I’m in a rut. How do I know this? I’m procrastinating. I’m wasting time. I’m “vegging” in front of the television. I’m not reaching out and I’m not challenging myself beyond my comfort zone. I think I need a good, solid kick in the butt!
So what should one do to challenge oneself? Go the extra mile! Maybe you need to start small – so go an extra quarter mile! Instead of turning your back on someone who is irritating you, try listening harder to what they are saying and look a bit beyond the apparent problem. Are they angry? It is probably not anger at you. What made them angry? Was it the way somebody else treated them? Perhaps in a kind way, you can make them see how their own behavior is affecting you.
Does somebody look sad, lonely, empty? I bet you can find some way to cheer them up. I just read a story about a five year old girl who wanted to give one dozen roses away to people of her choosing on her birthday. The account said the act had a profound impact on everyone involved.
When we stop thinking of our own feelings, and attempt to do more for others we actually feel better – about ourselves, and about others. Step out of your comfort zone. Get out of that chair! Make a difference in somebody’s life.
The recent bombings in Boston, and the resulting manhunt brought fear and terror to our nation. They resulted in loss of life and limb for too many innocent people. Yet, there were an amazing amount of still other innocent persons who put their lives on the line to help, and to bring order out of chaos. They are true heroes. They are extraordinary examples of selflessness and love. When I think of them, I realize that I, indeed, have a great distance to go before I can come even a little close to greatness.
My first action, though, must be to push myself beyond my comfort zone. It IS possible for all of us to be better than we are!
We are raised to be strong, to assertively go after the things we want. Then, just when we begin making decisions for ourselves, the issue of faith becomes a factor. How do we separate going after what we want, from “letting go and letting God?” Can choice, control, and trying to hear what God wants for us exist side by side?
I heard a sermon recently where the minister had taken time off to step back and look at where she was at in her ministry. She thought she wanted one thing. Turned out, she – and a new congregation – needed something else. She mentioned the song “The Summons” in her sermon. The first line of that song is this: “Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?”
So how do we know when an opportunity is OUR idea or GOD’S idea? How do we LOSE the control that we have worked so hard to achieve as we have worked toward our goals? How can we know what GOD wants for us? How do we LEARN to TRUST? How do we quiet ourselves enough to HEAR if a different direction is the RIGHT one for us?
I’m trying to listen…to really hear…to recognize that gentle pull that keeps leading me in a particular direction. It’s hard. I like to know where I am going. I like road maps and clear directions. I’m trying to trust, and to let myself be led. I guess no one ever said it would be easy.
Recently I saw a question on Facebook that gave me pause. It read: If there is one thing you could change about your life, what would it be?
After giving this some serious thought, I concluded that I’m not sure I would change anything. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, one person/one experience/one life event affected every other one, and each one continued to make its own impact, like dominoes falling one against the next. Had I not gone to the college I chose, I would not have met or maintained friendships with some of my closest friends. Had I not worked in all of the different jobs that I did, I would have missed out on meeting MANY wonderful people – staff and clients, both – who had an impact on my life. While there are many ways in which I can still work to improve myself, I kind of like the person I’ve become. If I changed any one thing in my life, who would I be instead?
There is one thing that happened years ago that has continued to affect my life. I stopped to reflect on whether or not I would have changed that. It was the death of my father when I was only fourteen. That had a huge impact upon me. It caused me to curl up in a shell for many years. Where I might have been encouraged to be more outgoing, more creative, more assertive…I was not. Choices I made through college and years following may have been very different ones had my father lived longer. On the other side of the coin, I watched my mother decline for years with dementia. I was closest to my dad, and it would have broken my heart to see him decline like that.
No, I don’t believe I would change a thing. I have made choices, met amazing people, had experiences both good and bad that have formed me into the person I am today. I am not perfect. I haven’t become anybody great, but I like me, and I am satisfied with my life, and those who are in it. Regrets? Yes, as the song goes “I have a few, but too few to mention.” I’ve discovered that life is a process, a journey. Each day is a new adventure. “Do-overs” would be nice, but we don’t get them. This life is making me into a better person. I hope and I pray that what I have learned, along with my efforts to get better and to keep growing and improving, are the things that will count in the next life. Besides, I am unique. There is no one now, nor will there ever be another person, who gets to experience life exactly as I have or have the same thoughts that I do. I want to continue to get to know me, and to share that me with all the world!