We joke about living our best life, but don’t we all really want to? It’s more than being able to afford that guacamole upcharge. It’s more than dancing like life’s a broadway musical. Living our best life is living out and embracing what God has gifted us. I talk about this a lot when I share about Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, but as believers, Jesus’ death on the cross not only made the way for an eternity with God but a life on earth with Him too.
It doesn’t mean a perfect life or one untouched by hardships but it does mean living a full, abundant life that God made possible (John 10:10)!
Here are 8 tips for living your best life. I included a few questions with each to help you dig deeper!
1. Stop naming spirit animals.
We joke about this idea of a spirit animal. To us, it means someone we identify with but here’s what old trusty Wikipedia says is the true definition of a spirit animal.
Power animal, a shamanic belief of a spirit which guides, helps or protects individuals, lineages and nations. Spirit guide, a spiritualist entity that remains a spirit to act as a guide or protector to a living incarnated human being. Totem animals, animals revered as sacred or possessing supernatural powers.
Uhhhh…that’s not what I had in mind either?? I have a feeling you’re thinking the same thing!! But I think it’s actually really easy for us to twist up an admiration for someone into idolizing them. I think it’s easy to get really inspired by someone and at the same time, feel paralyzed because we’ve dehumanized them and made them “a spirit animal” instead of a person who’s just trying to live their best life.
I have MAAAAAD respect for Joanna Gaines. I think she is squeezing out every last drop of talent that God has given her and living her life well. But when I cross into a zone of thinking she (or any other woman I respect) is superhuman, I limit myself. I don’t know Joanna personally, but the way she lives her life and the products and content she puts out there, let me know she wants you to live your best life too, not just be fascinated by hers.
2020 Yearly Prayer Journal
FIND FOCUS. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS. EXPERIENCE GOD.
No more waiting! It's in the shop now!
Am I idolizing anyone or coveting their life? How can I admire someone’s life but separate it from God’s plan for my life?
2. Ask for God’s opinion before asking for the world’s.
On that note, living our best life happens when we are following God’s plan for us instead of trying to replicate God’s plan for someone else. Lately, I have shied away from answering questions like “How’d you grow your business?” “How’d you get a contract?” “How did you sell a business and start another one?” Not because I don’t want to be helpful, but because I don’t think knowing my exact path will help and may actually distract them from their own.
Of course, I have some really practical tips on things like that, but I don’t believe anyone could follow my path and get the same results, the same way I couldn’t follow someone’s path and get the same results. Will God deliver a shiny email with 5 how-to’s like a human would? I’m 99.9% sure no.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek guidance but if we are going to God first, I think we better filter someone else’s advice through what God is calling us to do. You’ve heard the saying, we’re safest in God’s hands. Even if it feels scary, if we are following God’s will for our lives, it will be infinitely better than ignoring His plan for our own.
How do I start embracing God’s plan for my own life? Or do I even believe God has a beautiful plan for me?
3. Dig deeper before you unfollow.
This might seem really odd, but comparison is more than a buzzword in our time and it’s affecting how we live our best life. Maybe idolizing isn’t the issue, but it’s a struggle to follow anyone who has the job you want, the home you want, the family you want. Just unfollowing all those people who are “making us feel bad” is not the answer. I remember hearing this one day and feeling like it was so counter-culture to everything we hear about how unfollowing will solve the problem. Sure, to unfollow may be part of the solution but it solves the problem by just making us feel better about ourselves until someone else comes along instead of allowing this to be a place God can transform us. If this is a heart issue, chopping off the weed might look better but if we don’t get the root, it will keep coming back. So how do we dig deeper? We have to ask questions.
WHY does this make me feel this way? What lie am I believing that I need to replace with truth so that it doesn’t lead to envy?
4. Give God some breathing room.
Our world is busy and noisy and if we give God room to speak, it’s on average… like half a second. Ok, not a real stat but I’d say for me that can be pretty accurate some days. And, then, if He doesn’t respond in that time, we blame Him for being distant. We question whether He’s real or whether He cares. Let’s clarify, Jesus’ death on the cross, when I really remember it actually happened, should be all the proof we need of how much He cares.
I’ve been struggling lately with my prayer time and Bible reading just unable to focus well, but I had a breakthrough the other day. What wise discipline did I do?
I sat on my stoop.
I watched the sun go down.
I noticed the birds.
I noticed my neighbors who are facing a terminal diagnosis and prayed for them. It sparked more prayers I never would have lifted up had I not given God room. And God spoke! And y’all, I spent 90 minutes sitting there, resisting the urge (seriously, by the grace of God) to read one of three books I had outside with me. This is not my norm and it wasn’t the usual 15 minutes I can generously give God on a good day but I sure want it reminded me that what I’m looking for, a personal relationship with the Lord is possible when I slow down and actually give God my undivided attention.
