The center is what holds, feeds, supports, and defines the circle.
What do you choose to put in the center of the circle of your life?
– Reverend Craig Barnes
This past summer at Chautauqua, I had the privilege of hearing Reverend Craig Barnes speak several times. The president of Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. Barnes is an engaging storyteller, a deep thinker, and a compelling preacher. He is a master at using his dry yet extremely intelligent sense of humor to open your heart and mind. And then comes the zinger – a statement or question that cuts right to the core.
It was in one of those powerful moments that he said the words that open this article. And those words have been with me ever since.
“The center is what holds, feeds, supports, and defines the circle. What do you choose to put in the center?” When I first considered the question, I thought of the many circles in my life. There is the circle of my Transformational Presence work, the circle of my home life, the circle of my birth family, the circle of my friends, the circle of my beliefs, and I can go on and on.
When I perceive my life as being made up of many circles, I notice that I go straight to my head to name them. In responding to Craig Barnes’ question, I look for “the right answer” – for the focus or belief or thought that should be at the center of each circle to make everything work in the best possible way. The whole inquiry becomes an intellectual pursuit.
If I’m honest with myself, when I view my life in this way, it’s exhausting and overwhelming. My life gets broken up into many pieces and it takes a lot of effort to keep them all fed and supported. It seems that only one or two can really flourish, and, truth be told, even those one or two can only flourish for so long before I burn out. I feel like a juggler trying to keep all of the balls in the air. As a part of the juggling, I end up putting different things in the centers of my different circles to provide what seems to be needed in the moment.
Yet Craig Barnes’ question is more specific. He actually asks, “What do you choose to put in the center of your life?” Of. My. Life. It’s easy to miss those last three words, yet for me, they were the words that got my attention.
When I add “of your life” to the question, everything changes. It causes me to consider, “What if my life is just one big circle?”
At first it feels limiting to have only one circle. I have so many interests; my life has so many facets. How can there be only one circle?
And then in an instant it all becomes crystal clear. What if everything in my life is really just about one thing? What if one circle could be big enough to hold all of the many aspects of my life? And what if the center of that circle was my soul mission, my life purpose? When there are many separate circles, I feel like I’m pulled in different directions. Yet when there is just one circle that not only encompasses, but actually embraces all of who I am and what I bring to the world… Wow.
Within a matter of seconds, the circle goes from being limiting to being limitless, and then to being enormously simple. Yes, enormously simple. There is just one circle to navigate. There is just one center that is holding, feeding, supporting, and defining the circle.
Yet then I drop in even deeper. You could say that everyone’s soul mission or life purpose is the same – to be a vehicle for the flow of Love. Love moves through each of us in a unique way, and that understanding is what helps us find the words to describe the particular way that Love flows through us. My soul mission is, “I liberate and empower.” That’s fundamentally who I am and what my life is about. And underneath that foundation is Love.
So what if I go for the big picture and choose for the center of my life to be Love? I’m not talking about a warm and fuzzy, feel-good, sentimental, sweetness and light love. I’m talking about Love as a force – the creative and sustaining force of everything. Love that challenges me to show up in my authentic power and strength and brings the best of me forward in every moment. Love that won’t let me sell myself short. Love that will not be satisfied with anything less than showing up in my authentic greatness. Love that will not accept anything less than living into my full potential.
When I choose for Love to be the center of the circle of my life, I experience a knowing somewhere deep in the core of my being that I am held and supported, no matter what is happening. And even when I have no idea how it’s all going to work (which is most of the time!), some part of me trusts that things are going to unfold in an extraordinary way.
The longer I sit with Craig Barnes’ question, the more I can’t imagine putting anything else in the center of my life. There is nothing else that I want to hold, feed, support, and define my life. It’s scary and it’s real and it’s exhilarating. Intuitively, I see an image of a man that is so aligned in his being that the energy explodes into focused and powerful action – action that can only be that potent because everything in his life is built around one single, all encompassing center. And I know from experience that when I align with the power of that center, doors open, pathways become clear, and people and resources show up. From there, my job is to stay focused on my center and say “yes” to what that alignment brings.
I won’t pretend to say that this is how I live in every moment. For me, choosing to put Love in the center of the circle of my life is, in fact, a life-long practice. So I keep practicing. I keep choosing Love. Except for when I forget. Yet when I forget, something always happens that reminds me to come back to Love as my center, and I remember to notice what I am learning and discovering.
It’s a journey. It’s helpful when I can be gentle with myself, yet firm at the same time; compassionate with myself for my learning process, yet diligent in my commitment to living into my greatest potential.
The center is what holds, feeds, supports, and defines the circle. What do you choose to put in the center of the circle of your life?
If you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful or inspiring, I invite you to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter by clicking here.