Are You Missing Your Life?
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2009 7 Aug
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Charlene Ann Baumbich's book, Don’t Miss Your Life! An Uncommon Guide to Living with Freedom, Laugher, and Grace, (Howard Books, 2009).
Are you missing your own life? If you’re too busy to savor the moments that can become memories to treasure, you’re missing out on the life God wants you to enjoy.
But if you capture the moments of your life, you can use the memories of them as springboards to living to the fullest. Recognizing God at work in your life will give you the freedom you need to enjoy new experiences that will create even more cherished memories.
Here’s how you can mine your memories to find valuable freedom:
Ask God to illuminate your memories. Reflect on the memories that stand out in your mind from your life so far – from happy childhood experiences to traumatic events. Pray about them, asking God to help you learn what He would like to teach you through them.
Wake up. Don’t let the busy pace of your life cause you to zone out so you can’t fully absorb your experiences. Whenever something serious happens to you (such as losing your job or having a loved one pass away), don’t just carry on with your life as usual; stop to deal with it emotionally. Do the same whenever something particularly exciting happens to you (such as having a baby or getting a promotion). Whether you need to cry and scream or give thanks and celebrate, take time to do so. Wake up to the value of each moment you’re living, since it will never come again.
Listen to your friends. Recall the times you’ve spent with close friends and reflect on what they’ve revealed to you about who you are as a person. What qualities have they most admired and enjoyed about you? What ways have they challenged you to grow? How have they encouraged you to serve God and other people, to use your gifts and talents to help make the world a better place? What can you and your current friends do together to help each other fulfill God’s purposes for your lives?
Find the humor. Be willing to laugh at yourself when you remember your mistakes and failures from the past. Aim to create new memories of times when you enjoy laughing with others. Don’t overbook your schedule; plan time to take regular breaks from your responsibilities to have fun. Give yourself permission to play. Get enough sleep each night. Avoid negative people as much as possible and surround yourself with positive people. Set boundaries with people so they don’t deplete your time and energy. Even if your family doesn’t usually laugh much, learn how to enjoy humor yourself. Limit the amount of bad news you take in from the media each day. Let go of bitterness that prevents you from enjoying life by following God’s command to forgive people who have hurt or offended you; trust Him to help you through the process.
Question your assumptions. Since mistaken assumptions based on inaccurate facts create fear in your life, always question your assumptions when you’re reflecting on your memories. Think and pray before reaching conclusions.
Get over it. If you’re reliving certain negative experiences from your past that have long been over because you’re getting attention for doing so, make up your mind to move on with your life. Stop complaining and lean into the goodness that’s a part of your life right now.
Take a break. You can’t learn from your memories if you’re too burned out to reflect on them coherently. So let other people who care about you help you take a time-out from some of your responsibilities to refresh your mind. Get some childcare, delegate house hold chores and errands, and do whatever else you need to do to take a break.
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Stop negative thinking that keeps you stuck focused on your shortcomings when you reflect on your life. Instead, ask God to help you turn each negative thought about yourself into a positive thought that emphasizes your opportunities to grow as a person. Rather than wasting your energy lamenting your past, trust God and cooperate with Him as He transforms you so you can look forward to a better future.
Ask hard questions. When reflecting on your troubling and challenging memories, don’t hesitate to ask God hard questions that will help you deal with the issues involved. God can handle whatever you need to ask Him about – from doubt to anger. Trust God to reach out to you with grace and mercy as you approach Him with hard questions.
Awaken your senses. Notice what’s around you through your senses (looking, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling) and find some touchstones to your past – items that can serve as tangible reminders of memories you treasure. Then say a prayer of thanks for each memory represented by those touchstones.
Take a leap of faith. Don’t let your memories of past failures stop you from taking more risks in your life from now on. Learn from your failures and keep moving forward toward achieving your goals. When you encounter new opportunities (a possible business venture, a way to meet a potential mate, a vacation that offers adventure, etc.), pray for the faith you need to overcome your fear and follow your dreams.
Imagine new possibilities. As you pray about your memories, invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you through your imagination about how they can spur you on to explore new possibilities in your life. Approach changing circumstances with curiosity and faith, looking forward to what God will teach you as you go through them. Imagine yourself fulfilling God’s purposes for your life in exciting ways.
Expect the unexpected. Don’t despair when you recall situations that haven’t gone as you expected. Roll with the punches in life and seek to learn all you can from unexpected circumstances.
Fight for what’s worth fighting for and let the rest go. When your memories reveal parts of your life that you wish you could change, pray for the ability to discern what you can do something about and what is out of your control. Stop wasting time and energy fighting against what you can’t change. Turn those situations over to God and trust Him to do what’s best. Let your gratitude for how God has forgiven you motivate you to forgive others who have hurt or offended you rather than trying to fight them.
Be still. Whether you’re grieving or celebrating a particular memory, be still and know that God is in ultimate control of your life. Let that knowledge comfort you.
Become like a reed. Let your memories of God’s faithfulness to you inspire you to become like a reed – available to God completely, inviting Him to blow through you with His breath of life to empower you to serve Him and help make the world a better place.
August 11, 2009
Adapted from Don’t Miss Your Life! An Uncommon Guide to Living with Freedom, Laugher, and Grace, copyright 2009 by Charlene Ann Baumbich. Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, West Monroe, La., http://www.christian.simonandschuster.com/.
Charlene Ann Baumbich is an award-winning journalist who speaks and writes about the layers of life as she sees them, which is often slightly off center, mostly dead-on, and always through lenses of grace. Her highly successful Dearest Dorothy series of novels celebrate octogenarian spitfire Dorothy Jean Wetstra and the residents of small-town Bartonville. Her nonfiction titles range from Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This to Don't Miss Your Kids!. Charlene speaks to the heart, the funny bone, and a broad age span. For more than a decade, Charlene has presented her most requested talk – “Don't Miss Your Life!” – to audiences across the United States and in Canada.