Over the past few months I have had to deal with some physical issues that have led to the doctors putting a lot of limits on what I can and cannot do. I’m the type of person who loves being around others and usually hates having to depend on others for anything. In fact, for the last 5 years I’ve generally faced life with a “God and I can do anything” attitude, staying strong for my kids, family, and friends. So when the doctor said, “ You can’t drive for at least 2-3 weeks. You can’t lift heavy objects or even walk without being attached to a tank of oxygen,” it kind of threw me for a loop.
At first, I was tempted to go into a dark place, feeling sorry for myself and wondering how on earth I was going to get my kids to and from school, pay bills (without working), and basically keep life going at all. I felt like I was being given a sentence of isolation and being punished for something I had done. Fortunately, I had friends and family that reminded me of some things I learned through my experience with The Journey Training.
In The Journey Training I learned that I always have a choice and I was challenged to see circumstances that I face from a different perspective. Even the Bible says, “My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways…” (James 1:2) In every situation, we have a choice on how we view it and respond to it.
I was seeing the restrictions placed on me by the doctors as a sentence of isolation and a form of punishment. I was dwelling on the fact that I couldn’t get out and do all the things that I enjoyed and be around those that added to my happiness. I saw myself as weak, stuck in the house, alone and broken.
As I was talking to a friend about my situation, they gave me a different perspective that I could possibly choose to see. They brought to my attention that there are people who pay large amounts of money to go someplace where they can be alone, have time away from everything and to refocus. They told me that I was being given this kind of opportunity for free.
A light bulb went off in my head and made me say “hmmmm”. How could I look at my situation differently than a sentence of isolation? How could I turn this situation into a window of opportunity? What could I do during this time of limitation that would take me closer to my dreams after this season of rest was over?
As I contemplated these questions and realized, I actually had a choice, new thoughts came to me. I could: spend more time with God, journal about where I wanted the next phase of life to look like, allow myself to get the rest I needed to heal properly, spend time dreaming more, and a multitude of other things. Instead of focusing on the “bars on the prison window”, I could focus on the light of the sun that was shining through it and all that the light could possibly represent.This brightened my attitude, increased my energy level and allowed me to enjoy the season I was in instead of dreading it.
What are you facing right now? Are things that are beyond your control placing limits on what you can do? How can you turn your focus from the prison bars to the sunshine? The Journey Training and the friends I made there have truly changed my life and given me tools that help me in everyday life continue to reach for my dreams and actually live life rather than just exist in it.
Have you heard something like, “It’s better to give someone a hand up than a handout”? Well, contrary to societal opinion, it’s not a mean or cruel statement. It’s wisdom, because it strikes at the heart of human nature. Sure, there are times to give freely to people in need because we’ve been so blessed. I believe we’re called do so and I bet you do just that. But, when I put my hand out—feeling entitled, deserving, and play the victim—there are clear consequences:
- I become lazy
- I get angry
- I fail to contribute
- I don’t serve
- I stop learning
Let’s look at these briefly.
- I become lazy.
If I am handed stuff, why sweat, labor, and toil? Even though we were created to create and designed to work, any person given all he or she needs will find the path of doing nothing an easy one to tread. I simply become lazy.
- I get angry.
When I believe I’m entitled and then don’t get “what I deserve,” my thoughts are, Hey, not fair! and Why would they do this to me!? And because thoughts drive feelings, the output can only be one thing: Now I’m mad! Anger is generally an unhealthy place to be, serving none of us well.
- I fail to contribute.
There’s not a “motivational speaker” who hasn’t said, “What goes around comes around!” and “To get you must first give!” Well, no matter your view of these sweaty people on the platform, they’re right. It’s just the way the world works. It’s forever true: we reap what we sow. Truly, when my hand is out, I’m not using it, nor my feet, energy, or talent to add value to anyone else’s life. Fail!
- I don’t serve.
This sounds like contribution, but it comes before. Contribution is the result; service is the act. The act of serving feeds our soul, ignites our spirit, and creates joy–in us. When engaged in victim thinking, there’s about zero chance I’ll be serving and thus contributing to anyone–not even myself.
- I stop learning.
If I am lost in the forest, have never been a Boy Scout and want to survive, I would have to learn and learn fast! There would be no time for the traps victim thinking leads to: complaining, blaming, and procrastinating. I would work–intensely—to find food, water, and shelter. I may lack the skills, but the desire to learn would envelope me. If you hand me all that I need to make it, I would learn nothing.
So honest question: Have you ever found yourself in any of these places?
Prior to coming to The Journey Training I was irritable, controlling and severely discontented; I didn’t know what I wanted but I knew something needed to change. My life was steeped in fear coupled with the incessant need to please others; yet I remained empty with no direction or end in sight. As I mentioned previously, I needed something but I didn’t know what “it” was or how to achieve it, let alone discover it. Pretty hopeless, huh? Yes, I was.
