Years ago, my first church assignment was to a tiny congregation in western Colorado. One of my parishioners was a woman who had relocated to our village from a metropolitan area. She had been employed in a high-profile, demanding job, but chose to leave it and move east with her husband to pursue her dream of opening a small bistro.

“For years, I made my living as an urban planner,” Maura would say, “but I feel most alive when I’m cooking.”

So Maura and her husband opened this bistro and they made a go of it. I don’t think they got rich, but they always seemed happy.

Once, I asked Maura what she had learned from her pursuit of a new vocation more in line with her dreams. She said that she’d learned two things.

One was that all the projects connected to her prior job — which she thought were utterly dependent on her for their success and well-being — all went right on without her.

She said, “Leaving my city job was like pulling my arm out of a bucket of water. Others filled in right behind me and life went on.”

So important lesson No. 1 was that she wasn’t nearly as indispensable as she had thought, and had she known that, she could have taken more time for renewal than she had allowed.

Secondly, her move confirmed that her relationships were really what mattered most. To live more deeply connected to God, to her own best self, and to her spouse was a great place to be in life, and more valuable to her than the bigger paycheck she had garnered in a job she liked less.

Few of us are in a position to make that sort of dramatic career move. But most of us can benefit from the reminder that we are more than cogs in a machine. Summer is a good time to remember that life is made for living, and that it was none other than Jesus himself who reminded his followers that he had come to give them life in abundance.

I hope you find some time while summer is still here to reflect on the commitments, relationships, and values you want to shape the next chapter in your life — and that they lead you to live abundantly in the things that matter most.

Vaughn Hoffman is senior minister, Wesley United Methodist Church, Bloomington. He can be reached at vhoffman@wesley-umc.com.

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