Day 23: Mastery of Life and Purpose #28DayChallenge

Hello! Thanks for coming by (again). If you’ve taken time to read any of the previous 22 posts on this 28-day journey, I want to say a big “Thank You”. Nothing motivates a writer like knowing there are readers on the other side taking their precious time to stop and read. And if this is the first post in this series or on this blog you’re coming across, I say “Welcome” and “Thank You”!

I want to share a few thoughts today on four areas of our lives where we all need to develop mastery if we are going to fulfill our God-given purpose or even achieve our goals and desires. I chose the word “mastery” because it is associated with repetition and practice. It often also comes with making a lot of mistakes, which are a natural outcome of continuous practice in any field or discipline. The mastery we are looking at today, however, is related to our lives.

The first thing we must master is controlling our thoughts. There are thousands of thoughts that flood our minds each day, and we have to choose which to focus on, develop and act on. There is a risk that we sometimes just dwell on the thoughts that come at us repeatedly. Because anything I allow to dominate my mind dominates my life, I am deliberate about filling my mind with the right thoughts, for example, by reading my Bible every day. Do not permit just any thoughts to occupy your mind. Screen before permitting.

The next thing we must master is our words/speech. The Bible is clear that whoever who can control their tongue can control their life. While our words naturally follow our thoughts, I think of the mouth as a gate that can restrain the wrong thoughts from escaping our lips. We are often better off keeping quiet than chattering thoughtlessly. If you need time before speaking, take your time. There may be times that unplanned speech is necessary: this is why we should only nurture the right thoughts so that foolishness does not proceed from our lips because it does not exist in our minds.

The last two areas we must master are character building and choice of company (friends). These two go hand in glove because the company we keep influence our character, and our character determines the company we keep. Building character requires patience and persistence, and a willingness to learn from others. If you are not convinced about the value of good character, it is easy to expect people to accept you as you are or live as you please. This in turn leads to keeping company with people that are unwilling or unable to correct and challenge you. Without these, there can be no true growth.

Mastery in all four areas I have briefly highlighted requires a lot of continuous practice (with many mistakes). More importantly, the journey to gain such mastery is a never-ending one. But if you keep on that journey, you will be prosperous, and your life will be fulfilling! Thanks for coming by and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Remain blessed!

Day 4: The Loner #28DayChallenge

Day 4 of 28: proud of my progress! If you are reading this, thank you for being a part of this special writing journey, no matter when you are reading. Today, I want to slide across from yesterday’s theme and talk about the opposite of having friends: having none. I am a fan of Liverpool Football Club, and like many other fans, I like to croon along to the club anthem on the special occasions where it is sung, singing loudest at the last and most important line: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

In practice, however, we do walk alone sometimes. In fact, we all need some seasons of walking or being alone to come into our own. I am not talking about deliberately ostracizing yourself or strangling relationships around you so people can leave you alone. Rather, I am talking about periods of life, when by divine design or seeming coincidence, you just happen to have no close friend or confidante you speak to about your life affairs. If, however, this describes your default lifestyle, then you need to make a change! No one functions well continuously without a support system.

Seasons of solitude may last anywhere from days to months (or years?) and can be very useful for reflection on our personal values and convictions. They help us see who we are in the absence of others, and possibly identify strengths we need to amplify or weaknesses we need to fortify. Solitude is crucial to our development as individuals. Depending on who you are, however, it is very possible that you always avoid solitude and instead seek the company of others. I encourage you to consider that being alone for a time is not a malady; it may even be a blessing in the long run.

God’s call to the Jewish patriarch, Abraham, was a call to him ALONE. It was a call that separated him from his family and friends on placed him on a special mission. He would make new friends and build a family of his own, but I bet that his first few months or years as a sojourner must have felt very lonely. This is the thing with solitude: it is not always pleasant. We may feel the urgent need to socialize or connect with others but we must learn through practice when to remain alone with our thoughts and our God. Eventually, seasons of solitude often pass on their own, with new relationships emerging along with a renewed person.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I’ll be back here tomorrow to share some other thoughts. Cheers!

Day 3: The Friend #28DayChallenge

Thanks for coming by today! This is Day 3 of my 28-Day writing challenge. Today, I want to talk a bit about friendships. I’ve enjoyed great friendships through the years, and I believe that is the product of divine blessing and a mutual commitment to one another’s growth that my friends and I possess. I have also experienced seasons of intense loneliness, which I think are necessary for the formation of every person’s character. Sometimes, you do not know who you are until you are alone. In solitude, our true nature is revealed.

We all take on the shape of the interactions we have with others. Said differently, our personalities are products of traits built through various relationships, from familial and professional relationships to social and community relationships. So, friendships have a powerful influence on who we become and how we become that person. Like familial relationships, they influence what we believe and what we practice. But unlike familial relationships, we can choose who we connect with and how often we connect.

Naturally, we gravitate toward people we admire or feel a connection with, and friendships can be a powerful tool to steer our lives in the direction we want to go. Our friends can reflect our past, present or our future. They are a strong indication of where our minds are situated or what makes us comfortable. Because true friendships are not forced, who we make friends with say a lot about who we are. And even if they are not our true friends, who we spend our time with reflects our values, our priorities, and our sincerity.

Friends are those people to whom you gravitate in periods of intense emotion or clouded thoughts. When you are happy, sad, confused, or excited, you likely want to share your thoughts or feelings with your friends. While some people have different friends for different occasions, others have the same friend(s) for all seasons. Friends give you a chance to share your thoughts freely and receive honest feedback from others. Friends are those people with whom we love to share experiences. The best friends are like siblings to us, or even better. And those who have such close-knit friendships are truly blessed!

Sadly, people don’t always feel the same way towards each other, and someone you see as a friend or want to be friends with may see you just as a colleague or neighbor, or acquaintance and no more. Wisdom is knowing when to draw the line rather than foist an unwanted friendship on someone. Friendships sometimes grow stale because people grow in different directions, or because one or both parties were insincere to start with. Again, discernment is knowing when to pull back and avoid becoming a burden to another.

Friendships sometimes go sour because of offense or betrayal. Having a forgiving heart is important as with every relationship. Taking precautions to avoid future hurt is also important. Love should be freely given, but trust needs to be earned. Great friends are a gift from God, but they need to be nurtured through care and communication. No one likes to be the only giver in any relationship. We are all built through consistent giving and receiving.

And that is where I draw the curtain today…we go again tomorrow. See you, then!