It's easy to forget what a miraculous gift we have in this thing called life. We are alive, we are breathing, we have options, we have opportunities.
Yes, we also have challenges and hardship.
We can't control what others do to us, or what obstacles we may face. But we can control how we deal with them. We can control our mindset, our resilience, our faith in our ability to overcome even the most challenging of circumstances.
We've all been given the same gift. We don't all experience the human condition in the same way. Some of us are more fortunate than others. Some of us are lucky enough to start our lives in a place where we don't have to worry about food, shelter, water, safety. Others of us will struggle to survive from the moment we are born.
For those who have the luxury of being able to function past the level of sheer survival, we face other challenges. We must choose. We must choose what we do with our talents, our gifts. We must choose to view the world in its infinite potential, or instead choose to focus on all that is wrong.
I had the chance to reconnect with an old friend recently, and was reminded of how important choices are. My friend and her husband have a special needs child. A beautiful boy who has suffered pain and hardship that you wouldn't wish on anyone, and my friend and her husband have suffered through every moment with him.
However, they have also made choices. They have chosen to move forward in life, dealing with the things that are out of their hands with a sense of humor and grace. Knowing they can't control their son's health, but they can control their own. They can't control the things that have gone wrong. They can control their mindset in how they deal with those things. I heard such strength in her voice as she described their experiences, her hopes and dreams for the future. And though there are things about her life that she would change if she could, she chooses not to focus on what is out of her hands. She chooses instead to focus on all of the many things that she can affect, influence and pursue.
She has chosen to focus on her potential. And her choice is everything.
That doesn't mean it's easy. That doesn't mean it's not scary. That doesn't mean she doesn't have hard, sad, frustrated days. It means that she is choosing not to let those moments be her focus. She is choosing instead to put her energies towards the things she can do, the into the things she can influence, the things that have the potential to transcend her challenges.
We can all go down the rabbit hole of hand-wringing and fretting about all the things in our lives that are not going our way. But the joy to be found is never in the worrying, and it is never in self-pity or fear. Joy comes from being fully engaged in the moment you are in, and in surrendering your need to control the uncontrollable, and instead see the potential of everything else.
"If you are destined for something more, that "more" will only happen because you throw yourself into whatever it is you're doing. This will always involve humbling yourself and doing whatever is in front of you...the thing that unites the people i know who are on satisfying and meaningful paths is that they kept trying things, kept exploring, kept pursuing new opportunities.. you explore the possibilities because you can't steer a parked car" (Rob Bell, How to Be Here)
We sometimes hold back from engaging whole-hardheartedly with our lives because we live in fear of the failure our choices could bring. But our failures are arguably the most important component of living a full and dynamic life. Each day presents an opportunity to more fully embrace this life, as each day matters.
We are only stuck if we allow ourselves to be. If we are stuck it is because we have forgotten how lucky we are to even be here at all.
Sometimes a re-frame is all we need to get moving again. We have more control than we give ourselves credit for.
Boredom, despair and pessimism disconnect us from the fact that we are walking, talking, breathing miracles...even on the worst of our days.
We all have the opportunity to make choices in our lives which will lead us to the highest expression of ourselves, regardless of the specific challenges and hardships we must deal with.
Don't live by default. Don't be defined by the things that are wrong, or didn't work out, or never came through. Live instead for all the choices you CAN make.
Live in the spirit of possibility and open yourself to the white space of potential. Much like a sculpture sees his masterpiece inside a block of marble, we need to teach ourselves to see the hidden potential in our lives that may be covered up with our frustrations or challenges.
It's the muscle of possibility that we need to strengthen, and in doing so our options can expand beyond our wildest expectations.
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