Scallywag

You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

~ George Burns ~

I Can’t Figure My Life Out

May 4th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 8 secs

Frankly, I can’t figure my life out at all.

Right behind me today, I overheard somebody say, “I can’t figure my life out.” Turning, I tried to see who she was. But she was gone. Lost in the crowd. Yet her words stay with me and keep rolling through my mind. Can you figure out your life? And what does figuring out mean anyway?

To me, the answer rests in meaning. If you asked me yesterday how I felt when I got caught speeding, had my teenage son spill over in a ranting spree, and missed my flight because of a massive traffic jam, I might have said I can’t figure my life out too.  When life spirals out of our control, it’s everything distressing that makes no sense. By contrast, everything that’s rich with meaning has a settling effect, bringing all sorts of experiences and events together. So was the woman saying, “I can’t figure my life out” unable to see meaning in her life? Or was she just going through a rough patch? How do we bring what is disjointed and confusing together anyway?

The reality is, life gets messy. There are plenty of things that make no sense at all.

You might be able to read something into the violence of an abusive husband or a random attack in the street. But I believe there are times when life deflects any attempt to figure it out.

Still, because there is so much senselessness, our need for meaning seems greater than ever. Saying, I can’t figure my life out suggests we want and need to overcome our uncertainties. To get back on a purposeful track, I believe we need to know personal purpose that puts meaning into our actions. Maybe not the actions of others, but our actions.

If you have an experience of faith then you can certainly rely on that. But whether you do or you don’t, we all need to have a clear sense of why:

  • We are okay regardless of what others say
  • Our worth has nothing to do with our looks
  • Our bank balance has no bearing on the riches of our spirit
  • Tragedy and disappointment are no match against the enduring qualities of compassion, wisdom, and courage.

Like the warning on some rear vision mirrors, things aren’t always as they appear. Mood can color events so much, the same circumstance can either leave us overwhelmed or jubilant. Fortunately, beneath our emotions, we’re made of surprisingly tough stuff. I believe that, when we’re pressed to our best, it’s remarkable just how resourceful we can be.

Declaring, I can’t figure my life out is an opener. Potentially, it confronts both the seeming randomness of events we don’t accept and also the discomfort of our doubts. That’s good (especially if it gets us searching for greater meaning). So, if you ever feel overwhelmed by senselessness, it’s actually a sign your guidance system is working perfectly. Use it to steer toward what does make sense, and live out your meaning with all the qualities you can muster.

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