When I entered the rooms of the Journey Training, I immediately saw beautiful and handsome faces to which I concluded “surely they wouldn’t be able to relate to an ex-convict and recovering drug and sex addict.” After all, they looked so pristine and trouble free I thought, but I was soon to discover that my terminal uniqueness was soon to be replaced with a sense of brotherhood and community I had longed for my entire life: the desire to be accepted and loved for who I was, not the illusory of what I assumed others wished or wanted me to be. I was in for a rude and revolutionary awakening. One that would ultimately provide me with a wealth of information and tools to help me discover my “it” in a real and meaning way which up to this point had been elusive.
In his book A New Pair of Glasses Chuck C. provides a very simple philosophy which is reminiscent of the Journey Training, consider now, “uncover, discover, and discard.” Unbeknownst to me I had no idea what I had gotten myself into because that is exactly what I experienced during that life changing weekend. So what does that look like, you might ask? Let’s consider them one at a time, shall we?
This is a frightening prospect for a chronic people pleaser like myself, but if I was going to begin a journey of health, wholeness and emotional sobriety this was where “it” had to begin. Imagine being in a room filled with virtual strangers, not to perform but to uncover making one’s self vulnerable, naked and exposed with no figs to cover a lifetime of hidden shame and guilt. Through clenched fists, a churning stomach and tear filled eyes, I did something I had never done before: I trusted someone other than myself with the truth of who and what I had been and it was the turning point for my personal journey had begun! Light was beginning to shine in my darkened tunnel called my mind.
On a giant poster board was the known quote by Albert Einstein which read “insanity is doing the same things while expecting different results.” During my discovery process I have added a slight adaptation to the afore mentioned quote “insanity is doing the same thing knowing full well what the results WILL BE!” Before coming into the Journey Training, it is safe to assume that I was insane. Perhaps not in the clinical sense, but emotionally imbalanced nonetheless. Journey taught me that I could not conquer what I was unwilling to face regardless of how scary it appeared. Looking back, it wasn’t what I was unwilling to face per se as it was, what I would discover once the mask(s) were removed. You see, my pain, in spite of its darkness became a comfortable companion for I had learned to manipulate, maneuver and mask the truth which kept me enclosed within a mental prison of my own making. By discovering I had the right to be myself, while forgiving myself and ultimately loving myself was a radical prospect indeed. One that was greater than the pain of my past.
King David once penned “Be still and know that I am God. (see Psalms 40:10a)” In a word “to be still” requires one to “let go” or “discard” former false systems of beliefs or perceptions. In Journey I was given a “contract” which is equivalent to receiving a new identity and purpose. Before I was dispassionate, fearful and weighed down by the guilt of my past and previous convictions. When asked how I perceived myself, I could only respond sheepishly “a jailbird.” Although I was walking in the land of the free, I was still imprisoned albeit the prison was a mental one instead of a physical one. However, by the end of the training I was smiling (genuinely) declaring: “I am a passionate free bird.” I gave myself permission to discard those old tapes which kept me defeated, discouraged and imprisoned. I was free to soar above my self-limiting perceptions.
It has been stated a journey of a thousand steps begins with one. This is not to suggest that it will be easy especially when you battle between your ears. But there is one thing that I can assure you and it is this: since that glorious weekend of uncovering, discovering and discarding, I have begun to walk in my “it,” I am a semester from receiving my college degree at 50. My marriage which at one time was on life support has begun to heal itself as I rigorously apply the tools learned in the Journey Training. The wounded boy who lived in fear has been integrated with his core self and is now living a life once previously believed impossible. And the results I lived to repeat have been traded in for the wonder of tomorrow. I am a liberated and passionate free bird. Now it’s time for you to discover your “it.”
I see it every January. People set New Year’s resolutions, only to watch them go down in flames a few weeks later. It’s not January yet, but have you ever set a goal or had a desire that just kept getting sabotaged over and over again? I have! And in the end, we blame everything but ourselves, going victim to the things around us and taking little to no responsibility.
What if I were to tell you that it is most likely you that is responsible for sabotaging your dreams and goals. Yes, you! Not the lack of time, or any other excuse you can muster up! If you want it, there it is – GO AND GET IT! If it were only that simple, right?
Your agenda is all about your true intention
Intentions are just that – something you plan on doing – which means you probably aren’t doing much about it right now. If I told you I intended to write a word beginning with the letter “Z”, would you say it is my true intention? Well, you couldn’t yet. I haven’t written one! But when I tell you that a Zebra has stripes, then you know for sure. Yes, it was my true intention to write a word beginning with the letter “Z”, and I just proved it. People say they are going to do thing, but so many times nothing gets done. Why is that?
I believe it is because many times we want something, but it is not our true intention to have it. There is something in the way. We’ve all noticed it and said, “Why do I keep eating badly when I just want to lose weight?” Or it might be, “Why do I keep charging things on my card when I want to be debt free?”
Our agendas are made up of priorities
When we see someone achieve the goal they set out to achieve, we might ask, “How did you stay on track?”
When I lost 239 pounds in 6 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days, no one could believe it! The world was shocked when I burst through that paper. But I wasn’t! It was my true intention. Were there things that popped up and got in the way? Yes! But I stayed on track, and to this day Darci says it was the most amazing thing she has ever seen. Because I got rid of my hidden agendas. And losing as much weight as I could became the very top tier on my priority list! When I was faced with a decision, it was easy because I knew what I really wanted.
