Today is my 30th birthday.
The third decade of my life has passed and as I enter into a new season of life, I have found value in reflecting on the last 10 years of my journey. The last decade has included; getting married, moving across the country, finishing college, trying to make a movie, launching a political news site and running a marketing company. By the way, this was just how my wife and I started our 10 years.
There was excitement, discovery, and vision. Ups, downs, successes and failures riddled throughout the journey, and it has brought me to realize four powerful truths.
1) Our Relationship with God Matters.
2) Our Marriage Matters.
3) Our Work Matters.
4) How We Prioritize Matters.
Our Relationship with God Matters
Before leaving Arizona and moving to Atlanta with my bride, I grew up in a safe place, the Garden of Eden. It was a Christ centered home, loving parents, embracing community and a strong love for God and people. During this season I sought out learning about who God was and how he created me. It was a beautiful time, but it was not something I appreciated or fully understood. It was all I knew and for this reason, I took it for granted. It was not until I left home, moved across the country and faced the brute reality of life did I know what it meant to survive.
Life got hard. People, who I loved and never wanted to give up on, hurt me deeply. This chaos took me to a place of isolation and survival. I had become a shell of who I once was, but I was on a mission. I told God I was doing it for Him. Looking back, it’s funny how I justified my actions by saying I was doing it for God while I was neglecting our relationship. I became a martyr.
As the martyr, I drifted away as I got busy and overwhelmed. I believed I had to work more to keep the dream alive. I believed I had to spend less time with God so I could keep the business going. Yes, I was good at justifying. So good, I even convinced myself. But, it only led me to surviving and isolation mode.
I loved Jesus, but my actions had become weak in this claim. When I looked back at my years in Arizona, God had orchestrated a well of life for me to drink from. My parents, family and community were a part of this, but without it, I fell. It was a slow progression and when I realized it, I chose to stop it. This relationship with Jesus Christ mattered to me, and when I realized my way of doing things was not working I cried out to God to show me his way of doing things.
It was good, it was humbling, It was hard. This is when the tide changed, when He began to shape me into the man he intended me to be. In reflection, I realized our relationship with God matters.
Our Marriage Matters
While dating, my wife was top priority. After we married and moved to Atlanta, our priorities changed. We were now both on our own and we had to provide for ourselves. Adding college, various projects and the start of a company, we had a too many priorities to manage well. Like my relationship with God, I justified working 80 hour weeks because I was doing it for my wife. While I loved her, I fell into the trap of trying to please everyone. This led to a season of being reactionary. I was always fighting fire, but never the source of those fires. This fight led to a life of chaos.
The vision I painted for my wife was hard work and many hours was our investment in the future. The only problem was if we continued the way were going, our relationship would have been dead by the time we arrived. Neglecting my faith and our marriage should have been two flags which I could have taken notice. Every choice I made to put my work, team, and clients above our marriage meant I was starving my wife. When I chose to short change the less importance things in life for the sake of my wife, our relationship began to heal. In reflection, I realized our marriage matters.
Our Work Matters
After a few years growing our marketing company, we were making money. While stressful, projects were coming in and the team was growing. Unfortunately, there was a dissatisfaction I had with the work we were doing. It felt as if it was not enough. There was a desire for more meaning, and this was part of the drive to transform our company. I had struggled to find my purpose and our company struggled through a similar identity search. In this transformation, we realized how it affected us and we wanted to help others go through the self discovery journey. We left the mundane for the meaningful work, but I did not appreciate the value of the simple.
Helping people and companies figure out their purpose, become intentional and strive towards their vision was fulfilling and meaningful. What I also realized was building a website, taking out the trash, sending a thank you email or getting lunch with someone can have more meaning than the seemingly more “meaningful” activities. In fact, it is these many “trivial” activities that organically lead to the deeper discovery opportunities.
It was this transformation where I realized our work matters. No matter how simple, complex, meaningful or vein it might seem, people matter and how we do our work sets an example to others. By taking out the trash consistently, we could be teaching a friend to trust again. By being proactive with communication, we can be the exception to the cynic. In reflection, I realized our work matters.
How We Prioritize Matters
The order of how we do life matters. When we place God first, everything else seems to fall in place, at least it did for me. When I put God first, marriage became important. It fit under my relationship with God so well. When I prioritized marriage, it streamlined and improved my work.
God, Marriage and work all matter and how we order them matters. I had it all backwards for a while with work being number 1, marriage being number 2 and my relationship with God being number 3. This led to a life of chaos. When I learned how to order it as God intended, chaos became harmony and over time, in my environments.
Balancing our life and prioritizing what matters is hard, but the clearest way to find the answer is placing our relationship with God at number one. This state of being facilitates the process where our other priorities fall into place. In reflection, I realized how we prioritize matters.
How are you prioritizing your life?