While I haven’t personally made any New Year’s Resolutions, I have been thinking a lot about what I would like to do in 2016 and how I will go about making it actually happen. In turn, this has caused me to look back on some of the foundational pieces that have helped me overcome many personal struggles. In looking back, what I see is it takes 4 firmly placed building blocks to live life fully alive. While I still occasionally fight battles, I can tell you these 4 fundamental things have helped me and continue to help me overcome each and every war waged. Though we don’t live the fairy-tale portrayed-lives played out on our television screens, the reality is, our endings can look so much better. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. We will, without a doubt, be met with challenges along the way. But, when we have these 4 things in place, we will find we have more power and ability to stand and fight the good fight…and maybe even win.
1. LET GO OF FEAR
Fear is meant to stop us. It can look like many different things and often it disguises itself. When we look at the battles waged in the Bible we see that sometimes it is disguised as a giant or something that is too big to be achieved or something that just isn’t possible. This little whisper causes us to stop dead in our tracks. The result? We lose the battle before we have even begun. What needs to happen, instead, is we need to look at the giant and recognize that it is possible to overcome, but understand that we must replace our fear with faith. For example, one thing I would like to help our family do is pay down our mortgage so that we can be completely debt free. That, my friends, is a behemoth goal – especially in a one-income household. I could look at it, and quit, just because it’s big. But, I’m instead going to begin by taking baby steps toward that goal. Will it happen? Can we do it? I don’t know, honestly, but all I can do is begin taking the steps needed and then pray that God will provide along the way. I’m not going to allow my fear of the goal stop me before I even get started. Not knowing what the future holds, can create much panic in one wanting to venture outside of what is considered ‘normal.’ It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose weight, start a business, become debt free, save a marriage, overcome anxiety, help a loved-one facing challenges, or change directions in your career path. Each and every one of these things can cause fear. Until we are willing to look at the giant before us and say “I can beat you” even if it takes time and patience and stepping out in faith, then we will be beat every time. Faith, however, will allow us to move forward – little by little – despite the fear and take the next steps needed.
2. ASK FOR HELP
This seems so simple. But unfortunately we, a prideful bunch of people, struggle desperately to ask for help. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was ingrained in us, along the way, that asking for help means one is weak. I beg to differ. If there is one thing I’ve learned on my journey it is this: asking for help takes a lot of courage. As I have suffered through depression and anxiety, the last thing I wanted to do was ask for help. After all, I was strong enough – so I thought – to overcome it on my own. But, the truth is, I was also scared. After all, what would be said about me? How would people view me? What would come to the surface? What would my counselor or doctor think of me? (See why faith is necessary in the journey? There was a whole lot of fear buried there too.) The reality is this, we need people in our lives that are smarter and wiser than us, if we are going to succeed at anything. The Bible tells us that pride comes before the fall. Well, let’s just say I was falling, and I was falling hard and fast. I am grateful to have learned this lesson. For I know I will get further and achieve more when I take this small step forward.
I recently for that matter, recognizing this as a key factor to success, decided to go beyond my own wisdom and sign up with a personal trainer to help me achieve my fitness goals. I had been trying to do it on my own, with little success. After all, I knew the drill…eat less, exercise more. What more could there be? But, reality is, the older you get the harder this particular thing is to do – add in medications that keep you from being able to lose weight, and suddenly you’re met with a lot more of a struggle than if you’re a 20-somthing individual (no-offense to you 20-somethings…I’m just jealous). 🙂 I could go on and on with how I have seen this truth proven over the years in my life, but I will just say…ask for help, you won’t regret it.
3. SEEK COMMUNITY
Another component, I have found that has aided in my successes over giant personal obstacles is my community. This may seem simple, but may be difficult for some especially if you’re an introvert or loner – as was the case with me. These aren’t just your everyday acquaintances. These are people whom you can open up to and be completely you. No lies. No facades. Just the real you. These are people, who don’t judge you and are simply saying, I’m in the boat with you no matter how rough the waters get. One of the Bible stories, I often refer back to is that of Moses leading the Israelite’s out of Egypt. If you are familiar with this story, you’re aware that there were many wars encountered along the way, for it wasn’t easy for them to succeed either. However, when Moses had someone holding up his arms, as he tired along the way, he and his men won the battles that came at them. But, when he didn’t, he found they were losing the wars. The truth is, no matter what you want to accomplish in 2016 you are going to get tired. We all start out excited and ready to jump on board, but then it gets hard. If we are trying to go it alone, we won’t achieve the goal, as we will give up. In contrast, if we do have people around us that can build us up when we are getting tired or help us through something difficult, we will find a renewed strength that we didn’t realize was available to us. Consider this truth. God’s spirit lives within man. If we separate ourselves from others we may be missing out on opportunities to hear God speak to us and give us the strength we need to keep moving forward (Anatomy of the Soul). Isaiah 40:31 says this, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Having people in our lives that can help us get up and move forward when the journey seems to hard may just be what is needed to help each of us find success at our goals in the new year. Find your people and arm yourself with new strength when the going gets rough. Coming from a loner/introvert I can honestly say, I wouldn’t be on this side of my journey without my people! If you have these people in your life, consider yourself blessed! If not, ask God to bring these people into your life – I believe He will be faithful.
4. Seek Patience
This may well be the hardest of all the keys factors I’ve found for conquering my struggles. After all I live in a “want it now” society and so, by default, I want it now. 🙂 I’m learning, however, through gardening – go figure – that things don’t just spring up and happen. They take time, care, watering, food, and such to grow. And even at that they don’t necessarily multiply in a year. In gardening it actually usually takes about 3 years. Deuteronomy 7:22 says it like this, “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
Things take time. I’ve recently learned this lesson the hard way. I, wanting an English Garden, decided to take on an entire area that surrounds my backyard. In my head, it seemed perfect and fool-proof. I was naive. Little did I know that watering an entire plotted area would encourage moles to enter our backyard. Combine those pests with 2 puppies that thought “hunting” was in their bloodline and I’m now faced with an entire yard that pretty much needs re-done. All because I wanted to plant and create an instant English Garden. Sigh. Needless to say, my lesson has been learned.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter what our goals are, for anything worth achieving will take time and patience. The overnight successes aren’t legit, they are just what we see. The reality is, getting to these places – the ones truly worth anything – are going to take time and patience.
Go. Fight. Win.
So there you have it. My 4 recommended foundations for building your dreams in 2016. Fight your fears with faith, ask for help, surround yourself with others whose goals are similar to yours, and give it time.
My best to you and yours in 2016!
Til next time,