Optimization refers to choosing the best element from a set of available alternatives. It is a popular internet term related to search engine optimization of websites. The byproduct of such optimization is improved performance.
I found myself praying this morning for an optimization of my life. More than ever before I am longing to spend my life in busying myself with only the best God has to offer. There are endless alternatives to choose from – many of them good things, but not God’s best. Worse, many of them are Ishmaels and not Isaacs. They are things that will sidetrack us from God’s best. (See Genesis 16-17 and my blog post “If life is short, how should I live.” pt. 5)
I have given birth to enough Ishmaels in my life to know what a destructive diversion they can be. Side-track involvements not only drain away time and energy, but worse, they keep us from investing that time and energy in the things we really should be doing. Our lives should be spent in doing things that more perfectly match who we were created to be and in the end will count for God and give Him glory.
And so I made a fresh commitment today to live an optimized life. From a Biblical perspective, the optimized life is a life that chooses the very best God has to offer in terms of who He has created me to be and employs it in doing, to the best of my knowledge, what He has called me to do.
Quaker author Parker Palmer terms this congruence of being and doing as the harmonizing of soul and role. Our soul is that unique blend of intellect, emotion and motivation imbued in us by God from birth that frames our inner life. Our role is representative of the things we find ourselves doing in our outer life. Optimization happens when the God-given motivations of our inner life can be authentically expressed through our outer life – when soul and role are one.
Only when soul and role meld together in this way is life truly optimized. It is then and only then that we find an inner peace that brings both fulfillment and fruitfulness in life. And most importantly, I believe it is then and only then, that we bring genuine pleasure and glory to God who created us.