Be > Do

Today I'm deciding to focus on who I want to be rather than just what I want to do. I've always had a hard time thinking of an answer when asked "what do you want to do with your life?" It seems like such a complicated, nuanced question, and I'm still not really sure what the answer is. But if I instead ask "what do I want to be?" I have the freedom to interpret the question a little bit differently. I'm pretty confident my career path will change as I get older, and I'm okay with that. As someone who graduated without an idea of what she wanted to do, that's actually kind of comforting. I can try different things out and see what works in different seasons. And it gives me the freedom to also try out different hobbies and roles in other places, like with my church.

But when it comes to who I want to be, the answer is not so easily changed. If I think about it, I know what kind of characteristics I want to embody. Now, I'm not for a second trying to say that I possess them already. I'm saying I know what my aim is.

For all the unknowns about what I want to do or how my future might turn out, there are some things I do know. And I found a list from Jordan at Feel Free to Laugh that fits really well with those things:

  1. BE KIND. You want to be attractive to other people? Don't be a jerk. Choose kindness, because it IS a choice. Not just sort of kind, and not fake kind. Be the for real, actual kind of KIND. Look for the best in others and then tell them what you see. Go out of your way to help someone in need, and do so without expecting anything in return. Speak words of life into those you meet. If you're someone who is genuinely nice to others, you will instantly be more attractive to them.

  2. BE JOYFUL. No one likes a Debbie Downer, you know what I'm saying? The Word says to be joyful in all things, yet we tend to poo-poo the idea as unrealistic and unachievable. The thing is, I've met the person who is joyful in all things. Joyful in health AND joyful in sickness. Joyful in plenty AND joyful in want. It's an actual THING, and it does exist! To be joyful doesn't mean to feel happy all the time, which is good news considering we ALL know we won't feel happy all the time. It's simply an underlying sense of hope and peace that comes from knowing that all things work together for good, and it is contagious. Solidify where your hope and peace rest, and then share it with others. Joy spreads like wildfire, and THAT is beautiful to see.

  3. BE GENEROUS. Hold everything you have with open hands, and loosely. I'm not just talking tangible things like money and possessions; I'm talking praise, platform, and power. Be generous at all times with the things entrusted to you, and don't join in the cutthroat competition. Share your finances when you feel led, and share your praise freely and often. Invite others into the things you're doing, and promote their unique gifts and abilities. Jealousy is hideous, but when others feel safe with and valued by you, they'll see you as someone whose beauty oozes from every pore.

  4. BE HONEST. Be a truth teller, both when it's easy and when it's not. Tell the truth with grace and compassion, but ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH. Be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, and never leave those around you wondering how you really feel. Transparency is breathtakingly attractive, and it paves the way for others to be transparent, too.

  5. BE UNEASILY OFFENDED. For the LOVE of Mother Teresa, stop taking yourself so seriously! Life's too short to be uptight, and the only one who suffers when you are too easily offended is YOU! Receive valid criticism well and graciously, and let everything else roll off your back. Keep short accounts and forgive often. Chances are good you've offended someone before too (that's right, I'm looking at YOU), so extend the grace you'd want to receive. Oversensitivity is not pretty, but thick-skinnedness is. Be thick-skinned.

  6. BE AVAILABLE. It's tough to carve out time for others in the crazy-hectic lives we lead. That said, we are a relational people, and as my mother always says, "People matter before projects." Be willing to set aside your valuable time to love another well. Be a listener. Be an encourager. Be a helper, be a safe place for the ones you love, and a safe place for the ones who are HARD to love. Draw boundaries, for sure, but be reachable and present. Others will know they can rely on you and you'll be beautiful to them for it.

  7. BE LOVE. Let love flow from the deepest parts of you in all you do and to all you meet. Love is the single most beautiful quality in heaven and on earth, and love is the only tool that builds an inroad to people's hearts. Love well, and love generously -- you'll never regret it. - Jordan Baker Watts

Those are the things I want to be. And they are far more important than whatever career path (or paths) I choose to pursue, what kind of car I buy, where I live, or what my family looks like. Those things are circumstantial, and I can't always control them. But I can pour energy into becoming the best possible version of myself, regardless of my situation.

Will you join me in focusing on what you can be rather than on what you can do?


Further reading:

HOW TO BE BEAUTIFUL (A Step-By-Step Guide) by Jordan Baker Watts, Feel Free to Laugh