We live in a world comprised of words.
We murmur them in our sleep, and moan them in pain.
We use them to convey every emotion, even when we withhold them to prove our point.
I use words for… everything. I think words that I never speak, and say words that I didn’t mean. I say profound words that impact lives and make a difference. I listen to words as a counselor, and give words of peace as a pastor. I process my words and hurry them without thinking, and I ruminate on words that I spoke long ago. I hurt myself and other with invisible words as surely as through they were a knife to the heart, and I also gift words of love and compassion that impart life long commitment and love to my innermost circle.
We regret not having last words with the dead. We regret not saying “I love you,’ just as much as we regret saying it when we know it’s not true.
We use words to change the world. We pay for them, orchestrate them and make big neon moving signs with them.
We use them to label, to bully, to worship.
I sing words in the shower, write them endlessly on paper, post them here to THM and print other people’s words that I imagine in books.
Take away our words and you take away our humanity. If love is what makes life worth living, it is the meaning of our words that provides the light for the journey.
There is a famous quote that goes something like this…and oddly, it’s unattributed.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Ah, destino, that lovely word that means “destiny.” What is your destiny? How are your thoughts connected to that purpose that brought your soul to this earth in this time and space?
Many people that I meet have no idea what their destiny is. Lacking that elemental focus they are instead ships without a compass, moving with the waves of life in free falling, directionless circles. They pick one star or two, make port in a place that isn’t horrible and just …. stay. Later, when their permanently docked-in-compromise and rushed decisions ship begins to show signs of wear from being in the wrong port for to long, they regret the decision to follow the star that led them there – although they chose the star, not the other way around.
The star knows it’s destiny, it’s fulfilled it’s purpose.
It reflected light.
That was it, the star’s purpose. It had nothing to do with you – it’s a star.
The captain made assumptions about that light because it suited him- the star, it was just there.
So what is destiny?
How do we go from the questionable word assume – making an ass-of-u-and-me – to really taking our destiny into our own field of responsibility? I have some suggestions of my own, and those from the book “What’s Your Purpose” by David Jacobs.
Imagine you’re on a desert island and that all of your basic needs are taken care of. There’s limitless food, utilities, gas for your free car and there’s no need for money. Oh, and there’s also a few thousand other nice and law abiding people on the island with you – so you’re never going to feel lonely or depressed ever again. Now, what are you going to do? It would be tempting to do nothing but sit in the sun and drink martinis for a while but what about after that? What would you do to fill your time? More especially, what could you do that might benefit your community? Write down your answer, whatever it might be.
- Imagine, after you’ve died, you’re looking at your tombstone. What would you like to see written on it? It could be just one word like “Statesman” on something longer like “She made a difference”. Whatever. Write down your answer.
- Imagine you’re in Heaven and reading through a “Book of Life”. Next to everyone’s name there is a 50 word description of their life. What would you like yours to say? Write down your answer.
- Imagine Hollywood has made a movie out of your life – and they need one of those taglines to advertise it. What would it say? It should be short and snappy like “Justice has a new hero” or “She rocks”, something that sounds like a slogan. Write down your answer.
- Imagine you have a one minute slot on a microphone that everyone in the world will hear. What would you say? Basically for this one you need to work out what you would want to be remembered for – or what kind of important message you would like the whole world to hear. Write down your answer.
- Imagine you’re a superhero. What powers do you have? You can make a list of 5 or 10. it’s up to you. Then pick one. This really teaches you about what kind of person you are – and what’s important to you. Do you want to be able to fly? If so, why? Do you want to be able to become invisible? Why? Write down your answer.
- And finally, based on all of the answers to the questions above, make a statement about your purpose. Start with “My purpose is…” Try to keep it short, less than 12 words is ideal. Write it down. Carry it with you. Look at it often. Change and update it if necessary. You’ll find that just having a meaningful purpose statement can change virtually every area of your life. It helps you prioritize what’s important to you. It helps you make decisions about what to do in your life – how you spend your time. Your purpose statement gives you a ‘rudder’ by which to steer your life.