What does it look like to give God some breathing room in your day? Like you aren’t rushing Him to hurry up with His point but expectant and attentive, hanging on His every word?
What if God is already telling you specifics on how to live your best life and you just aren’t choosing it? What if fear is holding you back? What if it’s laziness or a lack of faith? What if it’s insecurity or assuming someone else could do it better? Living your best life is going to require YOU to step and move and follow.
There are two stories in the New Testament that put a fire in me to obey.
The disciples: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” – Matthew 4:19-20
They got to experience life with Jesus on earth, witness miracle after miracle, start more than just a movement. It wasn’t easy but gracious, it was their best life. Better than turning around and saying “sorry sir, I’ve got fish to catch.”
Then there’s the story of the rich young ruler.
‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. – Matthew 10:21-22
He held on to his stuff. The Bible doesn’t tell the rest of the story but he went away sad but he had his stuff. I don’t think that was his best life.
Obedience is the key.
Has the Lord called me to anything that I haven’t obeyed? Have I misled myself to believe that anyone who seems to be living their best life fell into? Or do I fully understand that it required obedience and my best life will to?
6. Take you out of the center.
Friends, I’m completely guilty of this, it’s embarrassing. I’m an analyzer and I can analyze a situation to death. I attempt to dissect why I’m sad or anxious and the reality is, I’m keeping the focus on me. The other day I was feeling depressed and my husband told me to go out and do something for someone else. (Ok, this is what my fragile heart heard him say.) It seemed sooo disconnected and even too practical, but he was right (shh! Don’t tell him I said that! 😉 ) I needed to stop thinking about it and set my heart on someone else. I tell this to Vivi all the time and can see how she sinks further and further into sad moments when she can’t stop thinking about herself. And I’m not just talking about whether we’re trying to find joy or peace when we feel depressed or anxious.
In Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, I talk about how we could spend more of life less-offended if we didn’t insert ourselves into things we don’t need to insert ourselves into. That comment a friend made about moms that we take as a personal attack, that tragic news story we somehow make about us, the party we host and spend the whole time concerned about our stained couches instead of the people sitting on them? The world is so big. Even the things God is doing in your life are bigger than you. That’s not to steal from how God cares and sees each of us individually but to remind us that the world is bigger than just me. My best life is not lived focused on my own self 24/7.
What am I putting myself at the center of that I need to remove myself from? How can I get a bird’s eye view and see my world bigger?
7. Ask God to bless you.
This one may feel contradictory to #6 but it’s not. You can pray for yourself without making yourself the center of every aspect of your life.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. – 1 Chronicles 4:10
Short and sweet. Dr. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a short little book on that passage called The Prayer of Jabez. Remember that one?? People either loved it, or hated it. This book not only changed my life, it has changed my days.
He starts his prayer off asking that God would bless him. Seems kind of selfish, but Wilkinson made two incredible points that have stuck with me:
- He gave an analogy that starts in a room full of file cabinets. The man opens the one with his name and the drawer keeps opening and opening. When he looks at the cards, he’s told these were blessings he missed out on because he never asked. God is a generous God. He wants to bless us. When we come to Him, we are acknowledging His power and ability to provide for us.
- Jabez’s motives are pure. He wants blessings so that he can glorify God in the process. The line “enlarge my territory” basically means expand my influence. He’s praying for God to give him resources (or blessings) so that He can use it for God’s kingdom.
- I’ve learned this one through years of ending my prayer time with some version of “bless me Lord and expand my territory.” If we are anticipating God to work, we SEE better the things He does every day that maybe we’ve missed.
This isn’t hocus pocus or a magic spell. God doesn’t work like that. And I’m not a theologian. Just sharing my heart. God has blessed me incredibly beyond what I feel I deserve and I feel it’s at least partly due to me asking Him for it and offering it back to him AND opening my eyes to see what He’s been doing all along!
Am I afraid to pray for God to bless me? Does it feel selfish? How can I open my eyes to see God’s blessing in my life?
8. Live for eternity.
If you are discouraged and thinking “there has to be more than this”, you are right. There is!! There has to be! The perfect job, the pristine house, none of it can satisfy us like God can. There is a life to come that we can only imagine. My sister wrote a wonderful Bible study on eternity. Find it here.
Matthew 6:33 says “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Dallas Willard said “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity.”
Ironically, the best way to live our best life is to live it for the next one.
Do I think about eternity? How does that affect how I live each day and view the trials and joys found here? What does it look like to live my best life in light of eternity?
We ended on a real serious note but share in the comments any practical ways you live your best life!