What is the Quality of Your Life?Aug 02, 2023
Blog by Gem Fadling
During the first few months of this year I was in a season of “reset.” Prior to that I had been rumbling along at an accelerated speed, and I came to realize it was too much for me. My body and soul spoke loudly at the same time and said, “Enough!”
Awhile back I shared with my spiritual director about this reset and how I feel a big shift occurring in this, my fifty-ninth year of life. The big 6-0 is looming ahead of me in early 2024, and it’s giving me pause.
I still feel young and vibrant inside, and I know that age is just a number. And yet there is no doubt about it—I will be entering the final third of my life.
I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic about this. It’s good to pause in big life-shift seasons. Over the course of my life I’ve spent a lot of time looking back, reflecting, and turning those reflections into discernment and then hope. This is a wonderful practice that I highly recommend.
But my spiritual director asked me a question about the future:
What is quality of life you want in your sixties?
Without hesitating, four words came to mind. These are the qualities of life I desire in my next season:
Let’s unpack what I mean by each of these words and what I hope and pray God will do in and through me.
I’ve come to learn that true freedom is not doing whatever I want, whenever I want. That’s actually a kind of slavery. It has no healthy boundaries. The kind of freedom I’m talking about is the freedom to choose good. The freedom to be released from other people’s perceptions, expectations, and opinions. The freedom to rise above my own unhealthy patterns. The freedom to fill up to overflowing so that the fruit of the Spirit is expressed in my life.
All of my apprenticeship to Jesus, spiritual formation, and therapy have brought healing and opened new doors for me. Will I walk in the freedom that exists in the Kingdom of God? This is the real question. And my answer is a resounding “Yes!”
The desire to engage in a meaningful existence is at the heart of most people, and this really comes to the forefront as we age. I want to be a part of meaningful work. I desire the love of God within me to express itself in ways that make a difference. A spiritually formed life isn’t focused on itself but looks outward. Contemplation and action are inseparable siblings. I can derive meaning within my experience of God as well as in how I serve others.
This one is no surprise coming from someone who heads an organization called Unhurried Living. Whatever it is that I engage, whether my inner or outer life, I want to do it from an unhurried heart. This means I must rest in all the ways that make that possible. Sleep. Sabbath days. Family. Play. Friendship. Solitude and silence. A sustainable pace. Rest comes in many forms, and I intend to live and lead from a rested center.
In John 15:16a Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last . . .”
This is the kind of fruitfulness I long for. Fruit that will last. And I am convinced this fruit emerges from the Spirit within—which means that I step out of the way as often as possible. I cooperate more than I instigate. The more I rely on God and God’s movements within me, and the more I allow all of this to be expressed in my life, the more fruitful I am. This is the organic way of abiding. Jesus is the vine. I am the branch. My job is to remain. Fruit only emerges on the branch if it stays attached to the vine.
All of this musing on the final third of life brings to mind 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Inwardly we are being renewed day by day. How will we cooperate with that reality? What freedom, meaning, rest, and fruitfulness will emerge from this renewal? These are great questions to hold as we allow them to become prayers. Listen for how God might bring forth goodness from these requests.
- Ask yourself the same question my spiritual director asked me: What is the quality of life you want in your next decade?
- Take time to make a brief list, and then make it your intention to lean into the ramifications of this desire.