This past week was the celebration of Purim in Jewish communities around the world. It’s a celebration that anyone who has read the Christian Bible is familiar with as well because the story is told in the book of Esther. The story is noteworthy for many reasons, but it all boils down to a queen (a woman) stepping up for her people (Jews) and stopping an evil plot that would have been one of the earlier examples of genocide. Because of her bravery she has been remembered throughout the spiritual histories of both Christians and Jews.
This story of deliverance is an excellent example of the way that one person can step up and do something great for many people. Esther took a big risk by pleading for not only her life but the life of her people before the king. While most of us are not in the position of great power and responsibility that she was, we can still learn from her courage and her story.
Royalty in that day and age wasn’t always a by-birth thing. Esther grew up a normal girl who got picked to be queen, she didn’t know her life would take that turn. We don’t know where the journey we’re on will take us. We can make some educated guesses based on the decisions we’re making and things we see showing up in our lives. Most of us do have the power to change that path if we’re not happy with it or if we want something different/better/else. If an ordinary girl can become queen, I have to believe that the options for the rest of us are just about endless. What will you choose to do with your future?
What motivates you? Today I’m thinking about motivation as I deal with unmotivated clients and have personally struggled to find my stride again after dealing with some life and health situations. I think the biggest challenge is that we say to ourselves that we’ll deal with “x” when we’re through this challenge. But as soon as we get through a challenge we’re hit with something else and that thing, “x”, that seemed so important still seems really important, but is just getting further buried under the challenges of life, things that seem more pressing than “x”.
So what if we backed up a whole lot and thought about why we get up in the morning. And no, I’m not really talking about the fact that you get up because the sun is up or the alarm goes off or the kids run in and bounce on the bed or because you have to go to a job or because the kids are up and may be heading to school. Some of those things can be indicators for why you get up, but in most cases if we really were honest, they’re not the reason we get out of bed. The unfortunate thing is that many of us don’t get out of bed because we’re excited and thankful for a new day. We get up because we have to, or at least that’s the attitude we have about it.
Sure, you could stay in bed, and maybe your boss or kids would be willing to work with you on that. Maybe the kids are willing to climb in bed with you with cups with lids and watch a TV show or two for an hour so you can mentally wrap your head around the day ahead or just rest with them and maybe even catch up on your emails or read a book. Maybe your boss would love someone to come in an hour later and leave an hour later because it will help deal with the client issues that always seem to crop up at the end of the day better. You don’t know until you ask.
But now we’ve completely gotten sidetracked. The question, if you remember, is why do you get out of bed in the morning? What really and truly motivates you to live your life each day? Is there anything that you’re really feeling motivated by, or have you let life get the best of you and you’ve stopped looking forward to what the day will bring. I believe each and every day can hold some really amazing things, but we don’t always have the open eyes or heart to receive them.
As part of what we do for the last week of the month I do want to take a look at being motivated, but I really want to work on tapping back into our hearts and listening to them again, believing in them and ourselves and opening up to the best this world has to offer, rather than just floating along.
“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.” Blaise Pascal
It’s been a busy week for me, I’ve been doing lots of thinking and discovering. Of course with that typically comes up a lot of the feelings, thoughts, and memories that you wish could stay buried forever. While some can be reburied immediately (or as soon as possible), others need to be considered and dealt with, typically because they haven’t been dealt with in the past. It’s not bad to have these things come back up, and honestly, the sooner they do, the better. Because it’s not until you’ve dealt with them truly that you can really move forward. Even if you didn’t remember the pain, fear, anger, frustration, hurt or other painful emotions from the past and the memories that they’re connected to, they could be holding you back. While I’m not a big believer in digging up as much dirt and the past as possible over and over, sometimes it’s necessary to work through what happened and how you felt in the past because it will help you navigate the current change you’re going through in a better way and free you to see the world in a new light.
Whether you’re reinventing yourself, bringing things back to life, looking at things from a new perspective, creating something new, or making changes, you will have to deal with some challenging emotions, including those of failure. While I don’t expect that you will fail in your process (I hope you don’t!) many people do experience some failures when they’re working through the change process. Why? Because when things change we typically run into things we haven’t experienced before, or we’ll hit our personal stumbling blocks (including those we haven’t dealt with from the past) and we’ll trip and fall or not get it right on the first try because it’s new to us. And again, while it’s not fun to fail, no one is perfect and few of us get things right on the first try.
So if you’re going through a time of transition like me, don’t hide or run from the past or the emotions and challenges that you face as you transition, change, think, grow, create or discover. Know that they are part of the journey and could teach you valuable lessons to apply to your future. And even if they don’t apply to your future, finally working through them can free you from baggage you didn’t even know you had holding you down.
I can remember as a child the town I lived in planting evergreen trees to hide water containment units. Some towns are proud of their water towers, but we didn’t have pretty ones or ones with our town name or mascot on it, they were simple green cylinders. While I don’t live in the town any longer I still drive through occasionally to visit with friends and work with clients, so I see how things change and grow. Some of the most remarkable growth in the town is with the trees that were planted at the edge of the property where the water units are: it’s almost impossible to see the units anymore unless you’re at the (short) driveway of the property. It’s the best result they could have hoped for when they planted them, many towns aren’t as successful with trees they plant and replant each year hoping for better results.
