God gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-control.
~2 Timothy 1:7
“You’re thinking of tackling a new challenge,” God whispered to me on my morning walk.
“Yes. I am. I’ll need your help,” I answered. A pair of geese on the pond called out, then slowly rose from the water. I watched them until they flew out of sight.
“I’ll be with you every step of the way,” God assured me.
“I’m glad because it’s a pretty big dream. It’s a bit intimidating.”
“New ideas and endeavors often require you to stretch beyond your comfort zone,” God explained. “If you trust my Spirit, and you are willing to risk some stretch marks, let’s make your dream come true!” I could hear the smile in His voice.
I put my hands on my belly. “I grew four babies in here, two at one time even. I’m comfortable with stretch marks,” I said laughingly. The geese circled back and flew overhead, calling, calling. They sounded excited, eager to greet the new day. With a gentle sweep of their wings, they landed gracefully on the pond. I watched them as I stood in the cool of the morning, breathing in God’s sweet breath of hope and His plans for my future.
I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Nevada City, California last week. When I arrived at my new destination, a dear friend called to check in on me. It was good to hear her voice. She congratulated me on my new chapter in life, emphasizing the opportunity of a new beginning. I agree with her. There’s a freedom in striking out on a fresh journey; a sense of being able to get closer to your true self, your true destination. But we can all start out on a new journey, every day, without having to move, or to make big changes in our lives.
Every sunrise offers us a clean slate we can fill with curiosity, wonder, creativity, gratitude, service, etc., or we can fill it with fear, worries, anger, resentment, victimhood, martyrdom, etc. The choice is up to us. True, we are often pushed along by our negative emotions and our beliefs, old patterns of thinking, and unhealed trauma, but we can give those things to God to heal.
If we make a conscious effort to live in “full bloom” every day, we have the same new beginning that changing locations affords us. Here’s to the morning’s sunrise. As it warms the day, let your heart and soul be warmed by God’s desire for your highest and best expression of who you are. Be bold. Be bright. Shine!
You don’t know how great you can be!
How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.
~ Anne Frank
A soft rain fell as the sun rose. I sat by the window and sipped my coffee as I watched the light spread across the garden, waking up the wildlife. I had not slept well the night before. I had tossed and turned, worrying that I wasn’t capable of being all I wanted to be. How often I upper-limit myself! Fear holds me back from my fullest potential, my deepest expression of myself. My internal critic whispers that I’m not good enough and it can be convincing. When it is, I suffer the consequences of living a life that is so much smaller than it should be.
I held the warm mug in my hands and let the steam rise to my face. I smiled, the smell of coffee intoxicating in the paleness of the early hour. “God, I give you my fears and doubts today. Give me the courage and the wisdom to go through my day with an open mind, open arms, and an open heart,” I prayed. A nuthatch landed on the bare branches of the Japanese Maple just on the other side of the window, peering in at me. It sat for the longest time then flew. “Let me be like that little bird. Let me fly high with you today.”
Sitting there in the quiet, I remembered what Jesus once said. “You can do the things I’ve done and more.” He was able to do miraculous things because He understood God was within Him. “Help me to feel your presence in my heart every moment today,” I prayed. “Help me to rely on you. It’s you that makes me my best self.” The sun swallowed the last star of the night sky. It was a new day. A new beginning. A new chance to reach my fullest potential.
“In God’s economy, nothing is wasted.”
I watched my dog, Shakespeare, run on the beach, propelled by some invisible inner joy. He ran in large figure eights until he tired and laid down at my feet, panting heavily. He looked up at me with eyes so bright, I couldn’t help but smile at him. I knelt down and stroked his head. In a few minutes, he got back up, ready to explore the seaweed strewn up on shore. We walked north, me plodding in the heavy sand, Shakespeare darting from one exciting discovery to the next. I couldn’t help but note the differences in our demeanor. I was preoccupied with my thoughts of a past mistake. He was free, unencumbered by the past.
I ruminated about a decision I had made as we walked. The outcome had not been favorable as I had thought it would be. The weight of it, the embarrassment of it, pressed heavy on my heart. A seagull flew low to the ground as if playing tag with Shakespeare. I thought to myself; God sure created a wonderful world. As the two of them moved in tandem together, I realized that in God’s creation there was room for my imperfection, my mistakes.
God uses our mistakes to show us valuable lessons. We can learn humility and gain wisdom from our mistakes. I’m giving my mistake to you, God. Use it to help me grow, I thought. With each step, my heart grew lighter. As I focused on the here and now, the weight of the past lifted, and I found myself running to catch up with Shakespeare who had stopped to sniff a piece of driftwood. The gull circled above us then flew out over the sea. I watched its wings move gracefully against the breeze. Shakespeare looked up at me and I swear he seemed to know something had shifted inside of me. “I gave God my mistake. I’m okay now,” I said. “Come on, let’s walk a little bit more.” That’s all he needed to hear. He took off running, his tongue hanging out of his mouth and his eyes bright with joy. I knew just how he felt!
“…all things work together for good..”
Nothing is wasted. Not the mistakes you make. Not the time you spend chasing after dreams that never materialize. Not the diet you fail, the money you lose, or the relationships that end. Nothing. Everything is grist for the mill. God uses all of your experiences to shape you into the person He wants you to be. All you have to do is say “Yes!” to Him and surrender. Trust that all things will work to your good and to God’s glory.