Figure Yourself Out

Proverbs 20:5 A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out.

One of the things that most adults realize at some point in their life is that we are complicated beings, and that there is a whole lot about ourselves that we don’t really understand. There is like a deep well inside of us and the things at the bottom influence us, but we don’t know what they are, how they got there, and how to fix them or get rid of them if they are bad, or how to draw them out if they are good and noble.

We all have likes and dislikes, ways of reacting to various events and circumstances that our life experiences, positive and negative, have shaped in us. When I walk into a hospital I usually faint within 15 minutes. Why? I don’t know, but I bet I wasn’t born that way. Some past events impacted my inner being in such a way so that is now what I do.

One of the things at the bottom of the well are our most core desires, wants, and dreams. Sometimes kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up, and they will usually answer a firefighter or something glamorous or adventurous like that. But I do believe that beginning at a very early age; we all start formulating an image of ourselves, who we want to be, including our accomplishments. The reason they are at the bottom of the well is that at a very early age we start to experience disappointments. What we wanted for Christmas didn’t happen, and many other hopes and desires aren’t realized. We discover that disappointment is painful and the greater the desire the greater the pain if it doesn’t happen. So because we are wired for self-preservation, we bury the strongest, most heartfelt desires and dreams so we aren’t disappointed when they don’t happen. Much of what is in our deep well was put in us by God, and got shoved down to the bottom because of our fear of disappointment.

Psalms 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

I, for one, want to draw out of that deep water in me what my desires, longings, and dreams are, and accomplish them. Nothing pulls out of me stuff that I didn’t know was in me like reflective writing does. I interrogate myself with written questions and I answer them in writing. Questions about why I did or said something, or opted out of doing or saying something.

What I aim for in that self-examination is a purpose statement that shapes my goals. I have been doing this long enough now that my “Life Purpose Statements” are pretty much made and complete, and that further reflective thinking and writing refines them but doesn’t change them much.

One of my “Life Purpose Statements” is to experience as much as possible in my years of living. So one of my goals that shapes my goals is “Every year I will learn a new skill, I will go someplace I have never been before, I will do something I have never done before, and I will do something that I am afraid of doing, I will take a risk.”

Writing new goals every year is a great way to grow yourself in character. 2022 is close, write some goals, not just simple “to-do list” kind of goals, but ones that challenge, motivate, scare the heck out of you, will take some work, ones that will impress your grandkids, ones that will change other people as well as yourself. Don’t forget to share them with me.

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