Posts Tagged ‘ kick you ’

Living in the tension.

Probably my favorite poem right now is Rudyard Kipling’s “If.” It’s a few stanzas, has some clever rhymes, and has a pretty great rhythm. But more than that, it alludes to virtues that characterize great men – being honorable, taking risks, not complaining, being well-balanced, etc.

Every time I read that poem, my heartbeat picks up, and I feel that urge to embody each of the virtues mentioned. What’s more, I see the areas alluded to that I lack in my own life, and long to have more of that virtue in my life. What this poem, great preaching, and good friends do to me is remind me of the tension I think we all face: the tension between who we are and who we would like to be.

Whether your goals are financial, physical, spiritual, or in any other area, having them keeps that tension alive, and I think that’s a healthy tension to keep. Without it, I know I can easily become complacent, thinking I’ve done well enough and don’t need to keep pushing forward. I’ve been there, and it’s not a healthy way to be.

To progress, though, requires discipline, and that’s something not easily attained. It takes work, time, energy, commitment, dedication, sacrifice… and there are no shortcuts. You need to do the work, and you need to keep going when it gets difficult (perhaps especially when it gets difficult). And that’s something I think our generation needs to grasp (but that’ll get me started on a blog post for another day).

It’s a few months into 2014 now. Perhaps you’ve fallen on the wayside on some of the commitments you made at the beginning of the year. Perhaps you’ve gone back on some of your Lent commitments. What’s past is past.  Begin again today.

Decide today to get back in the fight with the Holy Spirit alongside.

Decide today to work hard and pray harder.

Decide today to stop making excuses. You can make excuses, or you can make progress.

Decide today to set and keep your priorities.

Decide today to take on the God-sized challenges you’ve been shying away from but that God has put in front of you.

Decide today to start becoming who God made you to be.

Punching out for true independence

In the spirit of Independence Day, I thought I’d write a little something about some thoughts I had this morning surrounding what I might consider true independence.

I have a pair of boxing gloves that I picked up a few years ago when some friends and I attended a Muay Thai class that required them. After that class ended, though, I didn’t really have much of a reason to use them, so they ended up collecting dust for quite a while. I would look at them every once in a while with longing, but without really the wherewithal to find and sign up for a gym where I could use them, they stayed neglected.

Last Sunday, I joined a new gym that will be more convenient and economical for me, since it has many locations and doesn’t charge extra for going to other locations. One big bonus I saw right off the bat is that the one closest to where I currently live has an area in the back for boxing. So the times I’ve been there this week, I went through a workout, then spent some time in the boxing area hitting the bag.

I’ve mentioned this to some friends already, but I do find this pretty therapeutic, as it’s a good way for me to channel frustration, since I tend to be pretty even-keeled in most situations. It’s good to get it out somehow, and I rather like taking it out on an inanimate punching bag. There are folks who choose to use people as punching bags, but that’s a whole other story I’m not trying to get into in this post.

I have found that when working out, channeling anger can help with adding adrenaline or something to enable me to do a little more than I could without that extra boost. I’ve seen this work sometimes with lifting, and it certainly helps with boxing. I find that I have more endurance and more force behind my punches when I can channel some anger into it.

In the interest of improving my boxing this morning, I started to think about situations that are causing me some frustration right now. I have to admit that channeling my thinking in that direction did help my game a bit, but it was temporary, because I couldn’t truly bring myself to be angry with people in my life. What happened next was interesting, though.

As I pondered on the things that were frustrating me, I took a step back mentally and looked up to see a mirror. In that moment, I realized that while I can choose to be angry with this or that person or be upset about this or that situation, the only influence I truly have is to change myself, and that is often the biggest obstacle. I realized there that my worst enemy aside from the devil himself is not someone or something outside of me, but myself – my pride, my sinful tendencies, my desire to do things my own way instead of submitting to Christ, my selfishness. So instead of thinking about a person or a situation to get mad about, I looked in the mirror and saw my worst enemy, and channeled my energy into beating him up.

