In a 2017 Ted Talk, Emily Asfahani Smith says, “There is more to life than being happy.” This hardly seems possible. From the day we are born, the idea of happiness is crammed down our throats. However, Asfahani Smith believes she has identified four pillars to establish meaning in our lives. The first pillar, is a sense of belonging to a community, family, culture, or maybe a club. Our lives will be more rewarding, if we find a place where we belong. This idea affirms the importance of establishing a people group in which we can share life. When we belong, we have a safe place to share our joys, burdens, and concerns. The second pillar, is serving others. Yes, the poor might need our help but our hearts need it more. Find ways to to use your gifts, strengths, and talents to make a positive impact in the lives of others. The third pillar, is the ability to enter a transcendent state of mental focus and engagement. For athletes, this state is often referred to as the zone. While in the zone, your stresses, anxieties, and burdens begin to fall away. Your body and mind are in rhythm; you become completely focused on the task at hand. Before Michael Phelps jumps in the pool at an international competition, I feel certain he is not thinking about the speeding ticket he received last week. Instead, Phelps becomes totally focused on cutting through the water as fast as humanly possible. Not all of us can be gifted professional athletes, but we must find the place where we are able to reach our transcendent state. This state can be found in reading, writing, singing, or playing an instrument. The final pillar outlined by Esfehani Smith is storytelling. Often we do not consider the story we are telling about ourselves. To increase the meaning in our lives, we must write a positive story for our lives. When we write a negative story, we will begin to believe the world is working against us. Yes, said things happen but we have to write a better story to rise to the top.
In this sermon, I examine Queen Esther and make the argument that she is moving towards purpose in her life. She has found a sense of belonging among the Israelites. Her cousin Mordecai, presents her with an opportunity to serve her people. We do not know if Esther found her transcendent state, but she was blessed with the opportunity to save her people from death and destruction. Finally, author of Esther shares a story of triumph not a story of sadness and defeat.
This week I encourage you to pursue meaning.