We’ve all heard the phrase that “life is a journey”. While the expression may seem over used, I think that it is no less accurate. Life is indeed a journey, full of exciting destinations, pleasant surprises, and unexpected (and not always pleasant) turns of events. Much like a journey, life is certainly not static. It is an exciting, dynamic and ever-changing ride.
Here’s a question regarding your journey through life: Who are you traveling with?
Have you ever thought about the people you’re doing life with as your traveling companions? I’ve been thinking about that this past week. Good traveling companions make good times even better. They also have a way of making difficult times less challenging, more bearable, and more hopeful, through their positive attitude, encouragement, or presence.
Our traveling companions can range from spouses and significant others to family members (like my sister), to friends, co-workers, brothers and sisters in faith, Jesus, or anyone who enhances our journey through life.
I believe it’s important to surround ourselves with good traveling companions as we go through life. I also think it is equally important to BE good traveling companions to those travel with us.
We’re fortunate that we have a great deal of choice regarding who our traveling companions are, and what kind of traveling companion we will be for others. Let’s seek to enhance our journey by choosing, and being, traveling companions people would like to have.
Here’s the worst kept secret in the whole world: Life is full of unexpected challenges. A single phone call or event can quickly change the course of our life. When the storms come, we need something to cling to that gives us hope, strength, and courage to face them. What we need is an anchor.
Our anchor is what gives us stability and calm in the midst of a storm. An anchor could anything from a person to a belief to art, or a number of other things. The list of potential anchors is endless.
Without an anchor to provide stability during a storm, we can easily feel overwhelmed and hopeless. This can be a great cause of fear and stress because in the midst of our storm we have nothing solid to hold on to. Nothing solid to give us hope. We are then thrown about by circumstance and emotion, which can be an unpleasant ride.
Do you know what your anchor is? Do you have an anchor ready for the storms that will ultimately arrive?
My anchor is Jesus. When a storm comes, and it recently has, Jesus is the anchor I cling to for tomorrow’s hope and today’s strength. For me, Jesus has proven a faithful and solid anchor through storms I’ve already faced. Does that mean that with Jesus every storm just magically goes away? Hardly! What it does mean that I’m not alone and that I can face the storm knowing that Jesus is my anchor and that he’ll see me through.
What will you cling to during life’s next storm? Again, do you know what your anchor is?
If you don’t, I’d urge you to consider Jesus. A more solid anchor you will not find.
Imagine you went to the doctor for a routine checkup and it was determined that you had cancer. Now consider how you’d like to receive this news from the doctor? Which delivery would you prefer?
- “You have cancer.”
- “The lab results came back showing some cancer cells.”
While some people would prefer the directness of the 1st delivery, to me this would feel like a punch in the gut. Those 3 words would leave me feeling overwhelmed, incapacitate, and hopeless. Personally, I like the 2nd delivery because it doesn’t cause my thinking to instantly shut down to process what I’ve been told. While the news is still shocking, it feels more like a fire cracker going off versus a bomb.
Now I’m not saying that the second response is the better of the 2 (for me it is), but I am saying that the words we use matter in how we communicate with each other. Our words do more than just convey information. They demonstrate our caring, compassion, and concern for the other person, or even (perhaps unintentionally) a lack of it.
I’m reminded that our words have an impact others. And while there are many words we can use to communicate a point, for me, I want to ensure that the impact of my words on others is positive.
This is a great time of year! While Christmas and New Year are winding down, there’s another aspect of late December that really gets me excited. That is the fact that the days are starting to get longer.
After the winter solstice and a hardy farewell to the holidays, I start thinking ahead to the warmer and sunnier days of spring and summer that are just around the corner. My mind is increasingly filled with thoughts of hiking, fly fishing, picking berries, and just being outside enjoying warmer brighter days.
There’s something about being outside in a naturally scenic place on a sunny day that I find invigorating. I spend most of my work week indoors, so I’m excited for any opportunity to break out of the climate-controlled environment and breathe some fresh air. I always feel charged up after enjoying a sunny day outside.
One of my goals for the upcoming year is to spend more time outside. In 2018 I took far fewer hiking and fishing trips than I would have liked, and I could tell a difference. For me, it’s much easier to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the dark dreary winters of the Pacific Northwest if I’ve spend quality time outside the previous spring summer and fall.