Of all the things I tried to improve my boxing, I think that helped the most. Focusing on myself and my need to change, my need to be better and more Christ-like, that more than anything gave me fire to hit harder and faster.

Now to bring it back to true independence. As a Christian seeking to follow after Jesus wholeheartedly, I think the way we define true independence is the ability to deny ourselves and recognize our own sinfulness, and to deal with it harshly, while being gracious to others. It’s being ruthless with sin in our own lives and sorrowful over sin in the lives of others, but exhibiting grace in our interactions with others, as well as accepting God’s grace for ourselves. It’s refusing to allow people, situations, or things to affect our relationship with Jesus, and guarding that relationship above all else.

Just a few thoughts for this Independence Day. Now to TURN IT UP!

Things I wish I knew in college…

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a bunch of college students. Many of them attend my alma mater, where I volunteer with a campus ministry they’re involved with. Others I met through an Epic conference in January. Still others I’ve met through other means.

Students, this post is for you. It’s a list of things I wish I had known when I was in college. Hopefully it will be helpful for you.

  • Evernote is probably the best all-around software for taking notes and remembering things. Of course, Evernote may not have been around when I was in college, but go check it out! I’ve also written a Squidoo lens about why Evernote rocks.
  • Google Calendar is so key. Especially being able to share it with others.
  • Gmail is awesome, especially with the new Priority Inbox function, but to really hack your e-mail, play the E-mail Game.
  • Blogging is underrated. Maintaining a blog can be a great way to share insights with people, build community online and practice writing. Platform-wise, I think WordPress is great for customization, but Tumblr is great if you want to just get started with the basics. If you have some real value to share and are interested in making money from your writing, though, Squidoo is awesome for that.
  • Mac is great.
  • Reading the Bible consistently is challenging but very beneficial. Sign up for YouVersion to get on a plan and stay on it.
  • Consuming media is fun but often distracts you from what is much better.
  • Figuring out what you’re naturally good at is a challenging but worthy pursuit. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to do but one of the most important. Sadly, many don’t care to investigate this, and many of them don’t want you to either.
  • You become like the people you hang out with most. This is not meant to condemn. It’s just something you need to realize.
  • Mediocrity can get you by, but it will never get you where you want to go. I used to take pride in my mediocrity. That was unbelievably stupid.
  • Stop complaining. Hustle instead. You’ll grow and learn far, far more.
  • One of the hardest questions to ask yourself is, “What do I want?” Many don’t want to answer that question because they know they’re not doing anything to get there. Ask it. Answer it. Go get it.
  • If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll end up with what everyone else has.
  • Choose a major that will enhance and utilize your natural strengths, not one that will “guarantee” you a job (it won’t).
  • Find ways to get both inspiration and wisdom, and keep going back for more. Proverbs says this more eloquently. I will post a resource list soon and link it here.
  • Read this and share it with everyone you know who’s in school or working at a school.

What you don’t need

Considering a career change? Thinking of starting a business? Want to start a non-profit? Want to try something new at work? Great! What’s stopping you?

It’s so easy to convince ourselves that we need something to start working on our dreams and goals. There are a lot of things we can tell ourselves we need before we can start.

  • Funding
  • A chance
  • An opportunity
  • Permission
  • Approval
  • Buy-in
  • Support

What do all of these have in common? They depend on someone else (or many someones else).

But what if you had all the things you’re saying you need? What then? Would you really start, or would you find something else to wait on?

Pointing the finger at someone else may make you feel better (I know I did), but it doesn’t solve anything. So which do you prefer – feeling better about yourself or winning?

Stop waiting. No one’s going to just give you funding. Or a job. Or support. Asking for it is a step in the right direction, but more than that, you need to build a good case for it. You’re not owed anything.

The bad news – the only person stopping you is you. The good news – the only person stopping you is you.

