This is an Own Your Life Book Club post. Even if you’re not reading through the book with us, please read on and be encouraged!
Over the last two years I have spent a great deal of time pondering my life.
I think often about the story my children will tell of me, what memories they will have, and what legacy I am passing down to them. I also think about how I am living. Am I living in such a way that at the end of it all I can look back and say, “I lived an unregrettable life“? I want to know that on the arc of it all, I lived well and true and in grace and with intention. I lived awake.
I want to live a fully alive, engaged life; I don’t want to just go through the motions getting through. I want to press on; I want to own my life.
Reading through the beginning and first three chapters of Sally Clarkson’s book, Own Your Life, I am not only reminded about my will to really live, but am inspired to keep on because God has a purpose for my life, and it’s to bring the light of His Kingdom to bear on this earth, where I am.
I loved how in the opening pages of the book Sally says to her daughter Joy who is about to head off to Oxford, “God has prepared a story for you to live. There will be many in Oxford who will long to know His love, something perhaps only you can show them. Others, looking for meaning, will need the messages of His truth that are stored in your soul. Those you meet who are filled with fear and despair will need your hope and faith.”
We all have a story to live, and our story is a part of God’s unfolding story. If are to be a people who bring light and love and relief to those around us and to dark places, we need to be fully engaged with our lives. We need to be owning our lives.
Before we go any further, let me give you Sally’s definition of owning your life:
Own your life means taking responsibility for our own behavior, decisions, and attitudes so we may fully embrace God’s amazing vision our my lives and leave a legacy that points others to Him. It means living up to our spiritual potential.
In order to own our lives, we need a grid for which to live our lives through. Here are the questions Sally asks to make sure she is living out the legacy of faith she has committed to:
- Am I being intentional?
- Am I making decisions based on biblical values?
- Am I choosing the pathways that will create deep, loving relationships and give value to the people personally connected to me?
- Am I willing to take risks of faith to invest my life in the things of eternity?
- Am I listening to the world or to the voice of God?
- Am I living with Christ and His life as the pattern for my own life?
- Do I see this day, these circumstances as a place in which I can fulfill God’s will?
I will have a printable up for you later today with these questions so you can print it out and look on it every day.
What wisdom there is in this grid through which to live! And don’t we especially need this on the hard days?
I love how Sally talks about a real make-it-or-break-it moment for her. She was dealing with loneliness and discouragement, and her children were running around the house and she was hiding behind her couch (anyone relate?). As she sunk down lower into herself, struggling with what her life had become, she realized that “my life was a pile of puzzle pieces, all mixed with no seeming pattern or logical way to fit them together. And a heroine was not to be found in the picture. As I scrutinized the landscape of my soul, I saw endless darkness down a gloomy hallway that seemed to end in despair. Nothing in my life seemed to be matching up with my ideals; I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained, and everyone and everything depended on my keeping it all together.”
After praying and crying and thinking over her life she says she had a “come to Jesus meeting”. She asked for escape, but instead a scripture came to her mind: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteous ness” (Hebrews 12:11). What captured her were the words, “trained by it.” Training takes time, and she knew God wanted to train her in holiness. She goes on to talk about the Lord whispering into her spirit that He was asking her to live faithfully where she was as He would humble her heart and shape her character; He was writing her story. She committed in that moment to trusting Him, no matter what happened, that she would be obedient and bring joy where she was, choosing to believe that God was with her. She became resolved.
And thank God she did, because now her children are grown and she has lived a faithful legacy of faith that has now impacted thousands of women all over the world, including me.
There is obviously so much more to share. This book and just the first few chapters are filled with insight and wisdom. If you haven’t yet got a copy, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Here are some quotes that impacted me from the first few chapters:
“God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, what do You ant me to dream for You? How do You want me to serve What work do You have for me to do?”
“There is no single way to serve God, but the point is this: We each have only one life to live to tell a story about Him, about His ways, about His love. And if we are Christ followers, then God calls us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are.”
“She didn’t need to find peace in the chaos, instead, she needed to move, step-by-step, toward a more reasonable and centered life.”
“Our calling is to bring light – like Jesus – so that when we step into the worlds of others, we bring His peace to every person and enlighten the dark places of the world.”
“Deciding to like yourself is a choice to validate God’s design on your life.”
On criticism: “If I allow their words to destroy my self-image, then I am allowing them to control me. As I have grown in my walk with God, I’ve thankfully realized that allowing others to control the way I think about myself is a dark, endless hole. I am committed to gradually growing and learning in every area of my life, but essentially I have accepted that I will always be the same person under it all. I must daily decided to enjoy the person God made me to be.”
Choosing to Own My Life
One of the ways I am going to own my life is by printing out the questions above and putting them somewhere I can see every day to help me live with intention. I think this would be a great series of questions for children as well, and I might even create a kids version and put it in my kids rooms. If I do, I’ll pass it along to you.
What stood out to you in the first three chapters? What wisdom did you glean? What will you apply to your life, or what truth will you let sink in, from this weeks reading?
P.S. The winners of the Own Your Life book giveaway are: Trina Wilhelm, Kali Smith, Tiffany Jones, Kelly Kortright! Congrats! You’ll be getting an email from me soon!
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