My husband recently asked me, “What do you want out of life?” Without much thought I spouted back “a good relationship with God, a healthy family, and a sense of accomplishment”. As time progressed, I started thinking about my answer. What did I mean by that, and, did I really mean it? Why did I so quickly respond with those three?
Lately my relationship with God has come under close scrutiny. At the mid-point of my life, I find myself reexamining my beliefs. I am looking at the traditions I grew up in, my experiences in my early adulthood and the family I now have the responsibility of raising. What constitutes a “good relationship with God”? Not so long ago I would have evaluated that by my involvement in church activities and how I “feel” during “worship”. Growing up as a preacher’s kid there was never a question of involvement – if Dad was there, so was I. That carried over into adulthood as a matter of habit, I even managed to get myself a job as a church secretary at the church I attended for many years. Raised in a Pentecostal tradition, feelings were and are considered an integral part of one’s Christian experience. Though never as demonstrative as many, I still believed a ‘good’ service to be one where outwardly expressed emotions were evident. But now I find that I have let activities and seeking emotional ‘highs’ distract me. A return to some more traditional approaches (scripture reading, meditation, reading liturgy) has helped bring my relationship back into focus.
As to a healthy family, I can say that many positive steps have been made in the last few years. More fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less red meat are a few. A membership to the YMCA (twice), Scout campouts, and a general awareness of activity have improved. But yet I still continue to provide things for them that are not conducive to healthiness. Tending to buy candy when I shop, allowing too much TV and video games on the weekend, dessert on weeknights, and not being a consistent example of discipline. Yet we are rarely sick, check ups come out well, and overall I believe we are on the right track.
What gives me a sense of accomplishment? This one is harder. As a modern woman I feel a sense of pressure to list some sort of career achievement – yet that’s not my first thought. Being married 20 years in a society where that is no longer a “given” is an accomplishment to me. Raising three children who are engaged in their respective communities – school, scouts, church – that’s an accomplishment. Facing my fears of rejection and becoming a leader in PTA, which in turn helped push me into my community – that’s a HUGE accomplishment. These are all things that give me a sense of accomplishment, but mostly I think that when I am living life fully and doing things to the best of my ability, that gives me my most satisfying sense of accomplishment.
So in reflection, I’ll stick with my original answer. I am already getting what I want out of life. While each of those things have room to grow and improve – it’s comforting to know that unlike the song by BONO and U2 – I have found what I’m looking for.