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Quit Living Someone Else's Life

Posted on September 17th, 2010

I QUITToward the end of his life, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was asked what person in history he would most like to have been. He responded by saying he would most like to have been the George Bernard Shaw he might have become but never did.

How about you? Whose life are you living — ​your own or someone else’s? The pressure on ­Jesus to live someone else’s life was enormous. Yet, by the power of the Holy Spirit and in communion with God, he stayed true to his own life and purpose, finishing the work the Father had given him (John 17:4). Four practices that provide trustworthy guidance for this journey: Discover Your Integrity The journey of living your life instead of someone else’s begins when you discover your integrity. This requires recognizing and defining what is important to you. When helping someone who is struggling with an inner conflict, I often ask, “What is your integrity calling you to do?” Most ­people hesitate before responding because they have rarely thought deeply about what they believe and value. The question behind that question is this: “What is important to you?” Listen to Your Inner Rhythm All creation has a natural rhythm. We have night and day, winter and summer, and the great movements of seas and stars. Our bodies have rhythms. When we ignore this wonderful gift from God and work seventy hours a week, skim on our sleep, skip meals, or push our bodies beyond their limits, we suffer. If I neglect my relationship with God, if I go beyond my ­people limits, if I don’t nurture delight and joy, my soul begins to die. Rhythm has to do with timing — ​when it is time to engage or disengage, to remain or to transition, to be with ­people or be apart, to work or to rest, to play or to be serious. Set Your Boundaries With whom do you need to set boundaries? The answer is simple: with everyone! This includes your mother, father, siblings, spouse, children, friends, coworkers, even your pet! Boundaries are crucial if you are to avoid detours and follow God’s path for you. It’s not bad that ­people want what they want. ­People will always want things from you — ​your time, your emotional support, your expertise, etc.  This is normal. It also does not make them bad.  However, the fact that someone wants something from you does not necessarily mean God wants you to provide it or that he wants them to have it. Let Go of Others Controlling the lives of others takes time and energy; it also takes the focus off your own life. One of the litmus tests to discern my spiritual growth in letting go is to detect when traces of resentment and judgmentalism prevail in my heart rather than an appreciation of differences. Kierkegaard gave the name “despair of weakness” to refer to the despair of a person’s not daring “to be” what he or she is.  Tillich referred to it as “The Courage to Be.”  Taking the necessary time for reflection to engage the practices outlined above continues to be one of my greatest challenges and highest priorities. What might you add to the above list? This was adapted from chapter 8 of I Quit (Zondervan, 2010, by Geri Scazzero with Pete Scazzero).http://www.amazon.com/Quit-Stop-Pretending-Everything-Change/dp/0310321964/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284740555&sr=8-2

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