“Transition is the ultimate battle within ourselves; we are forced to trade security, safety and what we know for risk, uncertainty and total darkness.”
If you’ve wrestled with fear, doubt and discouragement all at once, congratulations! You are probably in a time of transition. This highly specialized period is designed to purify, refine and create a more solid, stable “you.” Although you may feel at a loss or even defeated at times, you are actually on the frontlines of one of the greatest battles you’ll ever win. You see, transition is essential for greater opportunities and open doors. It is an absolute necessity in fulfilling your calling, and it is impossible to be effective in this life without having gone through it. I can recall dozens of changes within my own life and career over the years, but most of those were simply that; changes. Seasons of transition are different because it forces things out of us we never knew we had and replaces them with something we never dreamed we would be able to obtain. It’s a faith walk day to day, a constant re-shaping of perspectives. So when ideals are shattered, hopes disappointed, confusion and discouragement becomes an unshakable plague, and the infamous duo of fear and doubt slip into unprotected crevasses of our psyche; we can be sure that this chasm has a name. Simple change doesn’t do that, but transition requires it.
“Disenchantment, whether it is minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.” ~William Bridges
The good news is that transition is only a test. That’s right, a test. I should say, a time of testing and building. Refining, polishing, and getting ready for a season of purpose and fulfillment. It’s a time of developing into who we were meant to become, not for who we have settled to be. It is only through this level of struggle that we are able to build roots and foundations strong enough to handle the weight of the reward. We must become bigger, stronger and more capable to match the extraordinary requirements of our calling and purpose. We must gain wisdom to pour into those around us, yielding meaningful direction and purposeful outcomes. And we must glean for ourselves the refined traits needed in future struggles, minimizing potential damage by utilizing what we have learned.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~Anais Nin
It’s a new season of life so new things will be required. To operate on a new level, growth must happen. We must transition away from our former habits and thought patterns and make room for a broader view and more expansive impact. Life isn’t a game, it’s a mission. And missions are never carried out without proper training and testing. So as you fight your way through the unknown, I pray your faith grows as it is tested. Faith is the only thing stronger than fear and it’s at the core of what transition is really all about.
Prayer is the most powerful weapon available to an individual. It is the highest form of communication with a direct link to God. It thrusts us into a spirit realm where the impossible is accomplished on a regular basis. When we pray or communicate with God, He PROMISES to hear us! He does not promise to hear “good thoughts” or “good vibes” that people love to send to each other, however. Only *prayer* can change things!
~ “There’s a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying”
John G. Lake
What Exactly Is Prayer?
Prayer is very simple. It is talking to God. There is a key to this communication; however it may not be what people think. While there is no formula, and things like great spiritual verbiage do nothing to propel a prayer any higher, it IS important to pray from the heart. God hears the cries from our HEART. We can THINK of things to pray about and God knows what we’re thinking at all times. But because He is a gentleman, he doesn’t invade our space. He waits for us to ASK Him ( prayer) before He moves on our behalf.
~“Wishing will never be a substitute for prayer”
Let’s Clear the Air
First of all, let me just say that God DOES want to hear from you and contrary to what you may have heard, He’s not mad at you. He has given us the most powerful weapon on this earth to use at will. Again, He WANTS to hear from you. D.L. Moody put it best when he said, “Some people think that God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.” The bible says that God has the hairs on your head numbered. While you’re sleeping, He’s thinking about you. He keeps every tear that you cry in a jar. Does this sound like someone who doesn’t want to talk to you? Does that sound like someone who’s mad at you?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29.11 (NIV)
I remember when I first started praying. I would be selective in what I asked for because I didn’t want to take up too much of His time. I also didn’t feel that I deserved what I was requesting, so I would ask in timidity. I simply didn’t know who I was in Him and what He gave to me. Basically, I didn’t believe that He REALLY WANTED TO HEAR FROM ME. Over the years, I’ve discovered a ton of scriptures that say things like: He wants us to “come boldly to His throne of Grace…” Does that sound like someone who’s troubled by your asking? Absolutely not!
“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness”
The Bottom Line
The “formula” is simple: authentic communication. The results are the hard part, but that isn’t our burden. That’s God’s delight. Prayer opens up a realm beyond our understanding, but it is very real. It is also a way to get to Know God intimately. He wants that too! There are several types of prayer that the bible makes reference to as being the most powerful. They come from a life lived in His will and time spent with Him. “More prayer, more power. Little prayer, little power.” But the most important thing is to get started.
