It’s that time again. A new year is upon us, time for reflections, new resolutions, plans, and goals.
New years are like new days. They are here for a while and then they are gone. Life doesn’t stop for us to make up our minds and decide what we want. It simply goes on. Life is a series of decisions. Decisions, unlike choices, are commitments that pre-determine the answer, long before it presents itself. If you are like many, the journey of life may not have brought you to places you originally planned on going. The travels down life’s lonesome highways may “feel right” at times. Then, just when you think you are headed in the direction that leads to your hearts desires, you realize the road you are on has brought you to the land of no where, or worse yet, a place you didn’t want to go at all.
The direction we are headed is based on a series of decisions we have made. Bad decisions, bad paths. Good decisions, good paths. Paths determine the direction of our lives. For the most part, you can predict the destination based on the path you are on. Regardless of IQ, education, goals in life, net worth, physical appearance, the club or church you belong to, you end up where the road have chosen leads. If you are like the majority of us, you have taken the wrong path at one time or the other. Paths that lead to failure, temporary defeat and heartache. Paths that litter the very landscape of our lives.
Maybe your life is going well for you right now. On the other hand, if you are like millions of others, your life may not be going in the direction you originally planned. Perhaps you just had a divorce, lost a loved one, had a financial crisis, experienced a physical or legal set back, were laid off or fired from your job, had a relationship break up, or some other temporary defeat that has you spiraling out of control with no where to turn, little hope of restoration and no foreseen way to turn it all around. It has been said that when a student is ready the teacher will come. It’s a new year, time for a fresh start and the decision to let go of yesterday, open up your heart and be willing to make the necessary steps that will assist you in turning your life around.
In addition to being a heath care provider, I have been actively involved in the personal development industry for most of my adult life attending seminars, reading literally hundreds of books as well as listening to and meeting some of the most well known speakers of their time. Over the years two things have become very evident to me. First, failure and temporary defeat are part of the journey to finding true success and second, when the going gets tough and we fall the hardest, all the king’s horses and all the kings men can’t put you back together again. At that point, it is strictly up to you.
It is no surprise that the decisions made today will have a dramatic effect on life tomorrow. In retrospect, I realized it was those decisions, although unintentional, that caused much of the pain, grief and failures I experienced for so many years. After experiencing success on many levels, at one point in time I recall my life spinning so far out of control I felt as if I were sailing the seas of life without a sail, running toward an unknown destination. I gained temporary traction along the way only to lose it and slide backwards farther than I climbed. Frustrated and dissatisfied with my progress I began seeking answers. The kind that brings you victory in the midst of adversity and deliverance from the mental, physical and spiritual bondage that imprisons you from becoming all you are capable of being.
Nothing is more precious or valuable than the life we have been given. It is our responsibility to live it to its fullest, successfully and with a definite purpose. I, like others, have had my share of temporary defeats that make you want to give up on life and believe there is no hope for restoration. Painful defeats.
No one said life is fair. Unfortunately, bad things do happen to good people. Although we can’t change the events that come our way, we can influence the outcome by changing our response. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. We have a personal freedom to decide whether we will respond positively or react negatively to the situation at hand. If you do what comes naturally in the face of difficulties, you may fall prey to negativism. Deciding to respond positively will increase the odds of your success, not to mention lessen your stress level significantly.
The world is full of defeat, negativity, financial crisis, fighting, war, anger, hate, resentment and fear. Although there is nothing you can do directly to affect these emotions or other people, there is something you can do about you. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” We have no control over the events of our lives but we do have control over ourselves. It is important to understand that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will begin to change. Change starts with us and by changing ourselves we, in turn, influence those around us thus creating an “indirect change” in others. Change can happen within when we make a conscious decision to commit to a plan of action, making the necessary sacrifices and following a plan through to fruition.
If you are living with pain, unforgiveness or misery over a decision you made in the past (intentional or not), remember this…your life is not over. You have a fresh start. Today is a new day. You can be restored. You can be mentally, physically and spiritually fit again. You can reshape your life.
There is no easy way to the top. No short cuts, no gimmicks and no magic pill exist that will “make it all better.” As the late Jim Rohn once said, “You can’t hire someone else to do your push ups for you.” There is, however, a real solution but you must make up your mind to accept it in full faith, take action, and keep your eyes looking ahead.
Ask yourself these few questions: If you are not at peace with your life now, what are you presently doing different that will cause that to change? What would you attempt with your life if you knew you could not fail? Do you feel you were called to a great but perhaps risky adventure? What is holding you back from pursuing it? Author Myles Munroe once said, “The wealthiest spot on this planet is in your local cemetery.” Beneath the graves of so many, lie broken dreams, inventions that were never pursued, love that never found its way to another accepting heart, and eternal epitaphs cluttered with emptiness. I can’t speak for you, but I don’t want to be one of those that didn’t live life to its fullest. I want to live full and die empty. My desire is for my candle to burn ever so bright until the very end and flicker out just before I meet my Maker.
As Napoleon Hill once said, “Faith is the beginning of all great achievement.” Fear, on the other hand, is inverted faith. It is faith turned upside down. Life giants (fears) come in all shapes and sizes preventing us from growing, doing and becoming. Fear is the thief of life’s dreams.
By making the right decisions we can truly reshape our lives and develop our strength, internal fortitude and endurance. We can rebound. I have witnessed misguided beliefs and fear engulf people like a wolf in sheep’s clothing until they finally give up and give in. When self-confidence and self-respect are lost, hope begins to fade also. Our churches are doing the best they can but many are failing miserably. Those teaching a fear-based message hang hell and condemnation over the heads of the ones subject to their message causing them to give up on faith altogether. Many of today’s “Life Coaches”, “Transformational Coaches” and personal development or spiritual “Guru’s” are also failing in their messages. They are afraid to get off the fence and stand for truth. In turn, they become swallowed up with the masses and ultimately drown in the rivers of acceptance.
John 8:32 tells us that truth is the key to freedom. One of the main truths in the history of creation is that God is love. He sent us love in the form of grace and all we have to do is accept it. Once you grasp that fact and realize that you are loved beyond measure, nothing, or no one can take that away from you. When that truth is etched in your DNA, you will begin to see positive change in your life. Voids will be filled, hurts of the past erased, self-confidence returned, and hope resurrected. I believe you can win in life because I believe you were born to win. I believe you can reshape your life and your best days are still ahead of you. Most importantly, the Creator of the universe believes in you. No matter what you have been through, or are going through now, there is hope for your restoration to a bigger, more abundant and vibrant life than ever before.
As you reflect on your own life in this upcoming year, may the truth set you free, may fretfulness fade away, and may fear plummet, while faith takes over, thereby rendering you victorious in your pursuit to finish strong and experience true, unfathomable peace in your life.
Happy New Year and May God bless.