2017 started like a movie for me. A bad movie. And I’ve been the reluctant actor in this unwanted drama.
In about 100 hours, I’ve spent more time than I love in two of my least favorite places- the hospital and the police station. It’s been a turbulent mix of deep peace, utter shock, strong faith, high hopes, raw desperation, great joy, real frustration and bristling anger. I kid you not.
To protect certain identities, permit me to skip the details and head on straight to the lessons the first 5.8 days of the new year have taught me.
1. Live Ready
Life happens suddenly. Good or bad, events pounce on us and in microseconds, whatever is really inside, spills. Here’s the thing- no matter who or what we claim to be, the spill reveals the true content. That’s why it’s important to consciously load up on the right stuff because life’s exams have no timetable. They just show up like your maths teacher and announce, “tear out a sheet of paper!”. You want to make sure you ace that test; that when you’re squeezed in the day of trial, you ooze wisdom, faith and pure power. Decide today. This year, it’s okay to get ready- but way better to just live ready instead.
2. Nurture Support Systems
Recently, I read a book where the author challenged readers to mention any major achievement in history that was pulled off entirely by just an individual. He posits there’s none and I stand with him. Take a closer look and you’ll find that even the so-called lone ranger success stories aren’t exactly all alone. There’s always someone else, maybe a sidekick working behind the scene, providing support. Life wasn’t designed to be lived alone and the best of it will not be found on solitary pathways. Being quite independent by nature, the last few days have forced me to confront and submit again to this truth- I need others. We all do. Consciously surround yourself with meaningful friendships and relationships. You’ll need it over the next twelve months. Just one thing – remember that the best time to make friends is before you need them.
3. Forgiveness- cheap talk, hard work
These days, I’m increasingly hesitant to talk about what I’d do in hypothetical situations. I’ve found that most of those words are just hot air. When hurt really cuts to our hearts and we’re pained to our bones, “Father, forgive them” is the last thing after the last thing on our natural minds. We want vengeance. We want them to hurt as well- maybe a little more. Maybe much more even. Jesus try sha! And that’s exactly who we need in those moments when we’re choking with venom and bile- we need Jesus to touch our hearts in ways that no words can fully describe and dissolve all the ugly stuff within. But we must invite Him to do that work. As we admit our inability to let go by ourselves but sincerely invite Him, he doesn’t disappoint. His work within makes genuine forgiveness both possible and pleasurable. Ask me how I know this.
4. Look again. There’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
When we experience sudden loss, it’s hard to see any thing worth appreciating in that moment. But staring into the smoldering rubble, we find that maybe all was not lost afterall. It may not be what we wished for but it could have been worse. Really. And because it isn’t, we should be thankful. It’s hard. Believe me, I know how dry it feels to scan the wreckage, looking for just one thing to be grateful for. But its always there. And that sense of gratitude becomes the first step towards recovery. Wallowing in your loss may seem justified but that’s not how you want to live, right? You want wholeness, restoration and progress. Gratitude, even for the leftovers is a powerful start to the journey. I know because I’m on that road too.
The year is barely seven days old and who’d have thought it’d start like this. I sure wouldn’t have scripted it this way but I am reminded of a powerful truth, that had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory*. I am determined that the very things that came to crush me will be captured and converted into rocket fuel for stratospheric progress this year.
It may have started like a bad movie but there’s a plot twist just up ahead. Guess what? I’ve peeked into the masterscript- it’s a happy ending.
Cheers to life!
Live by Design.
*1 Corinthians 2:8 (KJV)