Do you feel like your life is full of potential and packed with hope? Or do you feel as though your potential has greatly diminished and you are holding on to a few crumbs of hope? Perhaps you bounce some where in between.
Recently I have been touring college campuses with my son, Andrew, who is a Junior in High School. I have been trying to expand his horizons, hoping that he will see his own potential in a new light and would have a vibrant hope for what the future could hold for him.
I give a huge pat on the back to the admission staff and admission departments out there. They are doing a phenomenal job of marketing their schools. Although, I have to admit that I am sick of hearing how high the rock walls are at each campus. When did that become a main speaking point on every college tour?
It seems to me that if you want to feel the spirit of potential and hope, go on a college campus visit.
Honestly, as I have been trying to help my son unearth his potential and instill him with hope I have found myself experiencing quite an inverse reaction. I have been deeply saddened with feelings of lost potential and diminished hope.
Once upon a time I was young with a vibrant future of potential and possibility ahead of me. I had hope that great things were in store for me and the pages of my story would be quite epic & adventurous. Ah, youth is wonderful.
If you look through my photo books it does seem like there were many great things happening, that hope was still alive and well in my life. But then…not so much. It is as if the gauge on my tank of potential fell dramatically towards empty and the level of power behind my hope greatly diminished.
Is it possible that I wasted what I had been given? Could it be that I had not been a good steward of my talents and that I was now doomed to spend my days in the muck and mire of monotonous mediocrity?
As I sit here today, I feel that I have been horribly off course in my life for approximately the last 15-18 months. That is a long time to be drifting. It has happened despite a great deal of exhausting effort. I have been busy over that time, giving what I thought was my best to things I thought were good. Perhaps I was just going in circles.
I have observed a correlation between feeling lost and thinking thoughts of regret. When I feel lost, I think of all of the things I wish I would have done differently. I look back, and not usually in a helpful way. It makes me want to give up and to feel as though I have nothing to offer, which must mean that I am no longer valuable.
Those are bad feelings and bad thoughts. Yuck!
Time to Reboot
When something is not going right with our computers, what do we do with them? Most commonly, it seems that we take the time to restart them.
My best reboot times are when I slow down to pray, when I take my mess, my muck, to the Lord. Please let me make a caveat here that I am highly inconsistent in this area, I would love to say I can easily recognize the need to pray and turn to it quickly. But, honestly, I linger in pity puddles and dwell in downcast feelings more than I should.
Here is a mud covered prayer from my prayer journal when I needed a restart.
“Dear Adonai, Father, Spirit, Jesus, I just want to be with You. Today I am tired. Today I am weary. I have much to do, but no gumption to actually do it. I don’t want to waste the gift of time, but I don’t know where to start or what to do. I want to rest but I feel I should be productive. Please give me PEP UP for Joy. Love, Julie”
That was my prayer that day. Just a simple and honest here’s where I really am Lord, kind of prayer. I think we need more real prayers like that.
Prayers like this:
“Beloved Lord, please help us rediscover the potential that still lies within us. Help us to have renewed hope that there are great moments and good days in store for us. Help us to feel that the best has not passed us by and left us in the dust. Help us to look at all we have around us and all we have within us. Help us to recognize that we have been given talents, talents that are capable of becoming realized assets which can be utilized for meeting needs surrounding us.
Renew our hope, not just in ourselves, but in You who designed and purposed us. Even if we feel lost or or clueless about what direction to move in, help us to hope and trust in You for our direction and for our purpose.
Please Lord, help us rediscover our purpose and renew our hope in Jesus’ name, amen.
The Fuel of Frustration
Let me let you in on a little secret in my life, sometimes it takes a bit of fuel from frustration to get the fire of my passion really burning. A bit of right placed anger can lead to focused action.
I know this sounds odd, so let me give you a couple of specific examples.
Once upon a time I had a boss tell me that there were “no high fives in finance”. That got under my skin and right into my heart. It frustrated me so much that it made me determined to take action. I set out to personally recognize, reward and call attention to the incredible people who worked around me with intense dedication. I did give some high fives along the way as well.
Looking back, I am so grateful for that comment. It was like a huge backhoe that scooped a ton of dirt right off my heart allowing me to discover and unearth what turned out to be a diamond of encouragement talent.
Here’s another example. I am so frustrated by the fit of my clothes and the number on the scale, that it is causing me to make changes to my daily life and my schedule. I want to use the energy behind the emotion of frustration to move forward in a positive step rather than use it to beat myself down.
What about You?
My dear reader, how about you? How are you feeling my friend? Do you need to rediscover your potential and renew your hope?
If you said YES with me, then we need to take a step right now.
There is a passage labeled “Don’t Put it Off” from the first chapter of 2 Peter from the message version that I need to share with you.
3-4 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. 5-9 So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. 10-11 So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I know that is a lot; much to read and much to take in. Here is how I broke it down as I was processing it myself.
God endows us with potential. He gives it to us. It is a gift for us to use. It is as if God blessed us with a brand new vehicle to drive. He tosses the keys right into our open hands. I believe God’s got a beaming smile from the look of shock and awe on our faces.
God empowers us to use our potential. He not only gives us the talent, he gives us the ability needed to fully use the talent. God is taking care of all of the details needed to make this vehicle work; a full tank of gas, a fully charged battery, washer fluid, air filters and all of the other little parts that we don’t even recognize are needed to make this thing go.
God facilitates our learning process. He teaches us how to drive these talents we have been given. He wants us to use them effectively. Let me reiterate that this is a PROCESS. It does not happen instantly or overnight. It may even require…*gasp*…hard work. If you have ever seen me attempt to parallel park, you know it takes some of us more time and effort than others learning to drive these things.
God’s got to teach us the fundamentals and we have to practice, practice, practice them. This passage does a great job of listing the fundamentals to practice: understanding, discipline, patience, wonder, friendliness, and love. All things we need to grow into.
A little fundamental practice every day goes a long way.
The hard work that we put in today, the time spent building that relationship with the Lord, it helps us to renew our hope. Not just for today, or for tomorrow, but it will give us a hope that the road of our entire lives will lead us through the gates of Heaven and into the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord.