I didn't like it.
When I started doing life on purpose - or rather, with purpose - I started to notice that I generally felt more fulfilled as a human. What I'm about to write here has little to do with becoming a better Christian (though this is ultimately where this blog leads to) and has more to do with directing one's life in a way that ultimately leads to some sort of stability and fulfillment. Mystic and Christian, Paul writes:
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil. 4:12, NIV)
As our forerunner in the Christian tradition, we learn from Paul that contentment or a fulfilled life does not hang on whether we are fed or hungry (to use the analogy), but upon something else. Contentment in our lives has much more to do with being able to function with a sound mind about what we're doing. This being said, one of the things that I have found is a good question to ask myself on a regular basis is the title of this post: "Where are you going?"
I know that my reader may not be going anywhere physically but most people are "going" somewhere figuratively or in their spiritual or mental lives. For example, students are "going" somewhere psychologically and catechumen are "going" somewhere spiritually. These are two obvious examples. It is important, however, that we as Christians continue to "move" or grow in our knowledge and spirituality all to the end of growing the Kingdom of God.
So how do we go about answering the posed question? What has helped me in my journey is crafting a prayer. Yes, I said a prayer; not a mantra, nor a motto or a theme but a prayer. For me, I found that by praying, I acknowledge my great need for a savior and that my sustenance ultimately comes from God. Also unique to myself is that I have learned mine in Latin. I recite it this way for two reasons: 1. I took Latin in my undergrad and there fell in love with the language and 2. I feel a sense of connection to the historical church when I say it this way. So, I'm not saying you need to come up with a Latin prayer, but I am saying that you need to have a guide in your actions, decisions and ultimately your life in order to begin to answer the question of this post.
Crafting my Prayer
One of the first things that I asked myself when coming up with my prayer was to try and think of things that were most important to me. For me and after much reflection, these were truth, wisdom and love. These things, to me, are what makes up the foundations of how we encounter the world and, thus, how we act, make decisions and spend our energies.
The first thing in my prayer is truth. This is the search and attainment of reality. Author Donald Miller once said that "reality is like a fine wine; it simply won't appeal to the immature". Admittedly, this is a paraphrase, but the idea stands: in order to be mature, we must embrace reality in all its starkness. This has led me to not turn away from hard news articles that report tragedy (though I think there is an over-saturation of these kinds of articles) and not mentally shrug off global issues.
I have found in my life that wisdom is usually the positive reciprocal of humility. That is, when I am more wise, I am also more humble and vice versa. Wisdom is essentially how we interpret the world that we encounter. If I am encountering this world with humility, I am more likely to see the world through a more realistic lens. It is those who are concerned with protecting their ego that usually view the world in a distorted way. My goal in including this wisdom piece is to avoid misinterpreting the world for the sake of my ego.
Ultimately, love runs all. God is love and thus is, and should be, above all. Keeping in mind that the love I pray for is an acknowledgment of God's intrinsic character, it only makes sense in the context of truth and wisdom. As Christians, our love is an extension of God's and, through his empowerment, we are able to effectively spread this concern for all creatures of our world.
I will include my prayer at the bottom for the reader (both in Latin and English) but I want to say here that this prayer will likely not be the perfect prayer for you. Mine is from my subjective perspective and, for you, there may be more important things. Also, it should be said that we should be careful to let our prayers evolve. Clearly the Christian tradition affirms personal and novel prayer but the tradition of pre-written, pre-meditated prayer is deep and for good reason: they help to focus our lives.
I hope this has inspired some thought and meditation and I hope that from self-reflection you are able to come up with something to help guide your 2015 and life, ultimately answering the question "where are you going?"
Orationes Alexander Munionis
da nobis veritatem super consolatione
et diligere super omnia.
in nomine Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti
The Prayer of Alexander Munoz
Give us truth over comfort,
wisdom over status
and love over everything.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Again, I iterate that this may not be your prayer. This is simply how I have tried to guide myself through life's ups and downs. Feel free to share your own in the comments!