Updated: Jun 16, 2020
This was the printed mission statement on the back of our wedding bulletin.
Esse Quam Videri - To be, rather than to seem
When my husband and I were dating we often talked about our individual values and non-negotiables of life. Our conversations would began with something along the lines of "it is important to me that..." or "I value (this)" or "how do you feel about (x,y,z)."
Four weeks after our first Tinder date we noticed that we shared a set of similar values, priorities, and desires for this lifetime. SO, naturally we decided that we would make excellent co-parents and decided to start TTC just 8 weeks after that. Okay so maybe that isn't the natural sequence of events for everyone but there was some serious forces at work in our life.
Just 7 months and a handful of days after our first date we were in the second trimester with our first child and we were getting married!! We decided to write a mission statement that would guide our decisions throughout our marriage. This may sound overly hopeful but we were two counselors get married after just 7 months of dating. So in our own theoretical framework it made the most sense to be intentional in executing a stable foundation routed in faith and values. Our friends and families did not seem particularly surprised by our decisions, but they certainly voiced their concerns. Scott and I were just about as head over heels as anyone could be and we wanted to decide on our marriage during the honeymoon phase instead of sliding into it much later when it would have become the predictable next step. To us, this felt like the ultimate I CHOOSE YOU that we could give one another.
This is where the mission statement comes in:
We compiled our reflections from the previous 7 months and wrote our mission statement together. This gave us a sense of purpose and direction. Through our marriage we could come back to this mission and refocus with the guidance that our younger selves so thoughtfully mapped out. Truthfully, this was the best gift we gave ourselves and our marriage. We frequently revisit our mission statement to guide us through life's most challenging times.
Just one week after writing our mission statement Scott and I went to my 14 week gender reveal ultrasound. This was the day before our wedding and also the day of our rehearsal. The plan was to have the gender written down and given to the bakery so that we would find out the gender of our baby when we cut the cake at our wedding the following day. My cousin Lisa was doing our ultrasound and I will never forget the moment she looked at me and said "Anna, I have been looking to find the Gender of your baby and praying to God to help me know how to find the words to say..." I am not totally sure exactly what came out of her mouth after that, but the news was that something was severally wrong with our baby and we were going to need to go directly to a specialist from her office. Lisa prayed with us and gave us a recording our our baby's heartbeat in a stuffed animal. When we left her office we went and met with several other doctors as they tried to figure out what the prognosis was. It was around 5:00 PM that we were given the news that our baby was not going to live outside of the womb, that we would never get to raise her or share this lifetime with her the way we had planned.
Our rehearsal was supposed to start around 6:00 and I praise God for flooding the streets and sending a tropical storm that night. We were able to swiftly call our wedding party and let them know due to the weather the rehearsal would be canceled. We revisited our mission statement. "Striving to be present in life precious moments." may have been what carried me through our wedding the next day.
A week later we were being persuaded by doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Scott and I were 5 days into a new marriage and closing on a house the next day. We had opposing views on what decision to make. So we turned to our mission statement and as we read the words "to challenge the limits of man's mind, seeking to eliminate the barriers that prevent us from living in faith." We aligned in thought that God's provision is Good and we will relinquish our control from this decision and allow him to work in his timing.
Over the course of 32 weeks I carried Elizabeth and celebrated every in-utero mile stone we could. I will never forget the first time I saw her swallow amniotic fluid, kick her legs, pucker her lips, or the time Scott and I held her hand through the side of my belly button. Every Wednesday morning Scott and I would spend 30 minutes through ultrasound technology celebrating the only form of life we would ever know our daughter in. Trust me, this has to be one of the worse things to face at the start of a marriage. But in that time of confusion, fear, and overwhelming sadness our mission statement provided the foundation of a solid ground that we could stand firmly on as we aligned our decisions with our values and moved forward in peace.
I believe you can do the same thing in just a few simple steps. Whether it is your mission for the year, for your life, for your marriage, a mission statement can be a foundation to guide you through your life's work.
1. Learn the difference between your beliefs and your values, list them out.
2. Use your values list to guide your mission.
3. Be very selective of the verbiage you use.
We looked up just about all the words we used when we were writing our statement just so we could make sure their definition was something that we could be in line with for a lifetime. The words we use are very important to the constructs we create. Words can inspire and they can minimize validity; they can build up or they can tear down. Make sure to choose your words with intention.
"Words craft the lens that we see the world through." -Scott F. Miller
4. Set your Intention for your mission statement.
Remember that a mission statement is not a goal statement or a why statement. A mission statement is your guide to help you navigate decisions, behaviors and code of conduct in order along your journey.
5. Make the mission sustainable and reasonable in nature.
Creating a mission statement from an idealistic view of your life's values will leave you unsettled and result in feelings of inadequacy, my recommendation is to avoid this. You may need to do some soul searching and that is okay.
Once you have your mission statement complete make sure to place it somewhere meaningful. Ours has been published in our wedding bulletin and we had it printed and hung in a hallway of our home.
Best of luck and please share yours with me once it is complete!