“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? If the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Our family has been working to take advantage of the beautiful weather we have had over the last few weeks. Part of this involves following Madi all over the neighborhood as she rides her bike. This serves a two fold purpose. She burns some energy and I get a little exercise while enjoying the beauty of fall. However, her focus is limited at best. Madi rides her bike while enjoying the scenary as well. This means she spends a lot of time being bailed out of bushes. She always begins well. She has her eyes focused to the end of the sidewalk and she heads for her goal, only to be sidetracked. It could be a bird, pretty flower, or a child her age. She then continues to ride her bike while she turns around to tell me about it. She inevitably ends up riding off of the sidewalk and running into something. We have to stop, get her back on the sidewalk and headed in the right direction once more. It can be a maddening process that sometimes reminds me of my life.
If I am not intentional, I tend to be a person that “Life” happens to. In the book, “Seven Habit’s of Highly Effective People”, Steven Covey addresses this issue. In the first few chapters he talks about identifying your circle of influence, meaning the people you have direct contact with on a regular basis. This can mean your family, friends and coworkers. He then encourages you to line up all of your responsibilities. As humans, we tend to spend time doing things to stay “busy” as opposed to doing the things that will keep us moving foward. He then encourages us to set a mission statement, or a goal, for our lives and then identify the steps we need to take to make those goals happen. Almost like a business plan for life. As Dave Ramsey likes to say, “Children do what feels good, but ADULTS devise a plan and stick to it.”
This all sounds good and wonderful, right? So, I went through my series of questions. I identified the character traits that I wanted people to talk about at my funeral. Morbid, I know, but it alls comes to beginning with the end in mind. I put it all on paper and identified my mission statement. At the end of my life, I want people to remember be as a lover and encourager of people. I am someone who believes that you can achieve anything you put your mind too, and I want to empower the people around me (especially my husband and kids) to believe the same. So why am I still in a funk? Why am I still having trouble bringing my end goals into focus? Why is it that at the age of 31, I STILL don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? To be blunt, I feel like I’ve been stuck in a bush!
God has been working on me in the area of mindset over the course of the last few months. He has been challenging me to see “things” and “people” as he sees them. To focus in on “Who” He really is as opposed to “Who” I think he is. Yesterday, as I was reading through the book of 1 John, I was especially challenged about how Children of God are identified. 1 John 4: 15-18 says, “All who confess that Jesus is the son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God IS love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” The bible goes on to say that if I say I love God, but hate a Christian brother or sister then I am a liar.
Yesterday, God pulled me out of the bushes and put me back on to the sidewalk. He renewed my focus and said, “Let’s go.” You see, I have been a terrible lover of people. I expect so much from the people in my life, that I don’t allow them to be their authentic self in my presence. When people are flawed or different from me (thought, words, deeds), I tend not to let them get too close. Isn’t it ironic that we are all flawed, including myself. The beauty of the cross is that Christ came to us while we were still sinners. He didn’t wait until we had it all together (as HE thought we should) before he accepted us and gifted us with his grace. As 1 John 4 says, we can face God with confidence because we live like Jesus here in the this world. My new focus is this. To love the people in my life, my circle of influence, right where they are at. To build them up and encourage them in their goals. To set healthy boundaries and to give them the permission to do the same with me. To focus on the character of Christ and mimic his traits until they are second nature. To depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to do an amazing work of transformation, not only in my life, but the lives of those who surround me.
This new focus will not be an easy one. I am in day three and have already spent a tremendous amount of time in prayer. But, I know that in the end, love will be the only thing that matters. I leave you with this last thought from John, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our accomplishments and possessions. These are not from the Father, they are from this world.” (1 John 2:16) I am choosing to no longer focus on the best the world has to offer. I am ready to be sold out on the best God has to offer. I can’t wait to embark on the journey he is challenging me too.