I recently had a profound realization. It started with discussion with a friend and throughout the course of this conversation, sharing a bit of the details about my story and life so far, I realized I was living out the dream I had for my life. This dream had developed over the past 3 years. It all began when I started attending a church in Vancouver. I never would have guessed it would be a church, a community, that would set me on a whole new course. This group I connected were world changing people. Like, that was their goal, everyday. Their was aim was to not be average, and live average ordinary lives. They knew there was so much more. This wasn’t your average church. The pastor was different than any I had met before. He was engaging, kind, real and a great motivator. He helped me step outside of my comfort zone in pursuit of my dreams. Ones that were pure, not self seeking or advancing, but genuinely aimed to make the world a better place and establish something profound here on earth. It was a much different perspective than I had ever grown up with. Growing up, I understood Christianity to be more about living and sustaining a good natured life, with a family and friends by your side. This perspective about using our talents and skills to create something profound, here on earth, was refreshing. And so I decided to embark on a journey with these new friends. 3 years later I look back and my old self is barely recognizable.
I am living out my dreams. Actually this is beyond what I could have dreamed. Sometimes you don’t see it all when you’re in it. But something is being built. You’ve got to take a step back and look at what has occurred. You are being setup for something. You keep chipping away. Like with a mallet to a granite stone. It breaks away, but it’s slow, sometimes tedious, and challenging. But one day you reflect back and you see how far you’ve come. There’s a wow moment.
At 33 years, I’m realizing that I’m exactly where I need to be. Over the years I would get frustrated over my failures and things that I hadn’t achieved. But God has taken me so far. The most exciting part about this: things aren’t slowing down. I can actually see things picking up as my life becomes more aligned. I haven’t found my soulmate, but I’m not too concerned about that. In time, it will happen. I believe soon. Right now, there’s much to do. I haven’t changed the world too drastically just yet, but I believe that has been set in motion, and in time that will happen. God is preparing my heart for these special things; building the capacity in me, to handle what is to come.
I’ve been involved in rare and special opportunities. I co-founded a community fitness group in Vancouver and now in Sydney. I’m pursuing my dream to empower women in Uganda and Kenya through access to mobile technology and the Internet. And changing or transforming the world through coffee might just be in the near future – we’ll have to wait and see. Beyond that though it’s been the friendships I’ve built, the development of my relationship with my siblings which I think was non-existent before, and healing of the relationship with my parents, particularly my dad. I think the last one was one of the most profound. I believe that alone has changed the most for me. My outlook on life for one has changed because of a renewed and healthy relationship with my father. I’m learning more about what it takes to be a man, to raise a family, pursuing my dreams and my outlook and relationship with God. Yes, a healthy and genuine relationship with my father has sparked all of these things. And it even motivates me to pursue to be a great husband and father.
Self reflection is a good use of time. So let’s have a chat with my former self. Let’s go back to 2007, when I was 25. It was a great time in my life. The fields of life were green, lush and life was like a big apple. I wanted to eat it all. I was doing what I loved. It was about my journey and me fulfilling pursuits and objectives that propelled me. I didn’t care too much if I influenced or damaged someone else’s life all that much. I wasn’t completely inconsiderate, but I had a goal of self. Looking back, I think I was a bit like a black hole. Because of this perspective there would be some extremely challenging times. Although I would achieve all my career goals and beyond that, my life would take a wild curve and nose dive. I would hit a low, low not once, but three times. I realized in this process I had to move away from my focus on my self and focus on what he had in store for my life. As did this I would start to achieve some of my wildest dreams. One’s that I thought would remain dreams. So here it goes.
I am you, 8 years from now. Before I get into this, I want you to know that you are genuinely a great and good natured guy. You have incredible things ahead for you. Profound actually. Your future is bright. But so you are aware, you have some extremely challenging waters ahead of. There are things you have not dealt with that will surface. Some tragic things will transpire over the course of the next seven years. Your boat will be rocked violently. You won’t intentionally mean to hurt anyone, but you will. You’ll hurt yourself the most in the process though. When you’re through it all you’ll see what’s happening, where your challenges have taken you and how they’ve shaped you. You’ll have the many incredible people in your life to thank. But most of it will be your decision to turn to God in the midst of the storms. He’ll redeem your most tragic situations. You might not believe in the things He can do now, but in time, you will. The years ahead will shape who into who you were destined to be. Never give up during the tough times. They are making and changing you. You might consider it, but just don’t go there. Confide in those that love you most. They will give you help you find rest, strength, hope and provide light on situations that appear to be dark and an endless tunnel.
