New Year, New Life Story
- Angela Bisignano, Ph.D. Author
- 2012 1 Jan
The beginning of a new year is a great time to start a brand new chapter in your life story. Why not make 2012 the year to deepen your understanding of the story God is telling through your life? Understanding your life’s turning points is a great place to start. Turning points can shed a significant amount of light on what God has done in our lives, what He is currently doing, and where He could be leading us.
In his book Living the Life You Were Meant to Live, Tom Patterson defines a turning point as a significant time in your life when the direction of your life changes either for the better, or worse. What is particularly important about a turning point is that it is a landmark in your life: Something substantial that changes your whole direction.
Why is this important? Because though you may or may not realize it, your life story needs to be told. The Bible is full of stories of how God has used the life stories of men and women to change the course of history. To identify yours, try asking yourself two simple questions:
- What are the major events of my life (such as marriage, death, leaving home, graduation, career shifts, retirement)?
- What change resulted from the tragedy or gift that I experienced?
In this type of contemplation, I like to think about both life turning points and spiritual turning points. We can then use these landmarks to get a sense of our life story, and in turn, a better sense of our unique calling under God. Let me give you a few examples from my own life.
Life Turning Points:
My major turning point occurred when my father had a serious heart attack, which opened up a host of emotions that I had to deal with. Since my father was not around for a lot of my life, that included a lot of thoughts and emotions going back to my childhood. My father survived that heart attack and for me, this represented a turning point: it was the beginning of a season of healing. I started working with a counselor who helped me to process a lot of the feelings I had regarding my parents, their divorce, and my father being gone. You want to pay attention to those events that made an impact.
Another major turning point in my life was the day I met Gerard, the man who would become my husband. I remember walking into the room for a Bible study I had never been to before, and we were a little late. I quickly looked around the room for a place to sit (and probably a man to marry), and spotted Gerard right away. When the study was over, I made it a point to go and meet him. I didn’t wait for him to come on over and introduce himself: Sometimes, women just have to be bold! I am glad I walked on over, because in that moment, the course of my entire life changed. This encounter led to our courtship and eventual marriage, and later on, the birth of my sons Jonathan and David – also significant turning points in my life.
Spiritual Turning Points:
A spiritual turning point is something that occurs that changes or influences your relationship with God. One day, a friend of mine asked if I was ready to meet Him. I was, so I made a "date" to meet God. I mean, I actually made an appointment. I believe it was at two o’clock in the afternoon, and I remember walking into the home of some friends who just had a new baby. I was so in awe of God’s love when I walked into their home, that I did all I could to not burst into tears. My friends led me in a prayer and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Later that night, I had gone to take a shower. When I was done, I laid down in my room, contemplating the day’s events. I had been resting for about ten minutes when I heard a loud crashing sound. Instantly, I got up to see what all the commotion was about: the ceiling in the shower, where I had only minutes before been, had completely fallen down. I couldn’t believe it! What would have happened to me had I been in there? I couldn’t say for sure, but what I did know is that earlier in the day I had been brought into God’s heavenly plan, and that marked a significant spiritual turning point for my life.
As we look at life and spiritual turning points we need to consider them as they relate to different areas of our life: personal, family, vocational, and community. Not every turning point will impact every area of life, but they will generally influence one or two areas. God has allowed the circumstances in your life to take place, and you may not have had control over what has happened to you. But you do have the choice about what you will make of your life and future. The power of your story is immeasurable, as well as irreplaceable.
Now that you've had some time to think about your life, those momentous occasions are probably beginning to become clear. But to really flesh them out, it may be helpful to dedicate a period of time at home or away where you can devote yourself to this process. Here's a step-by-step way to do it.
Step One: My Life Turning Points
Begin to write down what you think are the significant turning points in your life. Don't worry – you'll have time to edit the list, and people will vary in how many turning points they've experienced. It may be helpful to know that it is not uncommon for someone who is in their 20s and 30s to have between five and ten; someone in their 40s to have between ten and fifteen; someone in their 60s to have between twenty and twenty-five. You may have more or less. Provide a brief name for each turning point, as well as an approximate date or period of time for each.
Step Two: My Spiritual Turning Points
Now you are going to do the same thing, except this time you will write down the significant spiritual turning points in your life. Conversion is generally the most significant point in the life of a believer. As you consider them, you may wish to attach a quote or Scripture that will help you to deepen the meaning of this time period. It's OK to simply have one or two.
Step Three: Prayer
As you go through this process, pray that God would reveal to you any areas of your life that would be considered turning points:
God, I will continue to praise you all the days of my life. Even when I don’t understand all of your ways I choose to put my trust in you. I pray that you will take my life and use it. I pray that you would bring to remembrance any significant turning points in my life. Give me the courage and insight to look at my life in such a way that it can be used for your glory. Use my life for your purposes, to accomplish your will here on earth. I pray you will speak to my heart about any themes that are important for me in understanding where you are leading me. Open my eyes that I may see my life in such a way that I can encourage and help other people that I may come in contact with.
Step Four: Putting it All Together
Turning points are like a roadmap. They can tell you where you have been, shed light on how you arrived at where you are today, and help shape your future direction. Understanding our turning points can help us understand the story that God wants to tell through our lives. I encourage you to be bold and courageous with the life that God has given to you. Someone is in need of hearing your story. Will you tell them?
Angela Bisignano, Ph.D., is the author of Beautifully Gifted: Equipping Today's Women for the High Calling of God. Visit her at DrAngelaBisignano.com.