Rev Linda Chester explores what we think it is.
The word “fulfilment” has as many different meanings as there are people! How we are fulfilled is a very personal thing. The dictionary definition of fulfilment reads “a feeling of happiness or satisfaction”. It might also be the completion of something, a task or perhaps a promise and it can be a sense of achievement.
Although we don’t often use the word ”fulfilled” or “fulfilment” when we are talking to each other, I asked a variety of people to try and explain what fulfilment meant to them personally. Perhaps you can identify with some of these responses:
"When I’ve finished digging and planting my vegetable patch and I stand back to look, I think I feel fulfilled, even though my back aches."
"I find fulfilment in my work because it gives me great satisfaction to help others."
"I love working with wood. I suppose I’m fulfilled when I’ve finished making a bowl and the woodgrain comes to life through the polishing."
"I make my grandchildren their favourite biscuits and cakes when they come to visit. When I see their faces then I feel happy and fulfilled."
"I get great satisfaction and pleasure when I can finally play a piece of music as well as I know I can."
"I enjoy painting and when I finally complete a picture and I’m pleased with it, I feel a sense of fulfilment."
"I`m fulfilled when I’ve done something really well."
"When I’m with my family, and we’re all sitting around together, talking, laughing, enjoying ourselves, then I’m happy and fulfilled."
"In my working life, I used to make furniture. When I’d made it, delivered it and seen their reaction I was fulfilled. Especially if they paid me straight away!"
"I take a lot of photographs and it takes days to get the pictures together into a slide show and then add music. When it finally all fits together, that’s when I feel fulfilled."
"When I’ve completed an assignment, given it in to my tutor and he gives me positive feedback, then I feel relieved and pleased."
"I get a sense of fulfilment watching our grandchildren grow up and achieve."
It’s interesting that a sense of fulfilment may be gained by completing or achieving something personally, or it may be from watching others achieve when we’ve played a part.
Fulfilment is a feeling of joy, happiness, relief and peace which is often temporary. The feeling may last for minutes, hours or days. We certainly don’t usually feel fulfilled all the time.
At this time in Lent, as we move towards the final events in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, it’s interesting to contemplate what gives us fulfilment in our Christian journey of faith. In that sense, I think I would describe fulfilment as "being where I feel God wants me to be, doing what God has called me to do, and wanting nothing else."
Over the years, I’ve discovered that’s it’s the last phrase ”and wanting nothing else” that gives the real inner peace of Fulfilment.
Perhaps this might challenge you this Lent?