward myself. This solitude seemed rather insignificant at first, but I can personally attest that creating “sacred space” to just be with myself has changed my life.
Bottom line: Life should be meaningful, but a lack of joy and love toward ourselves can often rob our peace and a pleasant experience of the relationships and world around us.
The Good News is that we can all make changes. However, we have to have the courage to ask ourselves the tough questions and give honest answers. A good question may take years to answer. A great question won’t need an answer because you’ll know what to do when you ask it.
No matter of where you are on the journey, I hope you take the time to ask yourself these questions and then TAKE ACTION with your answers! Until next time…
Live Boldly My Friends!
Updates will be available most frequently at https://charlespayneblog.com