Perseverance will become your greatest strength. Second to that will be vision and focus. Take more chances, but take the right ones. The chances you do take should aim to benefit others; not yourself. The chances you take for your own good will end up hurting and damaging you.
I might sound like (your) mom, but go to bed early and rise early. You’ll get much, much more out of your day. This habit will change your life. The real energy is in the morning. Don’t be afraid to explore and share the depths of your heart with others. Write, and write often. Expressing yourself with ink will help you process what’s going on in that wild mind and heart of yours. Learn to develop this. Writing will become one of your valuable pursuits.
Alcohol is one of the greatest robbers. Don’t get caught up in the “benefits” of socializing in it’s midst. It’s a lie. The love of beer, wine and spirits will lead you to make mistakes when your guard is down and your judgement is unclear. It will fill your mind with worry and deceit. It will muddy the clarity in your mind. It will deceive your heart. Your body is a temple. A healthy body is the key to a healthy mind and spirit – everything is connected. Fill your body with what will benefit it. Recognize this. If one of the three is out of place the others will suffer. Fill them with things that are pure; things that will enable them to do good things; fill them with things that will lift and elevate you. Doing so will set you up and propel you to do things you would not be able to do otherwise.
You can change the atmosphere, wherever you go. This is a world with dwindling hope. You’re needed in the darkest places. Be a light in those places. Everyone has the ability to shift the atmosphere, but most never realize this. You have an advantage. You have a foundation and heritage passed down from generation to generation, from your mother and your father, that is unique and profound. Share this with others. Open your home. Open your heart. It’s the small things that count. Don’t underestimate how small acts of kindness and deeds will help elevate others. Your courage and will is unique. Others might convince you to believe it’s your greatest weakness, but it’s your greatest strength. Harness these traits to step into what seems like daunting and precarious opportunities. You’ll get the most of life when step outside of your comfort zone.
Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them as if it was your mission. Boundaries and having discipline to stick to them will be one of the greatest catalysts in your life. Don’t underestimate this. Focus on the good things in your life. Making money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’ll always feel like you need more. You’ll understand this more as the years go by.
Forgive yourself. Don’t hold onto your past mistakes. Let them go. Aim for excellence; not perfection. Channel your frustration and anger to propel you. Set goals and a vision for your life and continue to write. It’s actually a very fun exercise. Trust more. Fear less. Realize what the holy spirit is saying. Listen more; talk less. Appreciate others more. Be on time, not just sometimes. Always.
People are the greatest investment people. Money, women, possessions and security are all deceptions. Stay clear of them. When you lose focus of God and people, refocus, and quickly. When you focus on people, don’t aim to please, just love them. a pursuit of pleasing people will lead you to doubt and exhaust you. Just love them, particularly those that are different than you, or you don’t get along wit. Even those that frustrate you. Show them kindness and genuinely, love them.
Seek and invest in genuine and healthy relationships. These friends aren’t surfacy or superficial – they go deep, they’re real, honest, genuine and they’ll be in it for the long haul and they’ll make this known to you. They’ll want many of the same outcomes that you want in life. Don’t give up on these relationships because of confrontation or conflict. Fight for friendship.
Connect with community. Don’t postpone this need. Your soul will yearn for it. Pursue it. Be a connector in this community. Bring people together. Be vulnerable with your community. Not just sometimes, but often. They will respond and your relationships with them will bear fruit and have depth. You’ll become much like a family. Don’t dwell on what others might be saying about you, even those in your community. Not everyone will agree or like you, and that’s okay. That’s part of life.
Your family is one the most precious and valuable resources you have. Put time and effort into loving and connecting with your siblings. Pursue relationship with them. Serve them. Celebrate them. Be a great example to them. Trust your parents’ wisdom and advice. It’s good. Don’t take this for granted. They are profoundly special, and will mentor not just you, but many others. Don’t underestimate what is happening here. Love your mother. Build a genuine and healthy relationship with her. Discuss your past hurts with her with the desire to move past the past. And love your dad. Build relationship with him. Forgive him. Show utmost respect. Learn from his wisdom. Discuss your feelings with him. Share the vision you have for your relationship and the depth you seek. Learn from him. He is one if the greatest assets and resources you will ever have. Don’t underestimate this.
God’s plan is always more exciting than your own. It’s up to all of us to make the world we want to live in – but you must play your part. Be consistent. Work hard. Give back. Serve others and serve them with humility and expect nothing in return. You’ll notice in practicing this that you’ll get much life out of giving back and promoting others. Don’t doubt it’s power. Just give it a try. Don’t lose hope in the process of your journey and growth. Let go of the past and you will gain your future. Now go. Boldly and fearlessly.
Your older self,
To be continued…