A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Pressing On

Posted on: May 23, 2013

(B)ut one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14, Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition 

When I was still a student—and, being a list-maker and planner, again and again through the years—I set certain goals that I hoped to achieve by the age of 25, 30 or 40. Plans for my career, my poetry, even my fitness level. I focussed on the destination; the journey was something to endure rather than enjoy.

Now the big 4-0 is just a few months away (note the way I say “the big 4-0” the way some people spell out “v-e-t” so their pets don’t panic), I’ve been thinking about my successes and setbacks and definitely brooding a bit over the targets I missed. Something milestone birthdays tend to bring out in me. While thinking about new goals for the future, I’ve realized there are two important questions I haven’t always considered: What goals does God want me to pursue, and how does he want me to pursue them?

The scriptures tell us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9) and that we are to love one another (see Mark 12:29-31), seek justice and mercy (see Micah 6:8), and keep the faith (see 2 Timothy 4:7). Since we’re only human, our instincts won’t always set us on the right path; we need God to guide us and keep us there. And we need to pursue our goals in ways that are loving and respectful of others.

Knowing this, how do we then identify a goal worth pursuing? Here are a few suggestions from a lifelong list-maker and avid reader:

  • Make a list. Take inventory of our strengths, interests, achievements and experiences. I recommend something like the Listography Journal. The trip down memory lane is a nice bonus.
  • Read a book by someone who’s been there. Get advice on identifying changes to make and benefit from someone else’s experience. My suggestions: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson and (especially for youth) Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris.
  • Hit the books. Attend a workshop on identifying and using spiritual gifts or take an interest course through a school board, college or university, or public library. I took an interest course on blogging at Algonquin College before starting this blog.
  • Talk about it. Find a sounding board in a family member or trusted friend, spiritual director, or parish priest. My husband and a good friend I call Mom listen to my ideas, ask good questions and encourage me.
  • Pray to receive guidance and strength through the Holy Spirit. It’s easy to underestimate our ability to take on a challenge as well as the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to achieve a goal. But the book of Acts is a wonderful example of how the Spirit equips people to do great things for God.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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