Meaning-Full

Meaning – “the end, purpose, or significance of something” or “full of significance”
Full – “completely filled” or “maximum” or “abundant”
…at least that’s what Dictionary.com says about these two words.

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Two Fridays ago I spent the afternoon with a group of women reflecting on 2013 and setting a direction for 2014. At the end of our afternoon we each had to land on one word that would guide us in 2014. My word (I cheated) was meaning-full.

What do I mean by meaning-full and what do I hope for in 2014?
What gives my life meaning is different then what gives your life meaning, but what we share is meaning grows out of our values. Naming our values is important, and so is living them. How do we interweave our values into the demands already on our life? In 2014 I want to reflect on what it is that’s filling my days, weeks and months. My life is full, but with what? Can my days be abundant with significance? Can my weeks be maximized towards the areas of life I most value? That’s the quest I’m on this year. I want my life to be full of what’s meaningful to me.

Okay, I got a word. So what?
That’s the challenge. And to start I know this. Habits, daily rituals and patterns form and shape my life. Those habits, like drinking too much Diet Coke, can take me away from my goals or, like attending the 6:00 am cycling class, they can move toward achieving my goals. So I’ve been evaluating my habits. Starting a new semester provides a natural opportunity for adapting habits. But so does the new year. So, I’m limiting my Diet Coke to one a week. (Yes, those that know me recognize that’s a big deal.) But I’m also adding some new habits. As I do life everyday, be it going to cycling class or heading to chapel or leading my group of 6th graders, I’m asking myself, “If, and how, this is creating meaning?” I’m wondering if I’m just going through the motions or if I’m fully present and seeking ways to put my values into play. So far, half way through the month, I’m slowly finding my way. This question has helped me evaluate my habits and maximize the things I’m already doing so I can live more meaning-full.

And what does this have to do with you?
Maybe you have a word too, or maybe you’ve been striving to live more meaningfully, or maybe you are open to being intentional about your habits. Those are all great things, and I hope me sharing helps you in some way. But there is something more fundamental here. Do you believe you can impact your life this year? In big, or small, ways we all have agency and the ability to impact our lives and the world. To do that, however, we need to believe a new future is possible, we need to be reflective and open, and we need to be intentional about the little things and our daily choices.

Tonight this was most evident as my class participated in The Wellness Center ministry. People of all walks of life, with varied life experiences and resources, came together for a meal and community. At the end of the night several people shared about what this community meant to them. All the responses were moving, but two stood out. The two men who had been homeless and welcomed into this community. Accepted as a fellow human, they were valued and cared about. They were not victims; they were human beings. Their stories reminded us social status, economic resources or fashion choices are not what make us human, relationships do. And we all can foster relationships – young and old, rich and poor, and with various religious beliefs. Tonight was meaning-full, and it was filled with hope, openness to change, and concrete ways for living today. Thanks for a teaching me tonight.

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