Learn to accept things you cannot change in the immediate present.
Understand that in any situation you do have choices.
Those choices start in your mind. No one, no matter what the physical circumstance may be that you encounter can control the thoughts that rest in your mind. In the mind is where the seeds of action are planted and begin to grow. We must feed our minds constantly with positive reinforcement.
It is always helpful when we can find external sources of encouragement, but I have found over the course of my 48+ years that there will be times when external sources are unavailable/non-existent.
When we have our world view rooted in the belief and confidence in a higher power (Almighty God) and a trust that God is good (my experience confirms this in my own life), then we can continue to push ahead even when external factors in our immediate world circumstance seem set against us.
When we push against these circumstances and continue to endure we actually get STRONGER and more capable as a result. Like lifting weights…when we push against resistance, it strengthens us in many areas.
The journey of life is a long one for most of us…hopefully…even in this temporal existence on planet Earth.
When I was 15 I thought I had knowledge, but later I realized how limited that knowledge was.
At 25 I reflected back. Then at 35 I reflected back on 25. Then at 45 I reflected back on 35 and so on.
No matter how intelligent we may be with the natural gifts God has given us, there are some levels of wisdom that only come with time and experience.
As we gain this experience to the extent we are able, we need to try and pass the experience “back down the line” to those coming up behind us. If we have trust with those coming along behind us and a medium for sharing and reflection, then greater benefit can flow. A younger person can sometimes benefit from the vision of the older person and have better vision on where to go…sort of like seeing into the future without actually being there yet.
Also, it is good, when young, to dream, visualize and plan for the future. Having a plan and visualizing a direction for life is always a good thing. If you don’t have a plan for where you are going, how will you know when you get there? How will you measure progress?
That said, when we plan and work toward a goal and then factors, sometimes beyond your immediate control, impact that plan and force you to adjust, you have to learn how to adjust, keep perspective and keep moving forward.
When I was in my teens, 20s and even into my mid-30s and early-40s, I struggled with this dynamic.
When my plans would get disrupted, I was frequently unsure how to adjust or best restart.
At times this resulted in a state of “paralysis” and inaction, indecision and resulting depression.
I am not exactly sure how or why change was so difficult for me for so long. It was hard to understand.
Sometimes it is in our nature and sometimes it is also in our nurture or our early environment and what we have been taught and conditioned to believe. Early on in life, I had a somewhat simplistic view of life whereby I believed that if I did all the “right” things I was supposed to do that everything I wanted in life would just happen as I expected it to do. I had some reinforcing experiences on this early on in the controlled environment of school and community where I was not as exposed to outside forces that would later teach me otherwise.
Later in life, into early adulthood, I began to have some experiences where I did what I thought I was supposed to do, the “right” thing, if you will and the results did not happen the way I thought they should. I would get frustrated by this and at times I would just “shut down” for a period of time as a result. I had not reached the point of a more balanced, and mature perspective, which is that we can sometimes put forth our very best effort and things may not turn out exactly as we expect, YET, we must continue to seek opportunities to put forth our very best effort because, eventually, doing so—going through the process of putting forth our best effort wherever we are and however we can will lead us a better place than we would have been otherwise.
Putting forth our best effort, staying calm in the face of adversity, staying positive in the face of challenges, disappointments and sometimes failures that happen…and if we are really pushing ourselves to do something, sometimes we are going to fail….in fact, the absence of failure in life may be evidence that someone has never really tried to push themselves to do something significant..or push beyond known and pre-defined limits….So failure is the seed of greater success…it is like fertilizer for the crop of success if you will…..So when we continue to push, we put ourselves in a position to have good things happen to us.
At some point others are going to recognize it. At some point we are going to find a resonant location or situation or group or organization or company or some entity that will harness our desire to do good and harness our skills and give us an opportunity to contribute.
The world is always in need of contributors. Sometimes finding the time and the place and the situation can be time consuming and difficult. But it can eventually, and usually is, found for those who continue to do the “little things” each day the lead them to a better place and station.
To keep things in perspective, it is helpful to remind ourselves to be thankful for small blessings and be thankful for the good things we do have. There are many “false narratives” in society that would have us believe negative things about ourselves and/or others….believe “false narratives” about what it is to be successful. “False narratives” that may at times glorify bad, pernicious or evil things in this world. We must understand that those narratives exist but keep them in proper perspective … at a distance…
We must remember that God gives us the choice and the responsibility to define our own narrative in life and we can choose to make that one a positive narrative each and every day. There are going to be times of uncertainty, adversity, unexpected change, disappointment, and struggle. There are ALSO going to be times of joy, victory, happiness, achievement, satisfaction and contribution when we continue to pursue positive effort and continue to work toward that end.
Emotions can be a tricky thing. I have learned that my emotions can give me “false” indicators from time to time. If I feel upset or angry…which happens to all of us at times, I must understand that being upset or angry and making an important decision from that perspective may not, in fact probably will not, be the best decision I could make. I have been through that experience of making an impulsive decision to do something or not do something in a moment of anger. My experience after the fact taught me, more than once, that this was not the best way to go.
So we have to understand that we do, as humans, have emotions, but we should not let our emotions of the moment overtake us and guide our decision making. The same can also be said for moments of extreme happiness, exhilaration of joy. Those may not be the best times to make important decisions either. We can be “unbalanced” on the happiness scale too.
We should take all these things into account.
Remember, we do have a God who loves us. His ways are much, much higher than our ways.
There are going to be things in this life that we do not understand.
There are going to be sad things that we do not understand. God has an answer in the end to all of it.
We must, in the time and space we have, do the best we can with what God has given each of us and try to make the world a little better place. We should not measure ourselves too closely against others (the Bible counsels us on this). God has designed each of us with a unique purpose and a unique role to play.
We can learn from one another, we can follow good examples that others may set for us…and avoid the bad examples….BUT we cannot allow ourselves and our own life and contribution to be defined by others. That is God’s domain and His alone.
These are thoughts that I hope have value for others. They have a lot of value for me as they are the result of a lot of thinking, programming and reprogramming over time. I know God has been an active player in my experience. God has opened doors for me and closed others. At times I did not, and still do not, understand why. That is OK. I am not required to understand everything. I only know that God asks me to use the knowledge, time and space I have to do the best I can where I am and leave the rest to Him. If by doing that He enlarges (or shrinks) my territory to His ends, that Is within His power to do so.
Each day I should only endeavor to do my best…but also do it in a balanced way and not go too far to the extreme in one direction. If God wants me at an “extreme” I believe He will make that very, very clear. For most of us, He does not want us at a far “extreme”. He has not designed most of us for that.
We are called to do what God has designed each of us to do and also to remember that God’s timing is not our timing. We don’t always control the outputs. We can strive our best to control the inputs. Then keep putting in the inputs and see where they take us! It can be fun! It can be rewarding! Eventually with enough good inputs we will experience that at some point at some time at some place…we just have to keep moving, striving, praying and working.