Rule of Life: Part 2

Apr 30, 2012

*This is a first draft. Grace please. If you’ve not yet read part one, you can read it here.

“Your personal rule of life is a holistic description of the Spirit-empowered rhythms and relationships that create, redeem, sustain, and transform the life God invites you to humbly fulfill for Christ’s glory” ~Stephen A. Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life

My Spiritual Gifts, Natural Talents, and Temperament

Perhaps the greatest surprise for me came through an awareness that in addition to the natural talents and spiritual gifts I had been aware of for years (writing, creativity, intuitiveness, discernment, and knowledge) I also possessed a unique temperament that was foundational in discerning my life’s mission and purpose. Unfortunately, while I had glimpses into who I actually was over the years, I was unable to reach a full awareness on my own, needing the help of a coach, who offered me an MBTI personality assessment.

Based on my assessment, I am an INFP. Both on paper and experientially, I am highly intuitive, creative, and spiritual, and tend to go through life shaping meaning out of everything. I also have a natural tendency to guard my feelings, which protects me from attack and ridicule by others unaware of my sensitivity. I only allow a few to enter my inner domain, and most of the time, it is not a conscious decision. It’s always been that way and probably always will.

While my assessment really didn’t tell me anything new, it confirmed what I already knew, making it “official” in one sense, validating my right to celebrate and embrace the woman God created me to be—even if others sometimes find it perplexing. I felt tremendous liberty.

While the freedom is glorious for me, I sometimes am somewhat of an enigma to people around me. Described as “aloof” and “guarded” since first grade, I’ve learned that others sometimes neither understand nor like this aspect of who I am. I try to be sensitive to that, but I fail far more often than I succeed. It is a fine line between walking in liberty without others misinterpreting my preference for privacy as rejection, and I repeatedly struggle to honor the way God made me and respond in love to those around me.

My Holistic and Long-Term Vision and Passion

My vision of life and spirituality is holistic. All of life is God’s domain, and while I enjoy having a church home, I equally enjoy being out in nature, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I choose to attend to the opportunities and people that cross my paths, finding God in the simple, ordinary tasks of daily living, finding it delightful and satisfying. Like my temperament, strengths, and talents, my love have nature goes back to my childhood.

Since childhood, my passion has always been words. Lousia May Alcott and Madeline L’Engle taught me the power of story and words. Words breathe life into me like few other things do. They seem almost sacred to me  — whether they were describing Jesus in the Bible or the beauty of a garden. I was nine years old, when I first sensed the call to write.

Over the years, my love of words has grown and blossomed, changing shape as the seasons shifted, but it has remained a constant—whether through reading or writing. What a joy it has been to write for publication and to share the thoughts and ideas that dance through my mind with others, wanting them to experience what has always been true for me— words have the power to impart life, hope, healing, comfort, understanding, and so much more.

Once I answered the questions about identity and giftedness, a sense of purpose naturally followed. As an INFP, I am on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter, every bit of knowledge gained gets sifted through my value system and my purpose to help people live and lead from the inside out so they can experience God’s kingdom and extend it through their lives.

My writing, coaching, speaking, and teaching are all just containers for the message written on my heart. And the message is this — your life matters no matter who you are. You will find your deepest joy and greatest satisfaction only in Jesus Christ. Whether you are a surgeon at prestigious hospital, a writer who shares her story and life’s lessons in books or magazines, or an office worker whose daily encounter with others, your life is pregnant with purpose. Give birth to the dreams and visions God has planted in your heart – for your sake and for the sake of others.

Pulling it All Together

My Rule of Life is simple and flexible, but generally contains the following:

Daily: Spend time with God and others cultivating depth and intimacy in relationships, while allowing sufficient study for reflection, writing, and reading—activities that center me and give me something to contribute to relationships. Engage in regular spiritual practices, such as slowing, journaling, silence, and solitude, and of course prayer. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Continue to simplify my life, removing “things” that take time but fail to add value. I’ve found that I can live on far less that I realized, so I continue to prune my possessions and calendar.

Weekly: Commit to a local church; worship and serve, or contribute versus consume, weekly or more as my health allows. Teach classes, pray with people, make people feel loved and welcome.

Quarterly: Complete a quarterly inventory and assessment of my life, determining what is working and what isn’t. This includes assessing every area of my life—physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, educational, and personal growth and development. Prune, prune, and prune some more. Tend to necessary endings.

Annually: Retreat annually to the country for a silent retreat. Nourish body, soul, and spirit, and rest in God’s love. Read for formation, bask in silence and solitude, indulge in extended times of listening prayer, prayer of examen, and lectio divina. Receive from God.

Mary Oliver’s compelling poem, The Summer Day, never fails to move me and seems especially fitting for the topic of this essay. In it, she asks this provocative question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Do you know?

Now What?

If you’d like help understanding your unique design, consider coaching with me or one of my colleagues. It’s amazing the difference coaching can make.

You might also consider purchasing Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to a Well-Ordered Way by Stephen A. Macchia.