In our lives we have lots of questions and issues that pop up. We don’t have all the answers, nor will we ever get all the answers. But I believe there’s a lot of good advice out there, should we only take the time to look for it or listen to it.
There are tons of people around the world who can give us advice. That advice isn’t always right for us, the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. But if we’re not able to see the real issue or think we’ve exhausted all possibilities and we’re stuck, getting advice from someone else is the best course of action, rather than choosing to stay stuck. I’m a big believer in the power of education and learning, and getting outside opinions is one of the best ways to work through an issue you may have or discover what the real issue is that you weren’t even aware of.
Listening to advice is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not easy to hear someone else’s opinions or judgments on something we worked really hard on or something we really like, but their advice may give you the motivation and freedom to do something you’ve been debating or try a course of action rather than stay stuck. If we can get over ourselves, our pride and our self-reliance and open up to the possibility that someone else may have some good ideas and may be able to offer some good insights, there are tons of people willing to give their opinions (educated or not) about your challenges.
No, not everything is relevant to everyone. It’s important that when you’re given advice you take time to think about it before acting on it or dismissing it. Don’t reject it because it’s too simple or too hard or because it doesn’t sound like something you want to do or would work for your situation. Instead ask them to clarify and give you some more insights on the aspects that particularly challenge you. Ask them to address the specific concerns you have. And if after you’ve really talked it through it still doesn’t seem like a good fit, then maybe you should ask for some other advice or advice from someone else.
No one knows everything, so no one can give perfect advice all of the time. Take all the advice you receive with a grain of salt, but always be open to learning new things and seeing things from a new perspective.
As we finish out last month’s talk on health, I want to talk about something that is sometimes necessary: starting over. I was thinking about finishing September and getting one step closer to the end of this year and the start of a new one and I was reminded that sometimes you have to keep trying things to see where you fit in throughout your life. What worked for you as a younger person may not work for you as an adult at this stage of your life, and what works now may not work for you in a few years.
As I was thinking about this I heard more about the phenom that is Tim Tebow. If you’re not familiar with him, he was a college football star. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and continued his record setting career through the rest of his college years. He spent a few years playing Pro football, having a few very successful (some would say lucky) plays and games, but ultimately retired in 2012. He went on to do some broadcasting, but decided it wasn’t the right fit for him and moved to pro baseball in 2016 to quite a few heckles and jeers, but managed to hit a home run on his first at bat.
What interests me about the transitions he’s done in his life is that he keeps trying. He was a fantastic college football player, but as it sometimes happens he wasn’t built for pro football. Many people after they finish their pro career go to broadcasting or some related sports non-activity, which he tried. But for some just being near something isn’t enough, they have to be truly immersed in it, as seems to be true for Tebow.
I would say the message here is two-fold. First, that you should never give up on your passions. Second, that you may have to keep trying and reinventing to get to your best. Don’t give up because past success isn’t working in the present, instead, pick yourself up and try something else.
I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately and it’s one of the things that reminds me the most of what a rush so many people are in around the world. We rush while driving, eating, buying, working, relating and planning, not to mention the ways we depend on the internet and travel related technologies to connect us all. I can’t imagine what people from Titanic’s day when SOS was new “technology” would have thought about our big inter-connected world, and the speed at which we do things normally now.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the internet very much, and the ability to travel by car or plane rather than foot or horse, and to not have to grow all my own food. But the need to go 100 mph, turn at the last second on yellow/red, walk anywhere (not just crosswalks), have instant replies to our emails and calls, and expect gourmet food in 10 minutes or less is getting to be a bit much for me. It almost makes me reconsider living in such a busy area.
The irony of this discussion is that the places that remind me most of how busy the world is and what a rush so many of us are in, are places like highways that are on the side of a mountain so miles can be seen beyond, jobs where people just want to finish the day and not change the world, or restaurants where people are so busy trying to stuff their faces with their partners or families, rather than taking time to build their relationships with the people they’re with.
The increasing presence of violence in the news has been a reminder to me, and many others, of how uncertain life really is. You don’t know if you’ll get to see another sunset, hold another worm, have another lazy Sunday afternoon, watch another hummingbird fly from flower to flower, meet someone from a career you’ve always been curious about, try that exotic cuisine, be in a relationship that thrills you or watch your kids do their sports (or other activities) again. Stop saying you’ll do it “tomorrow” and step up today.
This week I’ve been thinking about changes and happened to see a beautiful setting sun. We all have seasons where the sun sets on parts of our lives. Sometimes it’s the death of a family member or close friend, sometimes it’s a job or career change, sometimes it’s a new place to live and other times it’s smaller like the end of a brand or product we loved. The transition time isn’t something we do well with or enjoy all the time. Endings and partings aren’t things we always enjoy either, and they can be difficult and painful, and sometimes confusing especially if you weren’t expecting it.
Some of us get stuck in the change and transition process, others of us can’t let go of the past, and some of us are so busy moving forward that we don’t grieve and let go of the past. I think in most cases it’s important to take time to remember the past, work through the transition and move forward. I don’t think we should skip any of these steps, whether our past was bad or good. Learning from a bad past is helpful, but it’s also important to take time to cement the memories of the good things you have had or experienced. Yes, life is about moving forward and living to the fullest, but part of that fullness is the past that has brought you to this point.
