Living in a modern, first-world country there are a lot of sustenance items we just don’t have to worry about. Most of the time being invaded by Mongols, or keeping locust from devouring our crops aren’t even in the back of our minds. We have ice cream in the mini-fridge and coffee within reach. And because our needs are basically taken care of we have the luxury of choosing how to spend our lives.
And I think it was in middle school that I stumbled upon a paradigm shift; I adopted a new belief in regards to this freedom and it has changed my whole life, even into my mid thirties. I think because of it I don’t fear getting old or dying. I can let go of all hate and anger. I am content being single. And every day turned from a struggle to find happiness, to an opportunity to find meaning.
I don’t want to assume that people’s way of life isn’t working for them but just in case they’re looking for more, this is what has worked for me. I think the belief that has changed everything boils down to this one idea:
We are here not for what we can GET from the world, but what we can GIVE to it.
This changes how we interact with everybody. We seek less for what we can get from them, but what we can give to them. But in the giving away, I found that friendship surrounded me.
I assume many of you are creatives (or aspiring), like me. And this belief especially speaks to our situation. What the hard work of our parents and grandparents affords us is the luxury to make with our lives what the world needs. To make our lives our creative masterpiece.
So, after doing this for over two decades, I’ll try to save you some trouble by telling some of the feet-to-the-ground, tactical stuff that I’ve found has helped me out along the way.
Allow yourself to be you
If you need help finding what you were meant to give to the world, first allow yourself to be you. Remember that God made you uniquely you, and if you only let culture and family dictate who they want you to be, the world may not be receiving the full you that it was meant to. The world is less without the deepest you. You should lend an ear to those who are important to you, but I think even possessive mothers are glad to see their child do something they wouldn’t have, if it really makes the child flourish. And if they aren’t, you probably shouldn’t encourage their selfishness.
Find your passion
Once you give yourself the freedom to be you, the things you were built to do tend to come to the surface. Put up your radar and start listening to the world’s need. Start listening to what you love doing. Notice what really inspires you. And then start doing it. Instead of playing video games. Instead of watching TV. Start making what you were made to make. Doing what your passions and strengths have built you to do.
Look for your strengths
Try and do all those things you feel drawn to do, and then listen keenly to yourself and your community. What comes out easily? What seems to be received really well. Pour yourself into those things for maximum effect. But sometimes a passion will bubble up that you’re not particularly talented at, and at that point you can decide what you want to do with it. Illustration has come easily to me but writing has been a struggle. I have had to work ten times as hard at writing to still not be as good as I am at illustrating. But I love writing and it is the best medium I know to communicate these messages I have for the world. So in my case, I’ve tried to foster both, and even tried working them together.
Combine your strengths
Let’s say you have a lot of experience in software coding, but you love making movies. See if you can combine those two to make movies be interactive or something. By combining your strengths, and not being afraid to bridge genres, you may come up with something unique the world has not seen and it is something specifically you were made to do. I illustrate the books I write and it’s been a lot of fun to try combinations of those that reach the world in new ways.
Focus your “Who to help”
Who are the people you want to help? I think most of the time we feel drawn to help people who have struggled with what we have struggled with. I struggle a lot with my faith. And I’ve found my passion is to help people who struggle with their faith by giving them what has helped me. And when the details of my passions and skills get confusing, thinking about the Who I’m trying to help seems to focus my direction, and my priorities again.
All this to say, we have been given such a beautiful canvas to work with. The American dream can lead to bloated mansions and blood-thirsty businesses, but that is a choice. We have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of generations that slaved over obtaining the bare essentials so now we can have this choice.
I’d encourage you to really look at this as a gift, and a responsibility to nurture. Then try to listen to the real you calling out from inside you, the you that God has made you to be. And let that little voice guide your life toward something the world has never seen before. Something you uniquely have the skills and passions and struggles to provide. Make your life beautiful and give it to the world as your reasonable service to God.
Make your life your masterpiece, humbly offered to Him.
Raw Spoon, 3-15-16