I agree with Jacobs, and tried this for myself. Of course, I have spent a year understanding my new context and how I spent three years in seminary just to wind up writing from a universal perspective. I found the people I expected most from gave the least, and real friendship and love from people who aren’t what you’d think from the outside wrapper. I found in this world of words and emotions the most important words are the ones that you say to yourself.
My friend Kimberly wrote in not to long ago and I’ve yet to respond to her – sorry, Kim, I’ve been swamped at school and with deadlines – and asked a somewhat rhetorical question.
“Why, when I know that I’m better off without Mr. Ex do I still think about that relationship?” When she thinks about it (words) she begins to feel the pain all over again (bigger words.) Those emotions encourage her say things like “I can’t deal with the thought of him being with someone else – and that is so silly!” I received another email just today from a person that used to know a guy, liked him – and now in his absence feels that this person was “the one.”
Her words have moved to serve something other than her own best interest.
Inside your mind there are conscious and subconscious forces at work. Yes, our Id, Ego and SuperEgo are all alive and well inside of each of us – borderlines and psychopaths not withstanding – and they are whispering like the angel, devil and traffic cop that they are. Hard question of the day – do you really miss that PERSON for who and what they are, or do you miss the YOU that this person is associated with?
For all of you out there who are wondering why you can’t forget the one that you either walked away/were thrown away from, or a situation that has ended in your life, hear me now. The person that you’re imagining is probably not real. For all of you who are brokenhearted and really down – trust me, if this was the end of all things, you’d see desolation in the landscape. You will live on, be happy – if you chose – and go on. If you’ve lived with them for ten years +, know their failings and your still in love them – and deeply value their person hood separately from you – you’re probably meant to be. If decades pass in a blur and you just cohabiting, it’s possible that you’re both really not wanting to face the world on your own.
Does that mean love doesn’t hit a stall point for a moment and make you reassess? Holy cow, that is almost part of being in long term love. You readjust and grow as people and as partners. That is where all our words come in – years of words collected, actions that speak louder than words, arguments, things that both break and build. Words that we send into the universe come back to us from the great Divine who hears all these promises that you make with words. Little or big. Love can hit snags when words run out, run amok, run over. I’m passionate in my love with MyBri – but even we had one year in the past decade that was pretty tough. I’d been at the hospital for almost four months straight (working) and before that, we’d owned a small business that I managed for 12-16 hours a day. We’d forgotten what made us fun. We stopped exchanging MEANINGFUL words and got down to resentful words. He’d forgotten that in my purpose of Mom, wife and Chef, I also had to have my own purpose as a person – and so did he. We’d become slaves to what “we owned.” Actually, it owned us.
You need to know your purpose or you’ll get off track for becoming who your soul longs to be. You will start finding your fulfillment in another person – and that is almost always a bad idea. Even as a Mommy, I cannot find my fulfillment in my daughters – I can in being a great mother. My daughters will always need that – but not in their physical presence in my home. They’ve grown up as children do (except Taryn, and at 8 she already fantasizes about college). If I got all my worth from being their parent, when they left home Brian and I would have nothing to say to one another.
For my two email ladies, you’re not really missing a person as much as you are missing a feeling – that feeling that you’ve discovered where you belong, where all your parts have meaning and value, or that this is what it would have turned into.
The feeling that you’re seeking isn’t part of a person – it’s part of being in a fulfilling relationship with a person that meets your needs and whose needs your meeting. Maybe it’s the feelings of excitement and passion – still, not the other person, but a collection of feelings. Long term, there is going to be more than one “fit” out there – but not while you’re focused on the rose colored glasses of a bad situation.
Whatever isn’t part of your destiny should fade in time if you will let it – even if you want to keep it. You cannot be on the road to your own destiny, traveling with someone who is taking a different path. I can’t travel I40 West or any other west bound route from Indiana to get to NYC. I have to go East.
Making a Decision for Purpose
My purpose is to write, to affect change in the world that I touch, and to be authentic. The authentic me loves being MyBri’s wife and the girls’ mother. I love teaching and talking and writing. I love my sister D, and my crazy house. I love my book covers and this website. All of that is connected to my purpose – giving in love. Affirmation is great – but I know who and what I am. I don’t need approval anymore.
