According to Dr. Caroline Leaf a meaningful life is happy one. Humans want to know that their lives are making a difference. Happiness, she declares, precedes success; it is not derived from success. And so I wonder how I can have a meaningful life.
I notice that when people appreciate my writing I experience a sense of fulfillment. When others are influenced by my ideas I feel confident. When my family feels content at home or friends feel welcome it gives me purpose. But these alone are not enough to give meaning to my life. Making them the sole focus of my time and energy will only lead to burnout and disappointment despite how noble such priorities may seem.
2 Peter chapter 1 describes the qualities that must be present in a Christian life: with diligence apply to my faith moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. If they are present then my life will be “neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Meaning in life doesn’t come from my plans coming to fruition but from God’s will being accomplished in my life.
Psalm 139:1-6 capture the essence of the fulfilled life, the life that is formed, seen and known by the Almighty God:
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O Lord.
You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
How would you define a fulfilled life? Is it yours?