By Todd Craig, LCSW
Sometimes we need a wake-up call, something to shake us from being lulled into the dull existence of an unintentionally lived life. Something that awakens us to snap out of the mindset that life is something that happens to us rather than a gift we get to live. One of my wake-up moments came from a friend who had just finished two challenging years serving as a missionary in a hostile country. Matt knew I was walking through a frustrating season, so he looked me in the eye, held up one finger and said, “The biggest lesson I have learned over the past two years is, ‘You are only given one life.’”
When I heard that statement, things deep down in my soul wanted to spring to life. There were things I needed to do, decisions I needed to make, and growth that needed to take place. What about you? What stirs within you when you hear, “You are only given one life?” Are there truths and desires that begin to awaken?
“You are only given one life” is a powerfully simple statement packed with four truths to consider.
The life you were given is your life to live.
It is so easy to conform our lives to what we perceive to be the expectations of others. Often, we do this without even thinking about it. We are surrounded by cultural scripts (buy the bigger house, take the higher paying job, get married and have kids, stay single and free, retire early if you can, you are too old, you are too young, etc.). Maybe it is time to stop worrying about what other people think and live the life you were meant to live. Sometimes it is good to get wise counsel from those you trust but pay close attention to who you are listening to and remember, this is your life.
You weren’t given someone else’s life.
If we are only given one life, that means we weren’t given the lives around us. As the father of three boys, I find myself often saying, “Stop policing your brothers and get your stuff done.” The truth is this temptation to tell other people how to live their lives is as much a distraction for adults as it is for kids. Maybe it is time to stop worrying about what other people do so you can take responsibility for your own life. Additionally, if we weren’t given someone else’s life, maybe it is time to free ourselves from the comparison trap. Paying too much attention to what others have with jealousy will lead to resentment. Comparison and resentment trap us in a sense of helplessness that can prevent us from living our one life with intention.
Who do you want to be? What do you want…really?
You are given one life. It wasn’t given to anyone else. So, what are you going to do with it? Who do you want to be? And, what do you want….really? If you block out the voices around you, free yourself from the shackles of comparison, and work towards answering these questions for yourself with courage and vulnerable honesty, you will begin to awaken a vision and passion for life that may have been buried for years.
What is the next step you need to take?
We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Impatience can kill a vision. Clarifying who you want to be and what you want is one step on a life-long journey. You do not have to have every step toward your vision clarified, just the next one. A life well lived is lived one day at a time with courageous intentionality. Your next step might be to work towards clarity on what you want and who you want to be. It might be to share that vision with someone else. It may be time to try something new or to quit something. Whatever your next step, may you be challenged and encouraged to take it remembering, “You are only given one life.”
Connect with us at journeybravely.com for coaching support as you pursue living your one life with intentionality.
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