God loves with a great love, the person whose heart is bursting with a passion for the impossible”
One More Thing
Prayer isn’t some powerless “duty” that we do every now and then to ease our conscience. It’s the dynamism to have God change things on our behalf. It is power beyond our own capability or understanding with layered and impenetrable depth. Its height exceeds the impossible and unimaginable. Prayer taps into power that changes lives and creates miracles. It locks into a moving, living being that operates in realms we have little knowledge of. Still, it is made available to us in one easy step. Opening our mouths and talking to God is all we have to do to unhinge this boundless force of power. He’s waiting right now.
~“ Prayer is our most f ormidable weapon, the thing which makes all else we do efficient.
- E. M. Bounds
“Character is so largely affected by association that we cannot afford to be indifferent as to who or what our friends are.”
At the beginning of this year, I set out to build my faith. After all, faith is the biggest enemy of fear so I want all that I can get, right? Well, little did I know that asking for more faith is sort of like praying for patience. God will place you in the longest line at the grocery store or you may find yourself in a traffic jam more often. I found myself in the middle of situations where I had to have faith or I would have crumbled. Building good character is best formed and polished in “uncomfortable” situations. Why is that? Because character is DEVELOPED over time, it isn’t something we’re born with and anything long lasting takes time to get. And it’s often in the moments we think our lives are wasting away because stuff isn’t happening fast enough, that if we take a closer look, we can see what ‘s ACTUALLY happening. Our character is being formed and our “default settings” are being re-programmed.
“show me a man with good character and I’ll show you someone who cannot fail.”
How is character formed?
The way we build character may surprise you. It is an act of our subconscious responding to habits formed. As we think about things over and over, eventually we do them. And over time as we repeat them, they slowly become habit. When we have done these things long enough, we no longer have to think about them. It’s sort of like driving the same route every day. There have been times when I get so lost in thought driving home from work that when I get home, I wonder HOW I got there! I can’t remember most of the drive because I’m on “auto pilot.” It is habit that has become my “default” setting and no longer requires much thought. It works the same way for things like being trustworthy, patient, having integrity, persevering, praying when things get difficult instead of trying to do it ourselves, responding with hope and something positive instead of defaulting to the negative status quo, etc. We practice these things until it becomes who we are NO MATTER what our own circumstances may dictate.
“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do” ~Shaquille O’Neal
When is character formed?
It’s in the times when we are waiting for the next step in life. When we are clinging only to hope or a promise and our emotions beg to rule us in the uncertainty. It is formed in the “mean times” of life when our faith is being challenged and things around us seem unsure. It is in decisions we make when we think no one is looking. It’s in how we treat people that can do nothing for us . It is a repeated, deliberate act of our will to persevere until it becomes a “default” setting for us; until it becomes who we are.
“The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” ~ John W. Holt
I find that as I increase in faith, there are often times when I am in “the desert” so to speak. Some prayers are answered powerfully and immediately while other require…well…faith. It’s in these times that I realize there is something else going on that is just as important. Character is being chiseled out of the unknown. And my character…hence my attitude… hence my faith…hence my outlook and overall outcome is taking shape and setting the stage for powerful things to come, guaranteed.
“character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live…as well as think.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why is good character so important?
We build character one difficult decision at a time and then practice it over and over until it is real. This is why we shouldn’t be discouraged in times when things are moving slower than we think they should.. We are being developed. Refined. Built up stronger for better things ahead. We are becoming leaders who will impact people in huge ways because at our core is a solid foundation built and tested ready at all times. Few things in life have greater value because few things are earned at this pace and cost. Character determines our destiny. If our “default settings” cave when the going gets rough, then our future is short circuited and blessing can be cut off. How can we have a powerful future if we cave half the way there? We must take time to develop this right. It is who we are and often determines what we will become.
“Character is a subconscious act. You don’t think about it. You simply react.”
I am a lover of great motivational quotes. I love the ones that get me thinking and propel my thoughts to a higher standard. I am always grateful to get a “shot” of something positive into my day! Raging optimism is a powerful force that will defeat negative intent any day. But just how much power can something like a simple quote really have?
