The Flourishing Life
Recently I picked up a book with an appealing title: ‘Flourishing” – How to achieve a deeper sense of well being, meaning and purpose – even when facing adversity. It was written by an academic and clinical psychologist. Some of her sharings were fascinating. She mentions that the magic ratio of 5:1 positives to negatives was required in order to lead a flourishing life. Also that couples who have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions are blessed to have flourishing marriages. Interesting.
We’ve just spent a flourishing kind of week. My beautiful, lovable, bubbly American niece spent a few happy days with us. We showed her some of the sights of Adelaide and enjoyed ourselves immensely in the process. Allison brought with her, her sense of irrepressible humour, her excitement at being alive, her enjoyment of the present moment, her infectious laughter. It’s been awhile since I've laughed so much.
I loved Allison’s knack of finding enjoyment in everything and everyone. She was a tease – but it was all in good fun. Allison’s stories were absorbing. She asked us numerous questions so it was not all one sided. I found it really funny how she posed for photographs – each time with a different twirl or dance. In fact, I’m now surprised when I come across a picture where she isn’t doing something strange or outlandish.
Allison certainly flourishes where-ever she is. We too have been flourishing thanks to her presence. Allison’s flight out of Adelaide was at 6 a.m. on Friday morning. I awoke at 3 a.m. to pack her a breakfast and to wave her off. After she left for the airport with Shan, I settled back in bed with a book before I went to sleep - ‘Virtue Reborn’ by Tom Wright.
Tom Wright shares the importance of character growth for us Christians and how character transformation can be brought about. He mentions that 350 years before Jesus, Aristotle had developed a 3 fold pattern of character transformation, the goal being to develop into a mature human being. The word Aristotle had used to describe the making of a complete, rounded, wise, thoroughly formed character had been ‘eudaimonia’, which is often interpreted as happiness. But Tom Wright says it is actually closer to our idea of ‘flourishing’. So there it was again - the word ‘flourishing’. It was with happy surprise that I read the word.
The picture that the word 'flourishing' conjures up in my mind’s eye is one of a lofty tree; striking, luxuriant; its roots going deep; its leaves green; its branches heavy with fruit. The Bible often uses similar metaphors. Isaiah 61 verse 3 presents an attractive image of those who follow Jesus.
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61: 3
How then do we flourish? Here are a few ideas:
Delight in God
Trust Him implicitly
Dig deep into His Word
Seek to grow in character
Be led by the Spirit. Live in the moment
Engage in meaningful work
Find meaning in adversity
Love. Bless His world
Let Gratitude flow
Despite the complexity of life, despite the thorny paths we often tread, despite the ruggedness of the terrain – living a flourishing life is not as difficult as it sounds. I must seek to stay on course; God’s will as my own; God Himself my compass; God my resting place; God my shelter; God my strong tower; and God also my goal. A quote from Oswald Chambers puts it into context.
"The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him."
Yes, flourishing begins with my delighting in Him.
Would you like to flourish? His Word points us in the right direction:
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7, 8
And there's more.......
Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1, 3