I’ve struggled for years with disclosing personal details. I know, I’ve shared A LOT on social media already compared to many people. But when sharing comes easily, you can say a lot without disclosing everything.
I’ve remained silent on issues related to COVID-19 for a while now because I feel the need to be intellectually honest enough to admit when the jury’s still out – when conflicting scientific sources surface regularly.
So you don’t believe you have a destiny… Got it. Probably not the ideal article for you to read, then. It won’t hurt my feelings if you tune out. For those of you who DO or who MIGHT think you have a destiny, I’m talking to you.
If a planet killer asteroid is headed toward you, do you follow the rules that will cost you your life? Or do you break from protocol to save the world?
Life is too short to waste on continuously dreaming impossible dreams.
To camp out in the land of disappointed, deferred hope is suicide.
Pop culture wields amazing power. Words often take on new meanings due to popular use, and their meanings evolve over generations to match the current mindset of the people. We think we know what we’re saying, but do we really?
It’s important to call attention to assumptions, though, because we build entire thought processes and philosophies upon the supposed meanings of words. Your entire life is shaped by the decisions you make based on what you believe words to mean.
In the course of pursuing the destiny for which you were created, you have no doubt already experienced a conflict you chosen not to engage. Some will accuse you of being inflexible or refusing to be challenged. And it might be true.
While we frown upon obesity and addiction in American culture, we celebrate and honor workaholics as the heroes of the 21st Century.
Have you ever waited to be noticed for weeks, months, maybe even years, only it never happened? Maybe it was a promotion at work. Or maybe it was for the cute barista at the coffee shop to finally make eye contact. Or to be invited into a group you’d watched from the outside. Maybe it was a life calling that would break you out of the mold of mediocrity and finally place you where you always knew you belonged.
I remember the faces of dozens of friends and acquaintances in their early 20s who tread water in their minimum wage jobs for years as they waited for God to initiate some sort of revival movement that would sweep them off their feet and make the rest of their humdrum lives unimportant and unnecessary. I was one of those people. If ONLY we pressed into prayer, intercession, and worship with more sincerity and passion, we would surely tip the scales and miracles, prophecy, and physical manifestations of God’s power would roll over the earth like a tide.
Dealing with disappointment
Then it didn’t happen. Then it didn’t happen again. Then it didn’t happen a third time. You get the picture. Something between my expectations and reality didn’t mesh. I was waiting for something that didn’t happen. And it wrecked me. Really wrecked me.
When your expectation of life is to see healings and signs and wonders every day and instead you feel like your prayers are fizzling out before they reach the target, it’s not long before Depression lies at the door, knocking.
What’s Plan B?
The first problem was that I didn’t have a backup plan. I had connected dots in my mind that weren’t connected by God. And in this imagined reality, all commerce essentially would halt and people would walk the streets in an unrestrained atmosphere of glory and majesty. I had read books about the Welsh revival. Azusa street. And more. I don’t know what all these other Christians are waiting for, but I’m willing to be the guy who ushers this back in again.
The problem with planning on an unrestrained revival is that you’ve made no plans to earn a living. Or develop skills. Or form a family. None of these meager earthly things have been accounted for. So when revival fails to show, guess what? Depression it is!
Are you crazy or eccentric?
There’s a bitter culture shock that comes with realizing that everything you’ve planned on life being about is out of order and that you have wasted valuable time that should have been spent honing skills and practicing presence.
Oftentimes the difference between crazy and eccentric is the degree of wealth and success that result. If you bank your whole life on a risky investment and it pays off, you’re a genius. If it doesn’t, you’re a fool. I felt like a fool.
You never know what the end result will be before you start. The choice to act now comes with all kinds of risk.
- What if you choose the wrong path?
- What if you act at the wrong time?
- What if the right path was going to present itself to you a month from now and you’ll miss it if you get distracted with this now?
The gurus and the ad agencies will tell you to JUST DO IT. And they’re not wrong. But they’re not always right. Sometimes action would be the hasty choice. I think it all depends on what type of person you are, and what your motivation would be to NOT “do”. What do you gain by inaction?
- Sometimes we wait to hide from pain and risk.
- Sometimes we wait because we fear our motives.
- Sometimes we wait because the choice is unclear.
- Sometimes we wait because we don’t know what we want.
I’ve waited for each and every one of these. But now, as I approach 40, I realize that I could have chosen to GO at every moment and it would all end up okay. In moments of uncertainty, action isn’t the enemy. You can press forward toward a temporary goal with an open heart and a willingness to be course-corrected mid-trip. I think that’s the answer. Bill Leckie used to call it “Ready? Fire. Aim.” It means action and motion and willingness and flexibility. Momentum is often achieved before the destination is visible.
You can’t steer a ship that’s anchored. Steering only takes effect when there is motion.
I just finished a compelling conversation about faith, spirituality, and what to do when one’s discoveries lead us away from the pack. I was taught at one church that people who hang out on the fringe are like wandering sheep, ready to be picked off by the wolves. This safety in the herd mentality seemed logical, so long as the herd is in the right place doing the right thing.
But what if the herd is wrong? What if the herd has been following the tail of the cow in front of their face for so long that it has no accurate sense of direction? The herd does offer some semblance of protection, but the herd may also end up stuck in a pit or running off a cliff. Momentum in numbers is either really good or really bad.
Don’t allow fear to choose your path. If your conscience isn’t clear, but the herd has scared you into compliance, you’re in the wrong place.
They say no man is an island. That may be true. But equally true is that someone has to be the first to discover the island. Maybe it’s you.
But don’t stay on the island by yourself. Bring a friend. Or twenty.
Sometimes we face opportunities that don’t feel like a perfect match. Maybe they require us to be more extroverted than we naturally are. Or they focus on subjects in which we lack expertise. And sometimes they’re just not that interesting.
Sometimes the right choice is to say no to the wrong opportunities. Sometimes the right choice is to say yes to the opportunity because what we really need is to build a history of success and a pattern of facing our fears. Knowing which opportunity it is that confronts us is the real challenge.
I faced this question this year and I labored over the decision for weeks. Truth is, I could see BOTH pros and cons for the opportunity in front of me. Here are some of the benefits to consider:
The Benefits of Saying Yes
- I am in motion. FINALLY.
- I am changing my overall approach to life by saying YES.
- I am developing skills that may open many other doors later.
- When I win at this opportunity, I will have more confidence for another.
The Benefits of Saying No
- I don’t take on a burden that kills my quality of life.
- I develop the muscle of saying no because there are too many options available in life to do them all.
- I keep my open and available for a better opportunity.
- I save myself the time wasted heading in the wrong direction.
It’s not always obvious which kind of opportunity you are facing. Sometimes you face options and you can benefit from either choice. But the important thing to note is that you can win if you are aware of the possible pros and cons and you remain flexible. Mental flexibility means you can adapt to new information. It means you are not stuck in a rut of either action or inaction.
Our choices are most largely affected by our intention, our perspective, and our ability to frame the situation within a flexible, adaptable mindset. You can choose an imperfect action because you understand what you have to gain from it, and perhaps inaction has been your greatest fault.
If you’ve never gotten started, doing and doing now is important. Momentum is a skill you can maintain after you choose to fall forward.