There are moments in our lives when all we can see in front of us are problems. Sometimes these problems exist simply because we have made mistakes or wrong decisions. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations beyond our control. And sometimes, though we think we are doing everything right, there are circumstances we could not have foreseen. It rarely matters why our problems exist. What makes a difference is how we face them.
We’ve all experienced roadblocks. They’re frustrating and sometimes paralyzing. Obstacles in our way interrupt our progress and cause us to stop and take stock. We are often forced to go back to the beginning and re-discover the “why” of our vision. We stand at a crossroads wondering if we should continue on the journey, or pack it up and go home. We second guess, and ask ourselves, “Have I begun something that was too high and out of reach?” “Have I gone beyond my ability?” “Did I make too many mistakes along the way to be able to move forward from here?” I know how this feels!
Sometimes being forced to stop dead in our tracks can be the best thing that happens to us in the middle of realizing our dreams. In those moments, we are required to declutter our thinking, which in turn, declutters our spirits. I have found that just like spring cleaning my home brings a freshness to my environment, decluttering my minds and realigning my thinking has the same effect on my spirits and vision. This interruption allows for the mid-course corrections that are necessary to continue to carry out any vision destined for greatness.
So the question becomes: How do I handle these “problems”? For me, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I can go back to this truth: The vision I am carrying was God-given, and He holds the answers to any problems that arise. Once I begin to see from His perspective, I give myself permission to seek the solution rather than focusing on the problem that stands before me.
First, I have to have a change in perspective. I have to make myself to see the problems I face as opportunities rather than a death sentence. I have to allow them to make me think outside the box in which I find myself.
Often, the times in our lives that involve the greatest distress, are also the times of the most profound growth. It’s during these times of trial, when we are re-examining where we stand, that we can visualize something we’ve not seen before. Maybe it’s a new way of doing something. Or maybe we find that we already had the tools in our hands needed to bring about the solution, but were unable to see the value of using those tools in the current context. Again, the particulars don’t matter; the lesson is learned in choosing to believe there is a solution.
Secondly, I must allow these difficulties to streamline and solidify my thinking. Once I can see light again, I’m reminded of the “Why” that caused me to begin in the first place. What motivated you? Why did you feel your dream was something worth pursuing? What change did you hope to bring about? The most important thing to remember in carrying out a vision is to stay true to the calling with which you began. You are the one who carries the dream. Don’t apologize for what is in your heart.
What you’re called to accomplish will naturally evolve as you get further down the road, and maturing of the vision is to be expected. But as you’re re-examining, entertain the possibility that you may have picked up expectations from others along the way. I know this has been my experience. Outside expectations can have a negative impact on what you are doing. They can add burden to what you are already carrying rather than be used to propel you forward.
Are the requirements you or others have unintentionally imposed lining up with your original vision? What are you seeing that is not moving you in the direction you took to start with? What burden needs to be shed in order to streamline the execution of your vision? I find it helpful to make a physical list of what I am sensing as pressures. This allows me to see clearly and to put aside those expectations that are not moving me forward.
Once you’ve been able to clear out the pressures you’ve been feeling that shouldn’t be there, it’s important to forgive yourself and others. Most of the time, people have good intentions, but even still, our hearts can be embittered when we feel the need to reshape our vision because of what others think it should be. This is a subtle danger that should be avoided! Letting go of this extra baggage – like spring cleaning our houses – will produce renewal and refreshing.
Remember: Part of this journey called life is facing problems and challenges. If we will let them, they actually hold tremendous value for our growth. We are not defined by the problems we face – we are defined by the way we face them. Struggles are the fastest way for us to grow. They require us to be flexible and to change. And they are only temporary; they last for a season, yet they can be the best thing to happen to our dream.