It’s Okay

You’re feeling great, moving confidently in your purpose, passion burning, goals met, connections made. Everything is in motion. Then it all comes to an abrupt halt.

You’re feeling great, moving confidently in your purpose, passion burning, meeting goals, making connections.  Everything is in motion.  Then it all comes to an abrupt halt.  Something unexpected happens and no matter how you try to press on or press through you simply cannot. It’s impossible to move forward.

The block could come from financial struggles, health crisis (yours or a loved one’s), failure in a relationship, or even an unexpected global pandemic. Don’t panic.  It’s all going to be okay.

If your finances collapse and you need to take a job unrelated to your dream in order to stay on your feet– it’s okay.   

If you become physically or mentally unwell, and you need to take time to overcome it— it’s okay.

If someone you love is in crisis and you need to give them your time for a while—  it’s okay. 

If the world comes to a standstill and you don’t have it in you to figure out how to carry on with remote technology or without one-on-one connection or you feel stressed, overwhelmed– it’s okay.     

As someone who has faced each of these issues in the past few years, there were times when I thought if I wasn’t pushing towards my goals every moment then everything I had built so far was completely lost. But I discovered that when you are pursuing your true purpose, you do not have to blast your way through to it and struggle over every little move or lack of movement. Your true purpose will still be there when you are ready to get back into the swing of things. Don’t misunderstand me, building your life towards your purpose is hard work, there are times you have to fight your way towards your purpose, but you’ll never have to fight something into being your purpose. It’s a natural extension of yourself. It’s always been a part of you, will always been there waiting for you to discover/rediscover it. It will always be there for you. You’ll equip yourself for it again and pursue it. It may take a little extra time and effort to get it back to the shape where you left off, and it may not be going in exactly the same direction it once was, but it’s okay.

After the struggle, after the crisis, after the failure, after the pandemic, when you look up from the bottom and, if for some reason your purpose is NOT there, then it really wasn’t your purpose at all. And if it was not – it’s okay. Don’t get discouraged, just take time to regroup, rethink, restructure. And start again. It’s okay.

Your purpose does not depend upon any monetary condition, any state of health, the presence or absence of any person, or the condition of the world at large. Your purpose fits you no matter the shape of your life, no matter the shape of the world. It will be there when you get back. Don’t worry. It’s okay.

Waves of Change

There’s a different flavor to this entry – much more personally vulnerable than usual, but hopefully helpful to those facing a similar situation.

Alteration, modification, variation, transformation, adjustment, amendment. I like all of these words better than plain old “change”. More syllables somehow gives a sense of fluidity and even feels gentler verbalizing than the abrupt and harsh “change”.

I am facing unwanted, fast change in my life. I don’t mind things ebbing and flowing over the natural course of time. I don’t mind a surprise now and again. But massive, out-of-the-blue change – the kind that knocks you on your rear end and the breath out of your lungs? Or how about the baited change – when you expect one thing and get the other. Of those I’m not much of a fan.

You can utter all the platitudes, repeat all the affirmations, read all the quotes, get patted on the back by friends, and try to pick yourself up. And, most times, in your head you know that things will eventually smooth out and you’ll get back on track again.

Then there are those times when forced change can spin you into the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief. (Here’s a quick list so you don’t have to search: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.) I think there should be another step squeezed in there somewhere: being frozen.

For more than a few months now I have been going through a tough time spurred by a rising river of unwanted, uncontrollable change. I was expecting some change, but it came in greater number, speed, and force than I had prepared for. It spilled out of the river banks and wiped away the sandbags I had stacked around certain areas of my life. Nothing was protected. All I could do was stand there and watch it pour over me and around me and watch it carry everything in every area my life away with it. There has been nothing that hasn’t been affected. I haven’t really talked about it with anyone at any length and prayer bounces off the ceiling. Writer’s block has taken full root (this entry is one of maybe three things I’ve written in months). I put up a barricade by freezing myself from feeling anything or reacting to anything, relegating myself to a sort of half-life:  there physically but not emotionally.

Then last week, something sort of happened.  I continued to be deluged by unexpected blows and watching myself not responding. Maybe it was a “last straw” type of thing but when I received one certain piece of news I sunk down into the chair I was sitting in and thought to myself, “But I don’t want to be an empty shell person.” When you stop fighting all the changes, but not in a let’s-figure-this-out-and-move-on kind of way, then you allow the changes to beat you up and toss you emotionally and spiritually into nothingness. I’ve seen people like that. They’ve resigned themselves to victim status and accept whatever is thrown their way, thinking it is what they deserve, too worn out to hope for anything more. Their lights go out. And they never recover. I said, out loud, “I don’t want to be like that. I want to recover. I don’t want other people to face that, I want to help them recover before it’s too late.” And a little spark was lit. 

It wasn’t a blinding revelation, there was no instant transformation.  I still feel very deflated.  But there is a spark.  A lot of tears have blurred my eyes as I’ve written this entry. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen from here. I don’t know if Burn Bright will change (or even continue) as a blog or business. I don’t know where I’ll be living or working or worshipping or people I’ll hang out with, or activities I’ll participate in this coming year. But rather than roll up in a frozen ball and be tossed in the waves as the changes continue, I’m going to try to thaw, stretch out, bodysurf, and ride them to whatever shore they are taking me. 

Getting Out of Your Own Way – Part 3 of 6

In order to fully pursue the purpose God has placed on our lives, we are looking at how to avoid self-defeating behaviors.  Each week for six weeks we’re looking at one of the following:

To get out of you own way, you need to remember…

1. …your identity
2. …what you are doing
3. …your purpose
4. …the people
5. …to be strategic
6. …the outcome

This week:

REMEMBER YOUR PURPOSE

When people talk to me about feeling blocked or frozen in pursuing their purpose, about 99.9 percent of the time it boils down to having unfulfilled or distorted expectations of what the road to their purpose is supposed to look like. They have an idea in their heads of exactly how everything is supposed to be, forgetting that there are many ways an objective can be accomplished.  When their anticipation of a smooth, effortless sail into how they expect things to go doesn’t happen , they are caught up short.

They didn’t think they would have:

  • to work so hard
  • to pay out so much (financially or emotionally)
  • problems convincing others
  • to try things a different way
  • so much competition
  • to make hard decisions
  • to change priorities
  • to give up things they enjoy
  • people stab them in the back
  • people try to deceive them
  • people try to stop them
  • to face fears they didn’t know they had
  • problems in other areas of their lives
  • so many twists and turns and choices
  • to continually fight for what they truly want

They forget that their purpose is not about making them rich or well known or well respected, or making them/others feel good about themselves or their place in the world.

Our purpose is to know God and make Him known. (see this thought expanded in the “Purpose” section of my October 15, 2011 blog)

Many Plans

Next week:  REMEMBERING THE PEOPLE