Monday, March 31, 2014

Stretched Beyond Your Comfort Zone

“I will not give that which costs me nothing,” ~King David.

“There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” ~Steve Jobs

When we set goals for ourselves, we are telling the universe that no matter what it plans for us, we are the captains of our lives and we determine the outcome. However, making that grand gesture is only the first step. Once we declare our intentions the universe conspires against us, pushes us to prove ourselves, tests our resolve, and stretches us beyond our comfort zones to see if we meant what we said or if we will falter. In our human frailty and weakness that is often what we do – fall. Yet, we are not failures - unless we give up. There’s no tally for how many times I’ve been knocked down and counted out, but I won’t give up. The universe may have given up on me, but I won’t give up on myself.

When we look around it ‘appears’ that others have it easier, but that’s because we’re often only looking at the things that give us the most difficulty. We ALL have struggles, but they may be in different areas. It seems my hardest struggles are in love and health, while others struggle with success and happiness, and others peace and addictions. The list goes on and on. We are individuals, unique, and precious. It would be great if we were all born to the same opportunities and face the same struggles.

It’s not fair.

Life isn’t fair.

We have to get this ‘fairness’ idea out of our heads and quit comparing ourselves to others. Face our troubles and realize we all struggle in one way or another. Not one of us is perfect or without hardship. Not one!

We need to help encourage one another. I can’t begin to express how much the love and encouragement from my closest friends has meant to me this past couple of years. There were days I felt lower than dirt, didn’t even want to live because the pain and heartache hurt so much. I still sometimes have those days. But all it took was a kind word, a simple expression of love, a bit of encouragement and not judgment from my friends to lift me out of those dark places. We all visit them from time to time. Not one of us has our ‘shit’ together all the time.

If we can clear up our thinking and start encouraging ourselves and one another, knowing that our journey will have some hard days, determine in our hearts that our dreams and hopes are worth the sacrifices they will require, and surround ourselves with people who will love and encourage us when we have dark days and not judge us, then we can begin to move those mountains.

I keep coming back to a Lucy Spraggan song called “Mountains” and there’s a line that tugs my heart every time – “I know what you’re scared of, I can feel it too. You’re not scared of climbing mountains; you’re scared you can’t make them move.”

God knows I’ve got huge mountains in front of me. We all do; I’m not alone in this venture. But, I do have something very precious …I have friends who truly love me. They don’t just tell me with their lips while judging me and reminding me of my faults. They love me in spite of them. I love them more than I can ever express. They’re not perfect, they have their own battles and weaknesses, but they’re perfect for me. They stretch me often beyond my comfort zone – pushing me forward when all I want to do is lie down and give up. It’s not all laughs and good times – more often its arguments and frustration – because they care enough to tell me the truth. They don’t give up on me, when I’m sure they feel like it …often, perhaps daily. They are more precious to me than any success, fame, recognition, money, or treasure. They are ‘love’. Sure, I want to be ‘in love’ and have a great romance, but the love I have for and from my friends… is so much more than a flight of fancy.

To my friends… you know who you are… I love you. Thank you for loving me.

So the next time you feel the pressure and the struggle of the goals you’ve set for yourself, remember you’re not alone, you’re a member of the human race. And if you don’t have a friend or two around you who will love you and stretch you beyond your comfort zone, start looking for them.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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