It’s our hidden agenda that keeps us in failure
If you state a goal or desire, but it just never seems to happen, it may be because you have a hidden agenda. Let’s say I am committed to losing 4 pounds this week, but I have a lunch date every day at places that have my favorite fried foods! I will either re-schedule those lunches or change the locations, or I will most probably not lose 4 pounds this week. And if I am more committed to eating those fried foods than I am to losing 4 pounds, the goal is crushed. You see, I wanted to eat those lunches more than I wanted success. And I think we all should find these hidden agendas and challenge them so we find the success we want and deserve!
When you state a goal or desire, there will be other things you are committed to that will challenge your every decision, so you have to challenge those hidden agendas and win. In the above example, challenging them consisted of a decision to change the locations or re-schedule the lunches. Getting rid of the secondary agenda that might sabotage the first one is key. Here is a real-life example that happened last week.
A friend asked to have breakfast with me, so we met at the bagel shop. I got my coffee and banana, skipping the bagel of course because I have goals to keep! We sat down and he told me the doctors said if he doesn’t lost weight, as early as two years from now he would probably lose his leg from complications of diabetes. They were presenting him with the option of surgery, and he wanted to ask my opinion. Here is what I told him: “You have got to make your decisions ahead of time, before you are faced with a temptation. You need to get on a plan and stick to it! Don’t put it off, pre-prepare your meals on Sunday for your lunches! I grill chicken, have my meals prepared, and take them to work so my decisions are already made for me. It’s the only way you will succeed without surgery.”
He answered with, “Danny, here’s the thing. I can’t eat left-overs. I don’t know what it is, but I hate them! I only like fresh food.”
My reply was, “Well, you have to choose between losing your leg, having a dangerous surgery that doesn’t solve the problem in the end, or eating left-overs. The choice is yours, but if you say you will lose weight and bring that hidden agenda along, you might as well go ahead and buy your wheelchair.”
I don’t know what he has decided to do, but I sincerely hope he can battle the hidden agenda of not eating left-overs and make it his true intention to lose the weight and save his life.
Each month, some of the hidden agendas or, as my old friend Brian Klemmer called them – competing commitments – that people walk into The Journey Training with become uncovered, challenged, and overcome! We’ve seen great goals and dreams be achieved, but the first step was identifying what it was that was keeping them from what they truly wanted. When you identify those hidden agendas that are there, the true intention becomes a little clearer; and the path to what you really want seems to be straightened out into a shorter distance!
Have you ever had a job to do? I mean one that you had already fixed in your mind how you were going to do it? I mean, no matter what, it was going to be done your way. Or maybe it wasn’t a job. Maybe it was your vacation. Or the car you are going to buy. Or the puppy you are planning to get. Recently I had one – it was a book. But, something got in my way.
Turn on the light
By my bed on a table I have a lamp. Not just a lamp, but my grandmother’s lamp. It is something special to me. It also has something wrong with it. Tony has promised me he’ll fix it when he has the time. When I read a book, I enjoy reading under the light of my grandmother’s lamp before going to sleep.
A while ago I was so excited when I finally bought Arthur Greeno’s book, “Dysfunctional Inspiration.” After all, I was finally going to get to read about the famous brownie incident that Mike Tedford mentions frequently, advising that it, in fact, was something that really did happen!
I lay down to read the book and…my lamp is broken. I turn on the overhead light, but Tony he doesn’t like having it on while watching TV. I’m going to read this book in bed, so I read the first 2 chapters using the flashlight on my phone. This was a pain – not the easiest way to read a book – so I lay the book down by the lamp, and request again to Tony that he fix the lamp so I could read at night.
As the days – then the weeks – go by and I look at Arthur’s book laying unread under the lamp, I get really frustrated with Tony! Why won’t he fix my lamp when he said he would? Several times at Wal-Mart, I almost buy a cheap lamp, but I just can’t bring myself to replace Grandma’s lamp. In my mind, I can’t finish the book without Tony fixing the lamp.
As I lay in bed about 2 weeks ago, I again became frustrated. Then it was as if the lamp came on, only in my thoughts! Every morning, I do a devotion on the couch in the living room. There’s plenty of light to read. I thought, “What if I just MOVE THE BOOK?” So the next morning when I got up, I picked up the book and took it with me. After my devotional time, I read some of Arthur’s book and marked my place. And what seemed like the next day, I finished the book!
It took me over a month to finish Arthur’s book, but it seemed like a day! I got to thinking in a Journey Training way….how was this a reflection of my life? How many times am I so focused on doing it MY WAY, or being “right”, that I lose sight of the fact that there is another, and possibly quicker & easier way to do it? And why was I blaming Tony for me not choosing to read the book. Victim much? Now I pose a question: What might you be putting off? Is there another way to do it? Perhaps instead of waiting for something to get fixed, maybe you just need to “move the book!”
Every month, people enter The Journey Training wanting to be “right” so much that they end up being frustrated and not being happy! By the end of the weekend, they see so many more possibilities of how they can be happy, and that doing it their way isn’t the most important thing! What are you NOT doing? Why not sign up for the next Threshold class and find out?