VENTURING FORTH

In his book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life”, Richard Rohr says:

“…the task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s life and answer the first essential questions: ‘What makes me significant?’ ‘How can I support myself?’ and ‘Who will go with me?” The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver.” 1

“Only when you have begun to live in the second half can you see the difference between the two. Yet the two halves are cumulative and sequential and both are very necessary” 2

“We are”, he says in his Introduction, “a ‘first-half-of-life culture,’ largely concerned about surviving successfully.” 3  “But it takes us much longer,” he continues, “to discover ‘the task within the task,’ as I like to call it: what we are really doing when we are doing what we are doing.” 4 “It is when we begin to pay attention, and seek integrity precisely in the task within the task that we begin to move from the first to the second half of our own lives. Integrity largely has to do with purifying our intentions and a growing honesty about our actual motives. It is hard work. Most often we don’t pay attention to that inner task until we have had some kind of fall or failure in our outer tasks.” 5

As we pointed out in “Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Fulfilling Your God-Ordained Destiny” 6, American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow postulated a hierarchy of needs, beginning with the most basic needs of food, drink, shelter and relief from pain and progressing upward through safety and security, belongingness and affiliation, esteem and finally to self-actualization. Maslow’s theory assumes that a person must fully satisfy the first level needs before progressing to the second level and so forth. For this reason most people fail to reach the ultimate level of self-actualization, or becoming who they were created to become. Maslow and Rohr are both implying that we tend to be so concerned with the mundane issues of life that we fail to even consider there may be something more to be obtained. It is only when we come to the realization that what we have attained does not satisfy the deeper longings of our soul that we begin to search for something further.

This occurs for many when they experience a so-called “mid-life crisis”, the solution to which is to make a pivot of some sort and proceed in a different direction toward a different goal. In the nine plus years since my retirement I have worked with a number of people in the midst of job transition, either having lost their job or simply unhappy with their current job. Many of these have been middle-aged and most of those have expressed a desire to find work that would be more meaningful than what they have been doing. In Rohr’s words they are wanting to begin filling the container they have created with what it is meant to contain. I like to think of this as coming to know who you are and why you are here; that is, what your purpose in life is meant to be. Discovering that and striving to fulfill your purpose is where you will find your greatest satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. This always involves leaving your comfort zone and going out into the unknown with no guarantee of success.

Since God created us to “do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV), it makes sense for us to ask God what those works are. Fortunately he is more than willing to show us. Jesus came to earth in the flesh to do just that. It won’t happen without a willingness to change on our part and to venture forth from the comfort zone we have created for ourselves. When Jesus began his ministry his first command was “Repent {Greek metanoia}, change your mindset (look at the world differently) and then he invited us to follow him and do what he taught and showed us to do. And his worldview and actions were radically different from what the world taught and did. He made it clear you couldn’t follow him without leaving everything else behind and focusing only on the road ahead.

If you have read “Spiritual Entrepreneurship” you know what that meant for my wife Mary and me. When we made our joint commitment to follow Christ wherever he led us, it meant not only leaving home, our extended family and our circle of friends for a strange and foreign land (south Louisiana) but also for me leaving behind my chosen profession of aerospace engineering and for Mary to pursue a career path she had not anticipated. It was not without trepidation that we made that first move, and for a while we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. But in the long run we not only discovered much more about who we were and what we were capable of doing, but most importantly that the plans God had for our lives were much more exciting and rewarding, and, yes, challenging than what we could ever have imagined for ourselves. It simply required venturing forth and never looking back.

As we described in our book, over the 53 plus years we shared together our containers were filled to the brim and overflowing. Talk about self-actualization. We achieved it in spades. We travelled the world together (all 50 of the United States and over 60 foreign countries) and enjoyed successful professional careers in a variety of industries. And now that Mary has passed on to her reward, I find myself going ever further from where I began and accomplishing even more than what I thought I was capable of. And I am no different than any one of you. God is no respecter of persons. He will bless beyond measure anyone who is willing to venture forth and follow where he leads. What about you?

Notes:

  1. Rohr, Richard, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 2011), p. 1
  2. , p. 2
  3. , p. xiii
  4. , p. xiv
  5. , p. xv
  6. Harrison, Bill and Mary, Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Fulfilling Your God-Ordained Destiny (Tulsa, OK: Total Publishing & Media, 2017), pp. 120,121

 

 

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