You may be feeling elated. Perhaps you are excited for the next few days and feel prepared for any challenge. Or you may be heavy with care, and your outlook may be bleak. Whether joyful or joyless, consider this truth: today is a tiny blip in time. Your circumstances, good or bad, will soon change. Your story goes on. Where you are going matters more than your present circumstances.
Do you feel life spinning out of control? Faster, faster, things you value slip away from you. Your life is a merry-go-round, and the people you love and the things you value slip away as it gains speed like a wheel on a runaway train. You strain to hold it together, but in the end, it is pointless. So much is out of your control.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Unknown Origin, often attributed to Winston S. Churchill
Over the past few weeks, I have felt the same. A cousin whose sense of humor was a highlight of my childhood passed away. My mother became critically ill, and though she is on a path to recovery, she lives with daily discomfort. My daughter started her career with a great company that feels too far away. Though I could not be more proud, our home is emptier without her exuberance. Professionally, a client relationship ended, and I started a new job. Good, bad, and bittersweet moments come with unstoppable force, and they never stay for long.
Given all the chaos, what can I control? My sense of agency fluctuates with the turbulence of life, but one thing is always within my power: my response. I can hang on more tightly, control the chaos, and become frustrated when it all comes apart. Or, I can surrender: accept the bad, cherish the good, and use what I receive to become the person I want to be.
Who Am I Becoming?
While some may be more confident and stable than others, everyone feels this sense of instability from time to time. If we measured the effectiveness of our work, the health of our relationships, or our level of joy as if everything depended on that score right now, we would often be discouraged. But life is not a test we can pass or fail in a single day. It is an opportunity to grow—to become more than we were.
If you know what you want and where you are going, you can face challenges with more context. Heartache, physical pain, and discouragement are only chapters in a life story that is in progress. And you, as its protagonist, move ahead to face the future and live as the hero you must become.
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” — Earl Nightingale, The Strangest Secret
Where Am I Going?
I have sometimes realized my goals, dreams, and aspirations, but more often than not, they merely fueled my first steps in a new direction. The world looks different when we start going somewhere rather than waiting for the world to come to us. Opportunities open up when we look within and find a vision strong enough to overcome our inertia.
The outcome is always uncertain. But to create a legacy of positive change in the world, we must leave our comfort zone. And life, when lived in faith, is a great adventure featuring epic journeys, heroic battles, and faithful companions.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — J.R.R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Who Am I Bringing?
The Lord of the Rings tells the story of Frodo, a hobbit from the Shire whose life is about to turn upside down. In the initial idyllic setting of the story, Sam Gamgee enters as a naive and nosy gardener whose curiosity gets the better of him. He becomes entangled in the intrigue surrounding a magical ring given to Frodo by his aging uncle, Bilbo. As the story unfolds, Frodo must carry the ring across mountains on foot, descend into dark caverns, and battle for his life against natural and demonic forces. Through it all, Sam never leaves his side.
Without Sam, he would not have completed his mission. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually spent, Frodo’s will began to give out. The ring was too much to carry, yet it was a task only he could complete. As he neared the end, he collapsed, unable to take another step. Sam’s next choice is one only a true friend can make, and it gives us a powerful example to follow.
“Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. 'I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
This week, identify those around you who show signs of discouragement. Perhaps you can say something encouraging, help them, and show them you believe in their potential. You may never know what you accomplish through your acts of kindness. But something good will come of it. Your life has greater significance and impact than you may ever know.
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