This weekend, this summer, I encourage you to take time to enjoy the setting sun as well as the rising sun. With the late summer nights and early summer mornings there are lots of opportunities to see the sun and remember it as part of your life. I remember lots of trips as a child where we would watch the rising or setting sun while driving and a few thunderstorms too. Those are treasured memories from my childhood and I am thankful for them. Choose to find the beauty in the endings in your life this summer, not just the joy in the future or relief of leaving the past.
I love writing and reading, it’s something I’ve always loved. I enjoy the story as well as the process of doing the writing, and creative outlets like writing are an important part of my life and health. You may be familiar with the debate that’s been raging for some time about how many blogs and books there are and how sometimes it seems like everyone is saying or writing the same thing. Maybe there aren’t any new ideas, but I haven’t read too many books or blog posts that were exactly the same. Everyone and just about everything is different in at least a couple of ways, and I believe we can keep writing and reading because everyone sees things a little differently, and, even more importantly, I believe that there are still some new things and thoughts to come.
If you had asked someone in the 1800’s about what they thought the future would hold, they might have come up with some interesting ideas, but I have my doubts that they would come up with laptops and iPads, or the ability of the internet to connect different parts of the world instantly. So I don’t think it’s possible for us to run out of ideas, we’re just in a phase where we’re working with what we have and not ready to make a big upgrade yet. When it comes to the concepts that people say are overdone and overrated and overused, I’m always amazed when I read a new author or article about a topic and see things differently because I’m seeing things through a new perspective, their perspective.
Yes, there will always be someone who sees too many similarities and can’t appreciate the creative output. There will always be a critic in your life that you can’t stand. Why? Because some people just can’t see beyond their personal box. That’s not wrong, it’s just how they are. But I believe life is to be lived and can’t be fully lived if you’re not willing to see beyond where you are.
“Faith is raising the sail of our little boat until it is caught up in the soft winds above and picks up speed, not from anything within itself, but from the vast resources of the universe around us.” W. Ralph Ward
There’s something that most of us do but don’t really have the right things in mind when doing it. What am I talking about? Wanting. Do you really want that jelly doughnut, or do you want something sweet in general (could be healthy like summer raspberries) but the doughnut happens to be handy, are you trying to procrastinate or avoid something by eating it, or are you ignoring what your body really wants to eat by having the doughnut? I know, it’s a really simple example, but food is one of the areas that we’re most confused in about our real wants.
Every day we use the word “want” countless times. ‘I want to do this.’ ‘I want that one.’ ‘I want this more than you.’ ‘I want you to do it.’ The list could go on. And on the surface the question I bring up today is about whether or not you really want what you think you want. But it’s also about something so much bigger and deeper.
Last Friday was the Brexit vote, something that’s still being talked about and debated, and will be for some time. And coming up on Monday in the US we’ve got Independence Day, the day we remember when in 1776 the people of the US signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain. My point? It would be easy for people in pre-Brexit UK or Pre-Independence Day US to say ‘I want a better job’ or ‘I want a better house’ or ‘I want to make things work better between our countries.’ And none of those things are wrong. But the people of the UK and US in 1776 made some really big choices that they don’t want to just work on improving in the current (or what was current) situation, they want a new set of rules, new set of opportunities and future that doesn’t line up with how things are (were) going in the present.
As I said, it’s not wrong to want to improve within the confines of your current situation. But if you have the ability to want for something more, something bigger, something different, something new, something better for not just you but many people, why wouldn’t you want that? As we look towards the 4th in the US and the future of the UK, I encourage you to consider your life. What do you really want from and in your life?
We’ve reached the second month in 2015 and I know that already many people are feeling tired and worn out. Yes, some of that’s due to it being winter here in the US, seasonal affective disorder affects millions of people every year. But your struggle with feeling tired and worn out could also have to do with your hope or lack thereof. It’s not easy to continue on day in and day out doing good in the world, helping others, offering advice and trying to meet all of your commitments and responsibilities with all the evil and hate we see everywhere we look.
If you’re struggling as we enter this new month know that you’re not alone. There are just some days that you feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. When I get in that position I try to remind myself of what I’m working for and why I want to keep going.
Don’t give up because God is with you.
Don’t give up because you’re not alone.
Don’t give up because I believe in you.
Don’t give up because there are future generations depending on you.
Don’t give up because all is not lost, all is not wasted.
Don’t give up because there is still hope.
The fight is not over yet, the future has yet to arrive, and every day even more people are joining in the fight for a better tomorrow. God has surrounded you literally or figuratively with a powerful team, a group of people who will support you, who have the same mission as you, who believe that there is a better future to be had, and that each of us is capable of playing a key role in developing that better tomorrow.
Don’t give up if today is not a good day, rest in God, get support from friends and believe that tomorrow can and will be a better day.
“We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up.” Galatians 6:9