My birthday is once again rolling around, and it’s time to reflect back on the lessons I’ve learned in my nearly 47 years on this planet. The other day I was going for a walk and thinking about life and all the ups and downs I’ve had. In a way, this blog has been a place for me to bear my soul about those ups and downs. When I’ve struggled, I’ve shared it. When life gives me a reason to celebrate, I share that. I haven’t often held back from revealing my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I haven’t been afraid to communicate my weaknesses and struggles. It’s not that I like making myself vulnerable for the sake of being vulnerable. Rather, it’s in the hope that what I write impacts someone for good and makes life a little more bearable for them.
Anyway, when I was walking, I thought about all the lessons I’ve learned in this life and how each year I’ve grown, not only a little older, but wiser, too. And I wondered if I can make this next year of life the very best as I put into practice all the things I’ve learned, including:
How to put others interests before my own and love unconditionally; A cord of Three Strands
How to parent in faith not in fear; Feelings Nothing More Than Feelings
How to face the fears in my life; The Truth About Fear
How much I’m loved by my Father in Heaven; Adored
How to be vulnerable and real with people; A Good Story
How to turn my weaknesses into strengths; Slowly By Drops
How to carry on even in the darkest of times; These Three Remain
These are just a handful of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. It’s nice to know I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, or even last week. That’s what’s great about growing in Jesus. You’re constantly being shaped into the person your soul was meant to be.
In this New Year, I challenge you to do the same. However old you might be, whatever roads you may have traveled, reflect on all the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Then determine to live your best year yet. 'Til next time.
The other night I had another dream that just may be a game changer for me. I know that might sound weird, that a dream could change your whole life, but I believe in some ways it may just save me from something that has held me captive for far too long, FEAR. Even as I write this fear is nibbling at the corners of my mind, trying to hold me captive in its grasp. I’m not good enough. My words don’t matter, People will think I’m weird for what I’m writing. These and so many thoughts like it have haunted me, hunted me down for most of my life.
I wonder if you have any fears or thoughts that are holding you captive. You’re not good enough, you’re incompetent, you’re a fool. You’re unworthy. You’re not lovable. Well, in the hopes that what I dreamt might be a game changer for you, too, I’m going to share what has given me so much hope these last couple of days.
This is how the dream went. This is why it was so powerful to me. It was a simple dream as dreams go. Didn’t last too long, but when I woke from it it was like someone had turned a lightbulb on for me. I dreamt that I was in a house and something or someone was trying to get at me. Even in my dream, I remember being afraid. So what did I try to do? What every other human being on the planet does I believe when they’re afraid, I tried to barricade myself away from it. I was locking doors in an attempt to keep “IT” out.
Then something occurred to me; no matter how hard I tried I was not going to be able to keep it out. It was too powerful. All my defenses were no match for it. In that moment, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe instead of barricading myself away, I just need to face it.’ And that’s what I did. I opened the door and shouted, “I’m not afraid of you.” And that’s when I woke up. That simple dream, that profound dream hit me at just the right time.
I have some tough situations I’m facing at work right now. I won’t go into detail, but they are challenging me like nothing ever has before and many times this year, I’ve found myself cowering in fear because of them. And then, the other day, while dealing with one of those situations, that dream flitted like a butterfly in front of me. I thought, what am I so afraid of, why am I so afraid. Why don’t I just face this thing head on.
So I did. I faced my fears, some that have been with me for so long. I’m not good enough. What I do won’t work. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m incompetent, incapable. And maybe in some way, some of those things are true, but the thing is God never asked us to be perfect, He has that perfection thing down for us, I think he simply asks that we fling the doors that hold us back and face our fears head on.
I don’t have to hide from fear and neither do you. You don’t have to lock yourself away from it. You don’t have to cower or struggle to get out of its mighty grip. Simply face it. Meet it straight on and watch it dissipate before your very eyes.
I think part of the thing about fear is that it makes us think we’re not strong enough to deal with it. Picture it this way. Someone has taken the chains off of you; something that has been holding you captive possibly your whole life but instead of running free getting out of that cell, you stay frozen, afraid of the possibility that you might be captured again.
Let me assure you of this. Someone has come who has set you free. Rather than being afraid I think he wants you to enjoy the freedom he won for you - to simply run out of or away from whatever has held you captive most of your life. It seems so simple but then why is it so hard to do?
The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear and I’ve always wondered what that meant. Well, last night I had another dream that reminded me, while I may still face this foe FEAR, I no longer be held captive by it. The dream went this way. Someone was approaching me and I knew he meant to do me harm, I sensed that. Meanwhile someone else was watching me and I was waiting for that person to rescue me. Then something took hold of me, a strength I didn’t realize I had. Before I knew it I had wrestled this being who was trying to hurt me to the ground and had him pinned. I had defeated him and then just like that he was gone.
The thing is, I don’t believe that I’m never going to be afraid again, fear will always be crouching in the corner ready to pounce, but now I know with certainty, I don’t have to let it win. I can fling the doors wide open and meet it head on. I hope these dreams and simple stories will help you with the fears you face. Until next time.