These can sometimes be challenging questions. In our family, we have a motto of working hard and achieving. So a question I have had to deal with is: What does that mean for me now that I am no longer working as a dentist? Are you going through a transition? Or want to know what your purpose is in life?
I remember my mother, a successful obstetrician and gynecologist, saying she felt she retired too young at 73. But I believe the real reason she felt this was because she'd lost her purpose. She struggled after retirement with depression and she lost her identity. She shared this with me over a few wines, back in the days when I drank, and cried, saying she felt worthless. I tried to encourage her about what she had achieved in her life.
And now I can relate to her, having retired early at 58. But as Christians, there is more in life than worldly success. And I believe that God has new beginnings for us at all ages.
In Christian circles, we are told that God has a plan for us a good plan, but what does that look like as we age? Even for young people, I believe the idea of God's plan can be elevated to a lofty pie-in-the-sky vision, which can sometimes end up doing more harm than good. It is wonderful for those people who have a wonderful vision to change the world, but what does that thinking do for the rest of us? Sometimes it creates expectations so high that we never achieve them.
So what does finding God’s plan for us, look like? I have always liked the analogy that God’s will for us is like a playground. We can choose freely to play on the swings, or maybe the slide, but of course if we go out on the road, out of God’s will, then we could be hit by a truck. What would we enjoy in the playground? A parent taking his child to the park would be frustrated if the child turned back to them and said but I want your perfect will. What do you want me to play on? No, I believe we all have a choice and if we need direction, God will certainly guide us. We can trust Him in that.
So, in seasons of transition, how can we be fulfilled? How can we be motivated? A coach has said to me recently, it is great to consider during the day what is going well, and at night to go to sleep thinking of three things to be grateful for. These tips will certainly help up to focus on good things and choose life in our thinking. Put things into a godly perspective. We can complain about all we have to do, or we can enjoy the journey. As I looked up at the sky this morning, thinking that today would be a great day, (another suggestion from my coach), I noticed the half-moon in the sunrise and a beautiful star next to it. His mercies are new every morning, after all! By focusing on what is going well during the day, it is easier to notice what you are achieving and to enjoy the things you do, even if they may seem small.( Need some help? Contact Sharon at https://www.ubeu.nz/)
What about motivation at work? How can you enjoy your day? I think naturally our minds can focus on the negative. Instead, what about focusing on a compliment you received, or enjoying the banter as you work in a team?
As a dentist, I loved to create beautiful smiles for people, but equally, it was great to extract a problem tooth and see the person relieved as they became numb. I knew they would feel better from what I had done, even if it was difficult for them to get through.
So my encouragement for you today is to be thankful for the little things, the minor accomplishments. And to know that despite the challenges in this world, it is a great place.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."