Happiness is in your purpose – not in another human being.
So now that you’ve cleared the cobwebs of “someone that you used to know” how do you go about finding your purpose? Back to WORDS. You search for those clues within yourself, where most your answers hide out anyhow. Try this really great exercise from Think Simple Now.
15 Questions to Discover Your Life Purpose
I was browsing through the internet one day and happened upon an article by Think Simple Now that also had some great advice for figuring out which way your compass is really pointing. If you’re like me and sometimes mislead by emotions, make sure that you’re able to articulate these thoughts and really do it with the intent of changing your life – not justifying why staying where you are stuck is best if it’s making you miserable.
The following are a list of questions that can assist you in discovering your purpose. They are meant as a guide to help you get into a frame of mind that will be conducive to defining your personal mission.
What to Do:
Take out a few sheets of loose paper and a pen.
Find a place where you will not be interrupted. Turn off your cell phone.
Write the answers to each question down. Write the first thing that pops into your head. Write without editing. Use point form. It’s important to write out your answers rather than just thinking about them.
Write quickly. Give yourself less than 60 seconds a question. Preferably less than 30 seconds.
Be honest. Nobody will read it. It’s important to write without editing.
Enjoy the moment and smile as you write.
15 Questions to ask yourself:
1. What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
2. What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
3. What activities make you lose track of time?
4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
5. Who inspires you most? Which qualities inspire you, in each person? Please, be honest. Don’t puff up.
6. What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
7. What do people typically ask you for help in?
8. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
9. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
10. You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch; you can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy, and are pleased with the wonderful life you’ve been blessed with. Looking back at your life and all that you’ve achieved and acquired, all the relationships you’ve developed; what matters to you most? List them out.
11. What are your deepest values?
12. What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
13. What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
14. If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?
15. Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? ( to people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)
If you have time and inclination, click over to TSN, it’s a great free site with some well written self help. She’s got more on purpose that may help you.
So that brings us back to my original point – words. Words are the first hearer of your destiny, and determine if you’re going to make it there alone or in love. wonder how words might affect you? According to the Boston Globe:
Dr. Louann Brizendine, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco states in “The Female Brain” that “A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.”
“The Female Brain” has made quite a splash since its publication last month, and this word-count claim is one of the most striking facts supporting her argument that the female brain is “a lean, mean communicating machine.” The 20,000 vs. 7,000 numbers have been cited in reviews all over the world, from The New York Times to the Mumbai Mirror.
The book’s endnotes appear to attribute the numbers to a 1997 self-help book by Allan Pease and Allan Garner, “Talk Language: How to Use Conversation for Profit and Pleasure.” But Pease himself has presented several different word count numbers in other sources.
In 2000, he published “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps” (with Barbara Pease), which attributes to women “6,000-8,000 words,” while men get “just 2,000-4,000 words.” (They also offer daily counts for women’s and men’s “vocal sounds” and “facial expressions, head movements, and other body language signals”-but don’t provide a source for any of the counts.) In a 2004 CNN interview, Allan Pease said that “women can speak 20,000 to 24,000 words a day versus a man’s top end of 7,000 to 10,000.”
The average heart beats 72 times a moment, for a total of about 103,000 beats per 24 hours. If you assume that the average human in the US is awake from 6 – 11 each day, that is 17 hours, or 73440. If a woman chats 30k words, that is one word for ever 2.5 heart beats. Wow. I am preparing to work with a person that is negative for at least 5 of eery ten heart beats. and she wonders why she “has no friends.” Just in case you had missed it the first time…
- What you put into the universe comes back to you – eventually in some cases, immediately in others.
- Words have power to bind you to promises, break hearts – including yours – and convince even you of truth in falsehood.
- Sometimes, the highest form of respect is quiet.
- Your character – it counts. Whenever I’ve forgotten that, I’ve lost my purpose and self respect.
- Authenticity matters.