I've been brought into the world of goal setting and vision casting heavily over the last year. I've loved it at times and resented it at others. What do you want? Who do you want to become? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20, 30 years? What life do you want to create? Most importantly, why?
On the surface it can seem simple. For example, with my job, I want to earn a certain amount of money within three years. It covers the standard of living I desire, allows us to travel, gives us the ability to be generous, etc. Pretty straightforward, right?
If I'm honest, I want to be a consistent provider for our family. I want Lacie to feel secure in all aspects of our marriage. I want my parents and Lacie's parents to be proud of me and trust my leadership. I want to create a legacy and influence others. I want peace to exist in all areas of my life. I want to have confidence that comes from executing on what I set out to do. I want to exude strength and competency. I want people to see Jesus through the ways I sacrifice.
That's a little different than paying the bills and planning a cool trip. There is always a deep emotional need.
I would love to say it's completely virtuous, "I just want to be the best man I can be and live for the sake of others." Our shadow self, dark side, sinful nature (call it whatever you want), has a way of hiding in the crevices of good intention, though.
So how do we know what we are doing is the right thing? How do we know we are doing it for the right reasons?
It's really, really difficult. Plenty of good people fall hard, even in the pursuit of right living.
The only option I see is to commit to a process: pray, discern, seek out mentors and counsel, surround yourself with people who value the same things and push you, look in the mirror (figuratively) every day, ask for feedback, be willing to admit your mistakes, learn from every experience.
So here's what I've learned lately about myself. It's not easy to admit, but I think it can explain why doubt caught the foothold it had in my life.
It wasn't intellectual assent to a higher ground where faith became futile. It was much more complicated and personal, as everything always is. It was a positive aspect of my personality combined with the untimely death of a little (g)od of mine. When my analytical self met an inexplicable circumstance, I started to crumble.
The god of family was dethroned and beheaded. The idol of security was dashed to the ground. The illusion of control in my life was shattered. The world as I understood it shifted slightly out of focus. I could no longer see clearly. I couldn't explain what was happening. I couldn't fix what was broken...
And the first flame of doubt kicked up from the embers that had been glowing under the surface. The confusion I felt was fuel for the fire. I needed to understand. I needed to make sense of things. I needed to fix it.
My analytical mind went into hyper-drive. And what better than the idea of a "loving God" to pick apart when you're hurting and confused?
The roots of my Season of Doubt were diverse and spread wide. There were many legs to the table my struggle with faith rested on, but I couldn't admit until recently this particular loss in my life played a major part.
My challenge for today is simple but not easy:
Why are you doing what you're doing right now?
Really think hard about it. What is the deep emotional need that's driving you? Then ask someone you trust to speak into your life.