- By Kristey Simmons
Thrive… what a power word. This word that carries a weight to it; but do we truly understand what it means? It looks different for everyone, but it means the same. To thrive is to prosper, to do well, to do what God has gifted and called us to do! Every so often, we should boldly ask ourselves, “am I thriving?” …and if we aren’t, what should we do about it?
A couple of years ago, I was finishing up my last year of graduate school, working three jobs, and was glued to my couch as soon as I walked through the door. I was restless, unsatisfied, and yearning for something to change but I didn’t know what or how. I had a friend ask me, “Kristey, do you feel like you are thriving in this season of life?” I defensively answered, “Of course I am! I am doing what the Lord has called me to do. I am being obedient!” But, later, I asked myself, “am I really thriving? Is this it?” …I was convinced that it couldn’t be.
I went through and asked myself some hard questions. “Am I satisfied with where my life is right now? Do I feel good about myself? Do I have hope for the future?” The answer to all those questions was a shocking…. “No.”
As human beings, we were made to THRIVE! We were made for a purpose. We were made for wholehearted living, being connected with community, feeling and being fully alive, and to overcome mindsets and attitudes that we have had thrusted upon us by others and set upon us by ourselves.
Wholehearted living is about knowing that regardless of what I do, what I accomplish, and how I feel, God sees me as worthy and He loves me. Brené Brown says it perfectly in her book called The Gifts of Imperfection, “Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
CONNECTED WITH COMMUNITY
Ezekiel 17:10 states, “Behold, though it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not completely wither as soon as the east wind strikes it – wither on the beds where it grew?”
We were made for community. We were never made to be alone, see Genesis 1! To be the best versions of ourselves, we should surround ourselves with like minded people that speak life and truth over us. They should encourage us to be better and to always be pursuing the heart of the Father – and we should do the same in return. If our circle makes us question who we are, makes us feel bad about ourselves, or instills fear in us… then we need to get a new circle.
In the season that I mentioned earlier, I was very disconnected. I was in graduate school, but I was one of those that came, went to class, and then left. I didn’t go out of my way to create community. I also was going to a church that was almost an hour away – so having consistent community with them was extremely difficult. The Lord posed a question to me, “are you willing to let this place go to allow me to give you something better?” It was one of the scariest moments of my life when I said, “yes.” It felt like leaving family. This is when I found New Life and was challenged to grow and connect in authentic community. It has given me new opportunities to grow deeper in my relationships, deeper in my faith, and seeing God be faithful in ways that I did not realize I needed Him to be.
Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “Today, I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now, I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life.”
We were never made to merely survive. We were made to live in freedom, in complete wholeness, and experience life in its fullness. I have had a few seasons of life when I felt like I was just surviving. I was just doing what I was told so I could make it through. But I have always found that in those seasons, I was never fully alive! I was complacent and lazy. I did what was necessary to get things done and check the tasks on my list. The Lord gives us passions that are meant to drive us; to help us live fully to the potential that He has made us for. So, I ask you… what are your God-given passions? What has He put deep inside of you that makes you feel alive every time you experience it?
OVERCOMING MINDSETS AND ATTITUDES
Romans 12:2 tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Out of all these points, I believe that this one is the most important. Over time and through our experiences, we adopt mindsets and attitudes that can both negatively and positively affect our lives. I have gone through some major changes over the last few years because of this very point. I was extremely overweight and was having some negative self-worth issues. I just always believed that I was going to be that way, so I never even tried to do anything about it. After I asked myself if I was letting this define me, it pushed me to change how I saw myself and how I treated myself. You see, in order to thrive, you must value yourself and who you are. And you must place your value in who’s you are.
It may seem easier to say and think than to truly follow through with. But, I challenge you. Ask yourself some hard questions. “Am I thriving? Am I living my life to the fullest potential that God has purposed me for? Am I giving it everything that I am?” Don’t become complacent and settle for a mediocre life. Step out of your comfort zone. Be bold. Be brave. THRIVE!
About the author: Kristey Simmons is a part of the Beloved and Worship Dream Teams at New Life Family Church. She is a transplant to Texas, originally from New York, and currently works at The King’s University. She is passionate about encouraging others to believe in themselves and to achieve all the things God has in store for them!