Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published May 8, 2004. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
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Fulfillment. No word, other than love, has been tossed around so much and has taken on as many perspectives as fulfillment.
What does it mean exactly?
The answer differs with every person.
Author Mary Morris has said, “Pursuing what you want to do and achieving your goal is not like finding the burning bush or discovering a gold mine. There are usually no epiphanies, no sudden reversals of fortune.
“Fulfillment comes in fits and starts. It comes in many guises, and it can come to us in our lives at any time. But only we can make sure we will be fulfilled. If we feel empty, no amount of water can fill our well. It has to come from within, from the underground springs and streams.”
I think she’s right.
Every career has its share of drudgery, and it’s hard to look for fulfillment in the day-to-day mainstream of life.
We have to look beyond the obvious and see meaning in some of the tasks we face.
However, I gained some real insight by asking a little friend of mine what she thinks fulfillment means.
“Feeling full,” she replied with a question mark in her voice.
Not a bad answer from an 8-year-old.
Feeling full of accomplishment. Feeling full of warmth and love. Feeling full of pride in a job well done.
That works for me.
I’m learning that fulfillment has to do more with perspective than with the task at hand.
If I regard something to be done as a meaningless chore, it will be. If I think beyond it and envision what it will mean for someone else, the task takes on Divine dimensions.
Doing the laundry will mean someone can settle down for a good night’s sleep on clean, fresh linens. Working a little harder to stay on task at work can mean more time with the family this evening. Giving up some free time to run an errand can make a big difference in someone else’s day.
Mary Morris is right. It isn’t the burning bush experience or the discovery of the gold mine that brings lasting fulfillment. It’s doing the ordinary, mundane chores as Brother Lawrence did by practicing the presence of God in every task.
The little things suddenly become opportunities to share love or to become a conduit for grace in someone else’s life.
But first, we have to be willing to spend in the process. Getting selfish motives out of the way so that something greater can be accomplished. That’s not easy for me, but I find when I allow it to happen, I find myself sinking into my pillow at night feeling very full — satisfied that I’ve spent the day investing my life instead of just using it up.