When making hard decisions, I like to consider which option yields the bigger life—which option ultimately brings greater happiness. I first learned about this concept from one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin. The bigger life for me is most often centered around connection, creating, and being the hands and feet of Jesus.
- Choose connection
Connection, not isolation, always yields the bigger life.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Staying in is the new going out.” Or this one: “Because it doesn’t get better than staying home.” Or this: “Saturday night out…just kidding, I’m in my PJs.”
I, too, have joined the masses in the glorification of staying home. I’ve said these things; I’ve shared the memes.
If you haven’t noticed, introversion is at an all-time high. Thanks to the internet, I don’t have to go out much. I have an entire city inside my home, full of people eager to interact with on the social channels, virtual shopping malls accepting my credit cards, and library apps where I can download books in seconds. I can be entertained for days without much connection, but soon isolation sets in.
Blessings come from being with people of like faith. Ask Ruth. Ask Naomi. They traveled far to find connection. They could no longer live in isolation away from the people of God. Consider the blessings that ensued in their lives and the shout out in the gospel of Matthew.
How I am finding the bigger life through connection: I attend conferences and single’s gatherings—a Caribbean cruise was among my favorite single’s events. I go on mission’s trips whenever possible. My ministry in Scotland and Spain hold precious memories for me. On a smaller scale, I choose connection over isolation by being with friends and family regularly.
I’ll be straight: creating is hard work, but I love having created something. Creating takes a lot of brain power, but what I’ve found most often, creating is about consistency and showing up to your work. So, write that story. Write that song—this charge went out at NAYC. Study Spoken Word poetry, then perform it at your church, in a youth class, at a nursing home. Here’s the thing: your creativity looks different from mine, much different than I can imagine for you on this page. I know this: God is calling you to be like Him, even in His creativity. He created entire worlds out of nothing. So, go create something out of nothing and you, too, will reap the benefits and blessings.
How I am finding the bigger life through creating: I write. See, Jesus stands at my door and knocks. I open the door and inspiration enters the room. It is for this reason that I sit daily at the keyboard with my word processor open and my hands on the keyboard. I’ve learned that if I show up to my creativity, God blesses me in turn.
- Be God’s hands and feet
When I think of being God’s hands and feet, I think of Matthew 25:43: “I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.” If you lack ideas, start here with this Scripture. Or start a class and teach from your unique experiences. If you lack ideas, talk with your pastor. He might be praying for someone for a specific ministry. Maybe you are that person he/she is praying for. Whatever we can do as the body of Christ to tap into the idea of “greater works than these will [you] do,”—that’s the thing we should do. (See John 14:12.) Pray and ask God how you can make a difference in the Kingdom.
How I am finding the bigger life through being God’s hands and feet: I teach a divorce recovery class at my church. I have found that helping someone else along their journey to find freedom is a happiness booster for me.
And that’s it—three ideas for making better decisions and creating a happier life. Decisions become easier when we consider the bigger life. For me, the bigger life inevitably centers around ministry.
May God bless you in your endeavors of choosing the bigger life.
Paula Nilsen is an advocate for abundant living. She is a certified life coach, equipping people to deal with loss and overcome adversity. She is a blogger and author of “Hello New Life: A Christian Guide for Finding Hope, Healing and Happiness after Divorce.” Her grown children are her ballasts and the loves of her life.