Part of what I believe I’m supposed to do is to spend some time thinking about life and then share whatever I come up with. And so I put myself into places where that happens…where I have others around me who are doing the same thing and encourage the process.
One of those places I’ve put myself is called Faithwalking. And one of the things talked about in Faithwalking is that we have a first formation. That formation happens mostly in our families. For some that is a good thing. For others not so good. All of us have had good things happen to us and all of us have had some bad things happen. We’ve all been handed down some “empty ways of life from our forefathers.” Either way there’s some good news.
The good news is there is a chance at a second formation. As we get older we can choose how we are going to be formed. We can learn some things about spirituality and we can find mentors in people and in books where authors help us understand ourselves and life.
I like to say it this way. Your first formation is descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words your first formation describes some things about you and maybe why you are how you are. My new friend Trisha Taylor says it’s “just how you be.” But your first formation is not prescriptive. It doesn’t mean you have to stay that way forever.
So if there are some things about “how you be” that you want to change then you can go about changing some things. You can write a better story, a different story, as Donald Miller says. Here are three steps to get you started writing a better story and go about a second formation:
Get a clear picture of what it is you want. I just read a great article about Daniel Norris, one of the top prospective pitchers for the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s 21 and received a $2 million signing bonus but lives in a 1978 Volkswagen camper. When he got his signing bonus he prayed “Please don’t let the money change me.” Read the link and you’ll read about someone who has a clear picture of what he wants, of who he wants to be.
That’s the problem for many. That picture has not become clear. But if you can figure out who you want to be and how you want to be around people and in this world, you can start writing your story. You can start the second formation.
Have the courage to overcome the conflict you’ll encounter. The conflict will come because where you are now is not where you want to be. In the middle part of the journey you will find tension from anxiety about change. You’ll need courage to face yourself. You’ll make promises that you won’t keep and you’ll need to grow in your integrity. And there’ll be skills you need to acquire along the way.
It’s not easy growing into the person you want to be. It’s a lifelong process that never ends. A friend of mine used to say, “Life is hard. And then you die.” We want life to be easy. But any good story has conflict to overcome. And any good life will too. So have courage.
Write chapters that will help you go get what it is you want (see step #1). Start doing the things you need to do to get what you want. Is there a conversation you need to have with someone? Have it. Is there a place you want to go? Make plans to go there. Get out of your comfort zone and live!
Before long your chapters will add up to a life. You’ll be writing a better story. And your second formation can be better than the first.
Question: Can you find some time to write out a clear picture of what it is you want?