It seems like we’re always struggling with some area of our lives. We struggle to lose more weight. We struggle to do more meaningful and important work. We struggle to make more money (lots more!). We struggle to be better partners and stellar parents. We struggle to be more productive with our time and not waste it. The struggle is real and for most of us it feels natural. But is it?
Does water struggle to flow?
Does grass struggle to grow?
Does wind struggle to blow?
Does rain struggle to fall?
Does the sun struggle to shine?
Of course not! So why do we struggle to succeed?
Have you ever noticed that some trees just don’t seem to let go of their leaves? I mean, it’s not like they don’t know the winter is coming and is almost completely upon us. Am I right? But still they hold tight to their last few leaves, waiting for that moment that makes it absolutely necessary for them to completely enter in their season of darkness. It makes me wonder, are we not also the same way? Do we not also have leaves (old growth) that need to die in order for new life to spring forth after a season of winter?
This picture was taken just outside my home on my morning walk. I took it because it struck me just how important the lesson was that nature is trying to teach us if we’ll only be present enough to listen.
The answer, of course, is yes. Winter is a season that reminds us that it’s time to let go of our old leaves so that new life can emerge from within us.
Another normal day, another senseless tragedy. 20,000+ people gathered in Las Vegas to enjoy a music festival and none were aware there was a madman getting ready to shower bullets on them from 32 stories above. 58 people dead. 500+ people injured. The numbers are hard to fathom. The video is difficult to watch. The stories are hard to hear. The mind rushes to make sense of something that’s senseless. And once again our “thoughts and prayers” go out to the victims go out to all those affected. How long to sing this song? How long before we wake up to random acts of kindness on our news feeds instead of random acts of violence? How long before we embrace the responsibility that comes with the freedom we say we cherish? How long?
The shooter opened fire on a crowd of 20,000 attending a concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, NV
That rhetorical question was sung by U2 when they recorded their album “War” in 1982. Bono asked, “How long must we sing this song?” in the lyrics of the opening track “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, and then closed the album with the song “40” by asking, “How long to sing this song?” It’s a great question. One that was asked in response to their witness of human violence. One that has yet to receive a definitive answer from us. It’s a challenge to sing a new song. And it’s a call to the depths of our souls to find better answers when man-made tragedies occur.
I’ve been on a hiatus from publishing on my blog for over a year now and a LOT has happened since. So much, in fact, that I’m not completely sure where to start telling the story. So I’ll start with the biggest and most profound change I experienced…I turned 40.
40, right?! When I was young this seemed so old. Now that I’m here, it doesn’t feel old at all. In fact, I only just now feel like I’m hitting my stride. Of course, I’m also just now starting to wake up with sore muscles and weird injuries that seemingly occurred in my sleep (why didn’t anyone tell me about this?) as well as a few gray hairs that my kids (who, by the way, are now old enough to talk back, make logical arguments, and cuss in context) are all too happy to point out to me. 40 feels like it snuck up on me.
We all feel dead sometimes. Lifeless, discouraged, maybe even depressed. These feelings are our soul’s response to disappointment. Something in our lives didn’t turn out quite like we’d planned and now the force of life that once flowed in us and through us feels painfully absent.
I recently battled these feelings after the release of my first book, “Your Best Is Next.” I didn’t know it at the time, but during the writing process my subconscious was forming an expectation of how I was going to be treated after I’d published. I thought that I’d release the book and I’d be selling copies to everyone on my list (that didn’t even come close to happening), that my phone would be ringing constantly from journalists that wanted to interview me (nope, not even once), and that my book would open doors for more speaking engagements so that I could share my message with established audiences (you guessed it…nada).
I became really discouraged by what wasn’t happening. I stopped writing on my blog (as you may know). I stopped leaving my house to work and isolated myself. I started eating lots of junk food to make myself feel better but it only made me feel worse! I was completely lost in my own sorrow and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like creating. I didn’t feel like writing. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.
So what do we do when our dreams are unfulfilled? How do we act when what once brought us so much joy now brings us so much pain? What can we do to snap out of our dead moment and bring our hearts back to life?
The answer comes from the central figure in human history and what the pattern of his miraculous life teaches us about restoring the life to our own.