This month my mentee and I have been digging into Habit #2 from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People entitled, Begin with the End in Mind. During this habit we begin crafting their personal mission statement. As preparation, I’ve taken some time to “pre-reflect” prior to this journey on my own mission statement I had distilled back in December 2018:
These three words encapsulated a longer mission statement. The next three posts will be dedicated to deepening our understanding of these words, the significance they can have for our lives, and how we could live them out!
As humans we obsess about the starts and the ends of things. There is huge excitement to start a new project or we are all-out sprinting once the gun sounds at the start of a race. We are always ready for the next big thing…
Then, there is great ceremony and sometimes remorse at the conclusion of events or experiences. Graduation and retirement celebrations mark the end of a chapter, we cry when saying goodbye to close friends or family who are moving away, or we face the sting of regret as we reflect back on our lives when the years and people have passed along. We are almost never ready for things to end…
This fixation on beginnings and endings can be traced to the very nature that our ‘physical’ lives have a beginning and an end. Everything in the middle, we’ll call the GAP.
Living in the GAP is hard…
In the book Run with the Horses, Eugene Peterson describes the GAP experience this way:
“Some people as they grow up they become less. As children they have glorious ideas of who they are and what life has for them. Thirty years later we find that they have settled for something grubby and inane.”
As youth we start by living with awe, joy, excitement, enthralled by every new experience. Eugene goes on to describe what seems to be an almost contagious decline, we’ve even seen it start in some cases within our very own high school classrooms…
Yet, Eugene challenges us and asks these perceptive questions:
Other people as they grow up become more. Life is not an inevitable decline into dullness; for some it is an ascent into excellence.
How do I shed the fantasies of boyhood and simultaneously increase my hold on the realities of life? How do I leave the childish yet keep the accurate perceptions of the child?
Living in the GAP requires us adopting a mindset of possibility. We must recognize that our lives are not meant for living a life of reduction or dullness, but truly living towards growth and impact. I’m reminded of numerous places where true excitement and action can be found in the GAP of things…
The GAP on the electrode of a spark plug — without it the spark could not travel to ignite the combustible fuel in starting the engine.
The GAP found between soil particles — through these air and water can pass through which provide essential ingredients to grow healthy plants in the root layer.
The GAP found across the Grand Canyon — presents a beautiful topography that did not form overnight, but from years of flowing water through the GAP.
Finding meaningful living in the GAP is crucial because this is where we spend 99% of our lives…ponder that for a moment, it is neither in the start or finish of things, but in the middle where we spend our lives. I’ve heard often from individuals struggling with whether they are satisfied with the life they are living. Too often the root of their dissatisfaction comes from a lack of understanding what authentic living for themselves feels and looks like within the GAP. In many cases we spend our lives consumed with daily living where each action or cycle becomes a series of disconnected steps that in culmination leaves us empty and questioning the purpose of our own lives. It does not have to be this way!
Living our lives in the GAP means living with the knowledge and trust that God’s Always Purposeful (GAP)! There are no mistakes, no chances, there ARE reasons, destinies, and purposes. We are not just living lives of random experiences, they are experiences stitched together for a far greater purpose. Have faith in the GAP and live without abandon.
I’m excited to dive into the next post on the groundings behind the word LEARN. As always thanks for growing with me in the GAP of our shared living!
Take care my friends, Anthony