What charges you up? Perhaps it’s time outside for you as well, or maybe it’s something totally different. Whatever it is, make sure you’re setting aside time for it versus just assuming it’s going to happen.
I like being busy. Not busy just for the sake of being busy, but busy doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling. To me, life is more fun when our days are full of activities that give us purpose. However, it’s crucial that we remember to make time for those important things that can easily get lost or overlooked in the midst of our day-to-day busyness.
Some important things are extremely easy to put off because of how busy we are. Consider how easy it is to tell ourselves, “When I’m not so busy I need to:”
- Make time to connect with my friend…
- Schedule that annual checkup or routine medical screening
- Start exercising daily
- Begin saving for the future
- Make some healthy changes to my diet
- Pursue that goal or dream of mine
Our intentions are to do these important things, but the reality is that they often get forgotten or pushed out because we are busy. The reality is also that putting off these things could have significant negative consequences if they are neglected too long. Those consequences could be things like:
- The drifting a part of a once great friendship
- A once easily preventable/treatable condition has turned into a full blown medical emergency
- Our health has deteriorated
- Our lifestyle will drastically change, because we don’t have the resources we need for the future
- Our goals and dream go unrealized
All because we are too busy to address them today.
Let’s make sure we’re not being so busy today that we neglect the things that will lead to a fulfilling and healthy future.
Many of the choices we make don’t require a great deal of thought. For example deciding what you’re going to wear today, what you’re having for dinner, or where you want to go on vacation this year, while important, are not life changing decisions. If, in fact, you do make a bad decision in one of these areas, the consequences are pretty insignificant. (Your life isn’t going to change a great deal if you had chicken for dinner instead of salmon!) However, for those decisions where the stakes are much higher, we must make sure we’ve gathered sufficient information and given ample thought to our decision before we pull the trigger.
One of the most important decisions we make is the primary person we decide to do life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a life partner, or significant other, this person will have a very substantial role and impact in our life. As such, this type of relationship should be entered into slowly. Only after we’ve gathered significant experiences and information about the other person are we about to make a good decision.
If you’re currently in the process of making this decision about someone, before you decide, you should have answers to the following questions:
- Do you know what your own goals and dreams are and what you, specifically, want out of life?
- What are the other person’s goals and expectations from life? Do they align with yours?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits and attributes you’re looking for in another person?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits you are unwilling to settle for in another person?
- How does this person align with the previous 2 questions?
- No, really! How do they align?
- What’s their worldview and outlook on life?
- How does the other person handle conflict?
- How do they handle money?
- How do they treat other people?
- How do they treat you?
- How do they respond when life gets tough?
- What guides them in how they make decisions and live their life?
The only way you will get answers to these questions is through conversation and time together. Lots of time together, so don’t be in a big hurry. The questions above are a list you can check off in a weekend, a week, or month. To really answer these questions, I think it’s important to observe someone for at least a year, if not longer.
Nothing will affect the quality of your life more that the primary person you decide to do life with, so spend the time to seriously answer these questions, lest you rush into a bad decision.
Imagine you were going to build a house (or have someone build it for you), but you had no idea what kind of house you wanted. You didn’t know how many rooms or bathrooms it should have, how many square feet it should be, where it should be located, or even how much it should cost. It would be impossible for anyone to build the house you wanted, with such lack of direction. In this scenario, at best, you’d have to settle for whatever got built.
It’s like that with our lives as well. If we don’t have any idea what we’d like our lives to look like, we’ll have to settle for how they just turn out. For example, do you know:
- What kind of health you want to be in
- What kind of marriage you want to have
- What kind of career you desire
- What interests and passions you’d like to pursue
- How you’d like to spend your retirement
- What kind of relationships you’d like to have with friends and family
- How you’d like to spend your free time
When we know what we want our life to look like, we’re in an excellent position to take steps to create the best life we desire. Otherwise, we’ll just settle for whatever happens to come along.
Do you have a clear picture of how you want your life to look? This doesn’t mean you have to have every detail figured out. I certainly don’t! However, we should know what we want our lives to look like so we can take steps to move in that direction.
Make sure you know where you’re going, so you don’t end up somewhere you really don’t want to be.