Do you have a mission driven life?
I remember earlier this year I went to an Aquarium in the L.A. area with the school that I work for. In this aquarium were fish, sea stars, sharks, turtles, crabs etc. But the most interesting creature there, to me, was the jellyfish.
The jellyfish was in a round and circular tank. Whereas, most of the other tanks were your typical rectangle shape. One of the students and I asked an Attending Researcher why the jellyfish tank was shaped different from the others, which was followed by several other questions by this student and me. Here is a brief summary of what we learned that day.
Jellyfish have no brain. In fact, the opening and closing of their bell is just an instinctive response to movement around them in order to increase its chances of finding food. They literally are at the mercy of the waves of the sea for where they travel. In captivity jellyfish are put in round aquariums because if kept in a regular boxy tank they will get trapped in one of the corners and die–rubbing its fragile tissue to the point of disintegration on the walls of the aquarium.
I walked away from this conversation with the researcher in contemplation about these brainless creatures. The jellyfish are basically dependent on the directions of the waves of the sea, and its only contribution to its own movement is merely an instinctive response. I just could not help but think of the parallels of the lives of these jellyfish and the way some people conduct their lives.
You and I have both met people who live their lives like these jellyfish. They are tossed to and fro by the emotional waves of a given situation, extremely dependent on external forces. They simply respond to their instinctive drives in an aimless direction. They need a “specialized aquarium” or their surroundings to be “happy.” And then they wonder why their lives feel so empty, depressed, and lacking content in their lives.
We as humans were meant and designed for so much more then living like jellyfish. WE are bigger than our problems AND we have a specific mission in life! Victor Frankl wrote in the afterwards
of the 1998 edition of Man Search for Meaning “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Steven Covey sees it the same way as Frankl and explained that our mission or “concrete assignment” is something that we uncover and discover rather then create.
Individuals that do not know or live true to their mission are tossed to and fro with any direction or whim of emotions. They do not know what to say yes to and what to say no to in order to fulfill their mission. They are more susceptible to filling their lives with stuff to cover the void. I wonder if more Americans are living this jellyfish life then we think. Many Americans of today are in large amounts of debt, overweight, and consume more anti-depressants when comparing them to previous generations.
Why? Because they have not exerted themselves to uncover their God-given purpose. Their lives are not congruent with what they were designed or meant to do. Only through striving to fill their specific assignment and mission will a person find meaning and purpose in life.
How do we find our purpose? Victor Frankl said in his book The Doctor and the Soul “In our opinion we have here an essential characteristic of the religious man: he is a man who interprets his existence not only in terms of being responsible for fulfilling his life tasks, but also as being responsible to the taskmaster.” Huh? We get our purpose from God? I guess it’s not surprising when we look at it like that. There are so many people that have jellyfish lives. It is because we are not just the most self-medicated and comfort food eating group of Americans; I would venture to say we are the most reluctant group of Americans to acknowledge God in our lives due to the desire to be politically correct. I will personally admit that I used to be reluctant, but now I am going say it simply and logically, what the next step to finding our mission? Ask God. What is your specific task–your mission? He will tell you, and it will be clear. In fact, He has already been trying to tell you, but you are most likely not in tune to hearing it or unwilling to hear it.
Once you have a mission driven life, it will become easier to decide what you are going to do and not do because your choices will get you closer to completing your tasks or further away. Also, you will have fulfillment and meaning in your life regardless of your circumstances because you know great things do not happen without discomfort and trials at times. You then become bigger then your problems. You face adversity from a position of strength because you know that God ONLY gives an assignment that he is willing to support and help you with. Because someone with a mission driven life does not want to go back to the meaningless life of a jellyfish.
A mission driven life is much the opposite of what Frankl wrote: “There is something particularly pitiable about the man whose faith in the meaningfulness of his own existence totters in a…crisis. He has been left without moral reserves. He lacks the spiritual fiber.” and as a result of lacking this spiritual fiber Frankl continued “…he is unable in difficult times to ‘take’ the blows of fate and to set his own strength against them. He is left morally unarmed and unarmored, prey to the full terror inherent in the concept of fate.” Much like the jellyfish. In conclusion: have a mission driven life and don’t be a jellyfish!