Live Well

The point is not to just get by.  We want to live well.  (1 Corinthians 10:23 MSG)
What does it mean to “live well?”  Some say it means to be successful or to have your lifelong dreams realized.  Some say it’s when “I’m living my best life!”  Others say it’s when they have everything on their checklist taken care of.  When life is balanced.  When nothing bad is happening.  When I FEEL well.

Most of the time, the idea of “living well” means “doing more.”  So, we create more lists.  We take on more activities.  We say “yes” and “of course” and “why not” because if we don’t say “yes” then we must be a terrible person.  We get busier and life goes faster and then, we blink, and the month of June is over when we feel like only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the faster time seems to fly by.

As I have spent the last few weeks meditating on this verse and these words, I’ve concluded that to live well has nothing to do with my efforts or my productivity.  I can spend all the hours and check all the boxes and take on all the responsibilities and drink all the coffee to keep all of me awake because of all the hours I spent lying in bed last night thinking about all the things I need to do tomorrow.  For some reason, I have equated the word “well” with “more” or “all.”
And I think I’m doing it wrong.

I’ve intentionally spent the last few weeks off the grid.  I took days off work.  I went back home to California where I hiked a mountain.  I got a tattoo.  I deleted Facebook and Instagram for a week.  I stopped trying to have the perfect response, and I just listened.  I turned off my phone. I turned off my computer.  I spent time with people who reminded me who Jesus created me to be.  I forgave people who have hurt me and asked for forgiveness from friends I have hurt.  I took chances.  I laughed.  I laughed a lot.

I did things that bring me closer to Jesus.  I let go of stuff that had been hurting me.  I surrendered my need to understand things that are outside of my brain capacity as a human.  I took time to celebrate how far God has brought me.  I asked for bravery in the places where I have been paralyzed by fear.  I worshipped even though I was hurt.  I painfully admitted to myself and to God that I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

And something amazing happened.  My schedule didn’t get any less hectic.  I still had 2 jobs.  I was still working over 40 hours a week.  Still not getting a full 8 hours of sleep.  Still had people asking for more than I had to give.  Still had a million thoughts in my brain and a thousand things on my to-do list.  

But my anxiety decreased dramatically.  I was able to focus.  I could show up somewhere and be ALL there.  Not just physically there.  But mentally and emotionally and spiritually.  I could be ALL in when someone asked me for help.  I even found joy in going grocery shopping, my least favorite chore.  I saw Jesus everywhere. He had heard me and was responding.  He was answering all those questions I had been asking.  Only this time, I was listening.  I was ready.  I was looking for Him, and He was making Himself easy to find.

1 Corinthians 10:23 (MSG): The point of life is not just to get by.  The point is to live well.  The NIV translation says, “I have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial.”
See, friends, I think that to live well has nothing to do with doing more or having it all.

Living well starts with the soul.
To live well means living from the inside out.
To live well means rearranging your priorities so that Jesus can take his rightful place as the best and most important thing that has ever happened to you.
To live well means getting rid of the stuff that weighs you down or keeps you from moving forward, whether it’s the clothes in your closet or the anger in your heart.
To live well means getting outside of your own four walls and asking what you can GIVE instead of what you can GET.
To live well means looking around at your house, your car, your spouse, your children, your job, and being aware that you already have what someone else’s heart is aching for.
To live well means staring chaos in the face and feeling relieved because you remember that you don’t have to be the one in the driver’s seat.
To live well means enduring tragedy and finding your comfort in a God who never wastes a wound and has bigger plans than you could ever imagine.

It’s staying close when you want to push away.
It’s getting out of bed when everyday feels like failure.
It’s holding on to a God who is everything He says He is,  even if you are just holding on by your fingertips.

Don’t waste another minute of this already-fleeting life focused on something that doesn’t matter and won’t matter at the end of your life.  Don’t be afraid to have hope when hope seems silly. Don’t fill your heart with negativity.  Don’t get caught up in chaos.
But don’t waste your wounds either.  Let God use your pain, your fear, your loneliness, and your mistakes to change the world around you and help someone who needs to know they’re not alone in this life.  Let God make something beautiful out of your dust.  Otherwise, what is it all for?

Friends, it’s my hope and prayer that this summer, this week, this moment, we start living well. Let’s love Jesus well.  Let’s love people well.  And let’s love this life well.

Meet Marissa Matheny

Marissa works as the Director of Youth Ministries at Hillcrest Church, where she gets to hang out with the most amazing 6th-12th graders every week!  She can be seen playing the guitar, keys, or box drum on Sunday mornings during worship, as well as awkwardly dancing towards the muffin table during mingle.  She spends most of her time starting food fights, laughing at her own jokes, talking about Harry Potter, and reminding Amber that Drake used to be on Degrassi.  Mostly, she finds Jesus to be irresistible and
wants to be just like Him when she grows up.

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