I had a conversation recently that had me surprising myself. I was sharing with a gentleman about some of the things going on in my life and even though I barely know him I laid out quite a bit of information that not many people know about me.
I think the reason for that conversation being so open is because the information we were talking about was important to me. I have noticed, over the last few years especially, that my passions drive me more than ever. I don’t want to sit and have small talk with a person. I want to get to what will make a difference. I want to work on what is important. “Let the meteorologists talk about the weather. I have things to do.”
I don’t know if it is because of my age. Now, being a 40 something, I am guessing my remaining biological experience is shorter than what I have had so far. I may live to be one hundred years old I don’t know. But if I had to venture a guess I would say it’s doubtful. Because of this I know that time matters more now than it used to. Even if I get another 40 I have less time every day to look forward to so I don’t want to waste it.
This mindset pushes me to work harder than I had in the past. I spend more time expanding my circle of influence, expanding myself and my understanding of life, and generally wanting to make a difference in this world. The problem with this mindset is that I sometimes forget in the process of life to actually live.
Meaning, I don’t spend as much time enjoying the people along the way. I don’t enjoy the experiences. Even when I sit down to rest, my mind is going a million miles an hour thinking about all of the things that I could or seemingly should be doing. My body may rest but my mind doesn’t, so even if I sit around all day I feel tired.
This can disconnect me from the people around me. My mental health is greatly affected by this. Connection is vital to my mental health. Even with knowing this, all too often I can be in a large group of people and be completely disengaged. You wouldn’t know it because I will still nod my head while someone is talking, I will still laugh at the joke, I will still offer up a phrase or two about the subject, but my mind is in a different place. I am missing what is right in front of me!
I believe that we all have a purpose. I believe God has something in store for each of us. And if someone is searching that out and driving to be the best that they can be for Christ then that is great! Awesome! Spectacular! I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty with this post. And I certainly don’t want anyone to come away from this with the idea that unless we are doing things Nate’s way we are not doing it right. In all actuality this post is more a letter to me. I need to remind myself that I cannot be so busy trying to be something or do something that I forget to focus on what is in front of me.
I have to ask myself the questions:
Am I talking to this person because God placed them in my life for some reason and I should try to figure that out? Or am I talking to someone because I want to try and get something done?
I am not saying that all of my conversations are going to be deep and meaningful. What I am trying to learn is that I need to make sure that I at least give my conversations, my interactions with the world around me, the chance to be meaningful. I don’t want to be so busy making a difference that I miss my opportunities to make a difference.
The biggest changes I have seen in me did not come from spectacular events. It was the little things that added up over time. It was in the little conversations, the passing comments, or the short interactions. My family won’t care if I change the face of mental health in the church forever if I didn’t take the time to connect with them along the way. I want to think that so far I have been good at doing just that. (Although I do need to call my parents more. Sorry Mom & Dad.) But there are times that I feel myself slipping that direction and that is something I don’t want to do.
I want to make sure to experience life. To live. To let my conversations be deep and open because that is a better way. Not because I want my way. If that means that weather is important to you, we should talk about the weather. I probably still won’t care as much about the weather, but I do care about the person who cares about the weather. My passions and goals are important, God gave them to me. But God gave me the people in my life as well. The people in my life need to be a passion for me. I want people who know me to say, “I am important to Nate.” I want them to know they are appreciated. I want them to know they are loved. I want them to know they matter.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery