“For Freedom Christ has Set us Free!” Galatians 5:1
Meaning and sometimes clarity:
Many times in our lives we are searching for something that will give us a sense of purpose and a reason to continue moving forward in this world. I think we overlook how important meaning and clarity is to our lives. Meaning is how we interpret what is happening to us, around us, in us, and in those that surround us. Meaning how we conclude and connect the dots, and figure out how it affects us on a deeper level than what has transpired on a surface level.
3 Ways meaning is impactful to our lives.
Meaning connects us.
Meaning connects us in ways where we do not necessarily fully understand unless we evaluate it. For example; when someone says an off comment about your weight, and even though you try to laugh it off, when you get home you feel emotionally off and depressed and start looking at all the skinny people on television that you feel you will never be able to look like. Before you know it, you have a couple of glasses of wine and you are calling an ex-boyfriend to see if he will come over.
When situations happen, it is up to us to figure out what does it mean to us. For the example above, The off-comment about your weight meant that you were undesirable and unattractive. The meaning then caused a behavior to reinforce the negative emotion of feeling undesirable by connecting with someone that once thought of you as desirable. One comment and you attach multi-layered meaning to yourself and how you view how other people perceive you.
The off comment has given meaning to how you view your body. It defined you, explained how others look at you, and you reaffirmed it by believing in someone else’s definition of you whether right or wrong. Whether you consciously or unconsciously knew it at the time, your mind began to make connections according to the meaning you have now accepted. The comment made you connect to a thought about how you view yourself and how others view you, then you gave permission for your body to feel ashamed, embarrassed, and depressed. Afterward, you gave permission to your behaviors to fix how you were feeling by calling someone to help you feel better about yourself.
Behaviors are connected to feelings, and feelings are connected to thoughts, and thoughts are connected to the meaning we give the events we experience. So it is imperative that we allow the power of Jesus Christ to free us from emotional strongholds that are intertwined without behaviors.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Meaning is impactful through the power of definition.
Meaning in a broad sense is a definition that describes truth or reality. Descriptions and definitions are never final, however, certain events in our lives entice us to believe that current definitions are lifelong. I will never forget the day when I was having a very difficult time in school and I had a nervous breakdown right in front of a dormitory. I remember how embarrassing it was, especially after it was over. Students thought I was crazy and I had some serious mental issues. How the student’s described that moment and what it meant to them to see me in that position, didn’t have to be my definition of that same exact moment. It was a moment in my life that I understood that in order to get through that trial, I had to make sure I understood first the meaning of that event, and understand HOW GOD defines me and not everyone else.
Meaning provides direction
Meaning provides direction because you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know how to describe your destination. Every event your life, you will have to focus on what does it mean. Every disappointment, every failure, every setback, every obstacle, every success,…everything! You have to search for the meaning the events in your life to help paint to the picture of where you are going. Every failure doesn’t mean you hit a roadblock or a dead end. More importantly, failure will describe to you where you are headed when you understand the reality of what you failed at, and why you failed. For example, Thomas Edison didn’t fail at creating the lightbulb one thousand times, he found a thousand ways how not to create a lightbulb. Each failed attempt showed him how not to do something, and how not to end up at the end of his destination at creating the first light bulb. Failure is a learning experience on how to get redirected to the path that God has given you, failure is not the end of the story!
Many times we ascribe unworthiness, shame, an embarrassment to failure when that shouldn’t be the case. What we ascribe meaning to and how we ascribe meaning to the events in our lives determine our outcomes. Failure is not determining factor of your life, the meaning you ascribed to that failure is. How you ascribe meaning will ultimately pave your pathway and how you walk your journey.
“Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed!” John 8:36
Meaning, reasoning, and bad mindsets.
How we reason and make sense of the world around us and how that determines what we believe about ourselves and about others is the framework of meaning. Someone lies to us and we ascribe meaning to ourselves that we are stupid enough to believe the lies. Someone cheats on us, and we ascribe meaning to ourselves that we are weak. Even though those instances may not have any validity or truth to it, how we reason and come to believe is how we ascribe meaning, definition, perspective, and a definition of what is going on. Clarity is central to how we come to reason. Is our first evaluation of the situation true and authentic to reality, or is irrational and extreme? Is our meaning based on how God views the situation, or is it based on human wisdom and a flawed perspective?
Clarity is more than just nonchalantly giving it to God without understanding, but rather, clarity is seeking the highest true form of understanding so that you are able to ascribe the proper meaning to the event that has happened. Your parents are divorcing, doesn’t mean they are divorcing because you were a bad child and it is your fault. Your spouse leaving you doesn’t have to mean that you were an awful spouse. Surviving a molestation event in your life doesn’t mean you were deserving of that event and/or you are a weak individual. When bad things happen, it means just that, a bad scenario took place. You do not have to absorb a bad situation and internalize as deserving because you are a bad person. God is setting us free from faulty mindsets that have caused us to look at our identities in Christ in an erroneous manner.
By C.J. Greene