Are You Following Your Compass?

Meaning. It seems that people are seeking it more these days than ever before. We’ve all tried settling for less but somehow its lack just leaves us empty. Oh, most of us are good at pretending, many for lifetimes. But sooner or later the desire for meaning inevitably begins to pester us….

In the midst of a lucrative but numbing career.

After too many years in a secure but comatose marriage.

Following a traumatic but eye-opening personal tragedy.

At first it’s but a whisper. We can’t quite understand what it’s saying so we ignore it, attributing it to this “phase” we’re going through. Still, we sense that something is wrong, something is missing.

Gradually the whisper grows into a clear, unmistakable voice. “Time for a change,” it nudges.

“Oh no, not now,” we protest. “Okay, maybe my life isn’t that fulfilling, but at least it’s comfortable.”

Which is, of course, exactly the problem. Too much comfort makes God uncomfortable. Just look around.

Still we fight it, afraid of the implications, the unknown. But the volume continues to increase. “TIME FOR A CHANGE,” it blares as we awaken each morning.

But we’re not used to this kind of non-verbal communication. There must be a mistake. Maybe we’re misinterpreting it. Maybe if we wait long enough it will go away. And so we often force the message to take emotional or physical forms—depression, cancer, the like—to finally grab our undivided attention.

“Okay, okay,” you finally relent. “What do you want?”

“You know,” the voice replies.

“Hey, give me a break. I do not know,” you bluff.

“You know.” There is a smugness in the reply.

“Oh no!” you quiver. “Not that!”

“You know.”

“But what will my _______ think?”

“You know.”

“But how? Where do I start?”

“You know.”

The futility of such an argument soon begins to sink in and we’re left with no other choice than to plunge into our unknown. Right away we face a problem—there are no maps. It’s uncharted territory, for each person’s journey is unique. And so we bumble along, sometimes seeming to make progress, but other times getting even more lost. Yet all the while we come to know ourselves and life better which is, after all, the whole point.

Early in our search we’re likely to mistake feeling good for meaning. But as we continue our journey, we find that, while we do feel happier at times, pain is also a part of being human. We come to understand that pleasure and pain are but two of the many extremes which weave the fabric of fulfillment. And we slowly learn not to take either of them so seriously.

At first the journey seems to be fueled by courage and our egos like to take credit for this. But we gradually come to see that it’s ultimately a process of surrender….surrender to the unimaginable potential that lies within each of us. “What can I become?” we ask. “What else, really, is there to do?”

When we first embark upon our journey, we may think it is but a temporary adjustment to be made. But the further we travel, the more we come to see that it is a way of life—a permanent context for being. And out of this context, ever so slowly, emerges what we were searching for in the first place—meaning.

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#1 Annie Rose Stathes on 12.21.07 at 10:40 am

Heh, heh, heh…When I returned from South Africa I finally granted that little voice being and I am certainly in the throws of the unknown dealing with all sorts of “uncomfortable” feelings. I’ve surrendered (as much as I can know that I have) and I am swirling in directions that make no sense to me but that somehow feel “right” and true. I’ve never experienced such deep sadness but at the same time I’ve never felt so deeply fulfilled and so deeply trusting. I too thought that this was a temporary “thing” and that I would “come out of it” and “return to normal life”. But the deeper I go, the more I know that I am transforming and that, so long as I surrender, will continue to do so.

#2 jrpenberthy on 01.08.08 at 10:54 pm

Good/bad, right/wrong, happy/sad–all are just subjective judgments to tell us where we are on our spiritual path. We take ourselves so seriously! Ahh, the richness of it all!

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