Focus where it counts

We usually prefer to blame others for our shortcomings than take responsibility. Those “others” can be people close to us (I’m suffocated at work) or not (the government is holding me down). “Others” can also be circumstances – the economy sucks and nobody’s hiring; I don’t know the right people; I went to the wrong school…

There are basically two main arenas we can focus on in life – what we can’t control (the macro-economy; where we come from), and what we can (our skill set; where we choose to be).

When I focus on the stuff I can’t control, the result is a mix of depression, frustration and to an extent, entitlement. I get upset that I don’t have what I want and get in my head that I’m owed those things. Only problem, I’m the only one were of that debt, because I made it up.

But when I focus on what I can control, it can be scary, but it can be life-changing. It’s scary because it means I have to admit that I’ve been the cause of most of my problems. But once I admit that, I start getting myself out of the mess instead of complaining how dirty it is.

Where’s your focus? I can’t promise you life change if you focus on what you can control, but I can promise you no change if you focus on what you can’t.

Safety you can count on

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-7

I hear and think of this Scripture all the time. But how often am I truly living by it? If I’m honest with myself, not often. More often than not, I find myself walking by sight – that is, basing my view of reality on what I see in the world.

I don’t imagine I’m alone in this. I think we all find ourselves living this way. Once you start to ask “why?” in different areas of your life, you begin to uncover your worldview.

Now, it’s natural to respond primarily to what we perceive from the world. It’s essential to survival. If you see a car speeding your way, getting out of the way is the natural and right response.

But when it comes to the things we can’t see – the economy, greed, corruption, fear, etc. – I am tempted to again focus on what I can see. I’m tempted to focus on the outward visible results of these unseen forces instead of the spiritual source. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our enemy is not physical but spiritual. It’s the enemy we need to focus on, not the effects of his work.

Let’s stop basing our worldview on what we see. Let’s start basing it on what we know to be true, despite what we see.

Take the blame

I believe we live in a culture of blame. Everybody has someone to pin the blame on for their problems. Whether it’s in the media, at work, at home, or on the therapist’s couch, we spend a lot of time and energy looking for people to blame.

Now, there are times when others have violated the “human contract” and hurt us inequitably, but sometimes I think we try to outsource blame further than it needs to go. And the only person that harms is ourselves.

Part of the human experience that’s pretty inescapable is pain. Physical or emotional, deep-seated or in-the-moment, debilitating or silently throbbing, we all experience this at some point or another. If you’re not currently in some sort of pain, it’s probably not hard to remember the last time you were. But for those who are in painful situations today, perhaps it’s time for a paradigm shift.

Until we take responsibility and, yes, the blame for our part in landing us where we find ourselves (and our part may be bigger than we’d care to admit), we’re powerless to change our situation. After all, if outside powers put us where we are, it stands to reason that only those outside powers can rescue us out.

My major pain point over the past few years has been spending most of my time working in a capacity that doesn’t utilize the best of what I have to offer. Whether at the day job, at church, or in volunteer, I was engaged in many activities that didn’t tap into my areas of strength. I felt under-utilized and pretty lost.

At first, I wanted to blame everyone around me. Those whose influence pushed me to choose a major I didn’t like, take a job in that field, and even pursue a certification. Those who would tell me to learn to love my job. Those who would tell me not to pursue other dreams I’d had.

But eventually, I had to get to a place where I took responsibility for my part of the mess. I had to recognize that I was encouraged to enter the field I’m in because I wasn’t putting in the time to figure out what direction I wanted to take. I had unconsciously outsourced that major decision all those years ago, and I’ve been paying for it ever since.

The perpetrator of all my problems has always just been me. I’m the reason I work in a field I don’t love and am growing to despise. The main and possibly only person to blame is me.

But if I caused the pain, I can get rid of it too. If I’m the problem, I can be the solution too. And all the help in the world can’t do a thing for me if I won’t be.

What’s a pain point in your life today? Have you been outsourcing the blame? How can you take responsibility for the problem and start being the solution?