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can
be done without hope and confidence.”
- Helen Keller
I think that most people will agree that being positive is a good thing. The challenge is that it must be authentic to have relevance and it requires consistency to have power. As with anything worth while, it is a daily effort. And with anything "real", it isn't always easy. The main struggle takes place in our mind. It is the very gateway to where the real power lies, our spirit. But before we dig in too deep, let's look at a few basic principles.
“People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing – that's why we recommend it daily.”
We must guard our thoughts carefully. Fear is the main cause of negativity. It breeds aggression, hostility and deep-seeded doubt. If we can cut down on the negative, we automatically allow more positive in and eventually out. When we put good things into our minds, good things come out. When we surround ourselves with good people, we become more effective. Notice that we have "to put"... these things aren’t automatic. It is a constant effort of the human will to swim upstream of a rigorous, negative flow. The good news is that it gets easier every time we do it!
"When you consistently maintain a positive frame of mind, you'll become known as a problem-solver rather than a complainer. People avoid complainers. They seek out problem-solvers."
These are all pretty basic thoughts. Here's where the commonality twists a little. We are made of three parts: spirit, soul and body. Our soul is made up of our mind, will and emotions. Therefore, it is the soul (mind) that is the "bridge" into our spirit. Are you still with me?
The truth is that we can spend all of our time motivating ourselves happy and still feel empty at the end of the day. Why is this? Because we are only "feeding" the gateway or the bridge to what really propels us! The SPIRIIT controls the soul (mind, will and emotions) and body. If we were to simply engage our spirit with the only language it understands, faith, we could bypass all the other stuff!
The antidote to frustration is a calm faith, not in your own
cleverness, or in hard toil, but in God's guidance.
- Norman Vincent Peale
As I spend more time in prayer, my faith automatically grows. Fear ends where faith begins. Faith bypasses the mind, cuts off fear and injects a steady stream of hope and peace.Instead of just engaging my mind in positive activity, I am feeding it's primary source of power. So while some motivational quotes speak to my soul, the ones that leave a lasting impression are the ones geared toward my spirit. The ones that remind me of my purpose,destiny and original design by God to be different and accomplish great things with Him. It is in these that I can feel flames billowing up inside me, pushing back doubt and anxiety. A fierce peace shields my soul and protects against restlessness. And yes, even this is a daily effort. Just because I know something, doesn't mean that I don't need to be reminded of it.
So how much power is in a single quote? I guess it all depends on where the words are aimed. Whether it's your spirit or your soul, positive response is a powerful force that only allows for great things. The difference between soul and spirit ...functioning on a high level ...or accomplishing the impossible. Either way, the daily effort is well worth it!
When we let go of fear, only then can we gracefully move from
what was into the miracle of what can be.
“Peace is a gift that few know how to unwrap”
It’s the classic battle: my mind wrestles with my soul. My brain is very logical, analyzing the possibilities, lacing each one with fear or doubt. But my soul has no room for fear and therefore, doesn’t see it at all. It only knows success reaching out as possibilities. The two can’t agree and so they go to war.
"There is no chance, no fate, no destiny that can circumvent, or hinder, or control a firm resolve of a determined soul."
Days that I “Feed my faith and starve my fear,” I am able to see clearly. My soul takes the lead and peace follows. Did you catch that? Faith is the only language our souls understand, so when we speak its language, it is the key that unlocks peace. Faith is always optimistic. It is always pushing the limits of what we know to a deeper path that it was meant to pursue. Our mind is meant to guard our heart, not trap our soul.
"The soul refuses limits and always affirms an optimism, never a pessimism."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
It seems so simple and it actually it is. The hardest part is getting control of what and how we think. Have you ever noticed that people who are in constant “war” with their souls become sick? It wears on our emotions so much that we literally wear out!
“Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body”. ~Cicero
What makes us restless? Fear of the unknown. Knowing what we have to do, but putting it off. Wanting to fulfill a purpose that we don’t have vision for just yet. The reasons are countless, but the answer is the same. When we’re restless, our soul is sending a signal that it needs to be fed. It is the spirit’s “hunger pains” if you will. Feed it. If you starve it too long, it will weaken and your mind will be the stronger one calculating and developing more fears and walls. Giving logical reasons why destiny, passions and dreams won’t work.
“Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.”
“You were born an original. Don't die a copy.” ~John Mason
I can prove to you that you were born to be unique and in the arena of “different” is your greatest power that can help lead to your destiny. Let’s start with the physical.
Scientists have confirmed that every person has unique DNA. No two people are exactly alike in this area. There are traces of our parents there, but no one will ever have the exact genetic makeup of you. Fingerprints vary from one person to the next. Even in the case of identical twins, no set of fingerprints are exactly alike. In fact, the chances of duplicating even a portion of a fingerprint are 1 in 100 quintillion (one followed by 20 zeros)! From the DNA inside of us to the fingerprints on the outside, we each have our own unique imprint. We were created to be original.
Even our eyes lack the ability to be duplicated. The iris and retinal are so unique to each person that some federal agencies use retina scans for security and sole identity of a person!
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity.”
So many of us settle for the life that we have, knowing deep down inside that we are not happy. We convince ourselves that this is as good as it gets as we stunt our own spiritual and emotional growth. We’re afraid to fail. We’re afraid to succeed. We are simply afraid.
“Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.” - William Newton Clark
The human spirit was not created to be …and is therefore never satisfied… with the status quo. Our spirit is capable of a hundred thousand times more than our minds or bodies and is constantly searching for that flame that burns bigger and bigger until our souls are consumed at last.
The human spirit is equally as unique as our physical form. Inside each of us is a calling and purpose this is unique …in part… because of our own experience, perspective and life lessons. Each of us are born with a calling, that never changes, no matter what. You were given special abilities and strengths to fulfill your purpose. Your spirit knows this, but your mind fights it. This is why it is so important to “feed our faith and starve our fears.” Faith is a total “spirit thing.” The mind can’t see it, can’t understand it and therefore reacts to the unknown with fear. But if your soul is crying out for something more, it is sending out an alert to you that there IS more. Remember, we are not a body with a soul, we are a soul with a body ~CS Lewis.
When God calls you to do something, he enables you to do it. - - Robert Schuller
So now that we know we were created to be different from everyone else, now what? Embrace it. Find your strengths and focus on them. Develop them. Pray for guidance. Get busy trying new things until you find something that fans your internal flame. Ask yourself, “what would I do if I knew that I couldn’t fail?” Build your faith. Feed your spirit. And don’t give in to fear.
Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It's simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step. - Joni Erickson Tada
“The Power of Life and Death Is In The Tongue.” Proverbs
Words are like open flames burning a lasting impression on the soul. Most of us walk around with an imprint that becomes a gaping hole over time as we burn away the fiber of our spirits… one word at a time.
“Every time we open our mouths, our words feed either success or destruction”
I work with a man that never has anything positive to say. And when I say never, I mean over the course of two years, I have never heard him do anything but complain. If he won a million dollars in the lottery, he would complain that the taxes are too high! And sadly, in the time I have been honored to listen to his constant stream of negativity, nothing in his life ever gets better. He always seems to be sick and when he is asked to do a very small task, he responds as though you’ve asked him to climb Mt. Rainier on his way home! We all know someone like him. Every day of his life he is defeated by the power of his own thoughts and words!
"If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you're right." Henry Ford
What we say has tremendous power. Partly because we say, we think and dwell on. Words are a reflection of who we are and where we stand. Once we release our words into the world, they are often followed by actions that determine our ultimate destiny. When we set forth our “verbal fire,” we must realize that it will either burn for us or against us. There is no middle ground.
“Attitudes are contagious. We can have one that makes us sick and weakens those around us or we can have something worth catching.”
If we could take our eyes off of the mountain before us just for a moment, we would find ourselves suddenly aware of those around us. More importantly, we would become more open to their needs. And pretty soon, before you know it, opportunities to be effective begin to present themselves. And as you help shape a new chapter for someone else, your perspective on life suddenly becomes broader, making that former mountain seem a little smaller. If we can speak into someone’s life instead of spewing verbal garbage at them and ourselves, we would open a door to unlimited rewards.
“If you want to experience peace, provide peace for another” Dali Lama
The bottom line is this, the human spirit wants to be alive with passion, vision and joy. But if all we say are negative words, our soul has no fighting chance to build and become stronger. And our purpose in life may never be discovered because we fail to understand the power that helps get us there.
“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” Helen Keller