Sure, the town could have come up with a different plan, maybe painting the units, having the town get involved in painting them (perhaps something patriotic) or just telling people to deal with it like many other towns with a visible water unit do. But instead they took the time to think about a solution that would be visually appealing and good for the environment, even if it might take a little extra work. Trees do require some care, they need watering especially when they’re in their early years, and they could look scraggly if they aren’t cared for, which would defeat the purpose of having them. But the town has taken the time and put in the effort to care for them and grow them into trees any tree-hugger would be proud of.
These trees are a great reminder for us that some things take work and time. We may start something today that won’t show a lot of fruit until our children or grandchildren are our age. We may not even live to see some of the great results. If you think about the men and women who sailed on the Mayflower and other ships, they didn’t know all the trials and tribulations we would go through to reach this point, or the great things and people that have happened and been part of the journey thus far. Don’t give up because you’re not seeing a great result today, keep putting in the effort day by day and don’t give up on your dreams.
“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffett
Today we’re wrapping up this month’s look at faith. Have you lived this month on faith? We live on faith so much more often than we really think. We have faith every time we get into our cars and drive that someone else won’t hit us. We have faith every time we get into a building or skyscraper that it was constructed to code and with strong materials. We have faith every time we go to a restaurant or the food store that the food we get will be safe to eat. We have faith in our technologies that they will protect us when we go online and that the technologies will connect us to the people we want to connect with. We have faith in the people who live around us that they’re not going to do something crazy and dangerous that could potentially harm us or our friends and families. And ultimately we have faith that we will wake up again tomorrow.
Faith is something we have in today and in tomorrow and the days beyond tomorrow. Faith is something we have in ourselves and the people we live in this world with. When we don’t have faith in today, tomorrow, ourselves and others life becomes more challenging than it should be. Sometimes we’re given reasons to doubt or have crisis of faith, but when we make that our life habit or practice we’re not only miserable but also missing out on many parts of life.
Faith isn’t a drive-thru meal, it’s something that may take time to create and it’s something that endures. If you have faith as part of your life you must be patient and willing to work on developing the relationships and putting in the effort that it takes to really build a great life, because you believe there is a great life out there for you (and for others). You aren’t blind to the challenges of today, but neither do you discount the miracles that tomorrow may have.
Do you need to strengthen your faith? You don’t have to do it all at once, choose that you will have more faith and take it a step, place, person and/or day at a time.
“The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” Ralph Marston
This month the topic we’re focusing on is faith. It’s a topic that challenges us and gives us hope at the same time. We’re still at the beginning of this month which means we’ve got most of the month stretched out before us yet to work through. As I was thinking about the month ahead and about the changes going on in my life, and the changes you’re going through, it got me on to the topic of how we deal with new things and changes in our lives. Each time we start a new month there’s a lot of unknown that we have to have faith will work itself out. It may even feel like we need that trust in a bigger way as we work through each day.
Each time you buy a new phone, move to a new place, start a new relationship, or take a relationship to the next level you have to put a little (or a lot) of trust and faith into the change you’re making, the new journey you’re starting or the person you’re choosing to experience life with. You may be excited about that new thing or that change, but of course what shows up for most of us is fear, doubt, confusion, uncertainty, and lots of questions. I get that. We all deal with those feelings to varying degrees. The people who truly succeed in life are those who experience those feelings but move forward anyway. It’s not that they don’t feel those scary and confusing emotions or have doubts, it’s that they choose to focus on what they hope the future includes and are prepared to deal with the failures and complications that may show up along the way.
Are the changes in your life worth the faith that you’re putting up for them? If they’re not maybe it’s time to reconsider the path you’re taking in your life. Maybe the issue isn’t the changes or new things, but the amount of faith you have in them being successful. Don’t be afraid of putting in the effort it may take as long as you know that you really want what you’re working towards. What areas of your life are you working through in faith right now?
It’s not easy to live your purpose some times. Some of us are called to do dangerous things, go dangerous places or work with dangerous people. And even if we’re not, we usually face obstacles to fulfilling them and people who don’t want us to succeed. It can be discouraging to be in these situations and be trying to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives. The good news is that not only do we not go through our lives alone, we’re not without tools to overcome the challenges we face.
Who goes with us? First and foremost God goes with us. He has promised to never leave us alone, and while we may not see or feel Him working in our lives and supporting us, He is always there! God also sends people into our lives to support us. Some people will support us physically or in person, other people will support us through prayer. Both types of people are valuable, and we do need both to be fully supported and be able to make it through the challenges we face.
Second, we have personal gifts, tools, and abilities that God has blessed us with to use while learning, exploring and fulfilling our purposes. God would not give us a purpose to live without providing us with the tools we need to do it, or at the very least the ability to get the knowledge we need to make it happen.
Finally, God knows that we will face opposition, pain, hurt and hatred throughout our life journey. The good news is that He also sends protection in the form of His angels, special people on earth and The Armor of God to protect us and help us in our times of need. If you’re feeling resistance to fulfilling your purpose or in your life in general, take time this week to reequip your armor if necessary and reconnect with God and the people of protection He’s put in your life for such a time as this. Don’t give up yet, the best is yet to come.
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11