A perfect plan
2-3-14: As I sit here thinking of what to write I feel a wave of anxiety come over me. My perfectionistic tendencies scream at me to walk away. That whatever I have to say is of no importance, and that whatever I write will be a lame attempt at what someone else has already done better. And why even write? Will anyone even read what I write…or care? And what if what I write is crap? So, why should I even start. It’s better to do nothing than to risk producing something that is crap, right? But yet my heart is leading me to write. But why? Why do I want to write when it causes so much anxiety? “It”… I realize is not the ‘writing’ (or any other creative or physical endeavor that I embark on). Rather, “It” is the fear that has kept me from finding joy in the journey. “It” is the human mind that thinks before it feels…and sees the future as reality, completely ignoring the only moment that we have right in front of us. “It” has kept me prisoner, yet “It” does not hold the key.
In order to solve a problem, you must first recognize it. Sure, you can get lucky and solve some problems without really understanding where they come from, but if you truly want to solve a problem and replace it with a new peace-giving habit, you first must recognize it! But recognizing it isn’t good enough either. Recognizing a problem and not doing anything about it doesn’t make it magically go away. It only causes it to lie dormant, ready to pounce when the next trial arises. As I sit here ‘thinking about’ what to write, I realize that I am really not thinking at all. I am just writing. My thoughts pouring out on the screen without much thought behind them. My spirit filling with an odd sense of fulfillment as my truth is put into words. And yet…still…anxiety. What if I don’t say the right thing? What if I miss something important? What if I write something that is stupid? What if…? Yet, what I refuse to take into account when I let my mind chatter away and cloud my head with self-defeating questions, is the reality of the moment. There is no ‘right’ thing to write. There is no stupid thing if it is your truth. And nothing can be missing, because as it stands now, there is nothing there to begin with. So anything I say is just an addition to life. A blessing on paper. A truth without fault.
“Yes, Shannon. But what if no one ‘gets’ it? What if your long-winded nonsense causes others to fall asleep with boredom?” To that I say “I don’t write for ‘them’. I write for me.” If I write for ‘them’, I will always be disappointed. I can never please them all. But if I write for me, I can only find blessing. Blessing in the outcome, but moreso, blessing in the process. And as I write, the connections are made clear. As I write, the world around me falls silent and I become ONE with it. No longer fighting it, but embracing it. As I write I do not always understand what comes out from beneath my fingers, but, just as in life, the truth and the connections, once clear, always hold the beauty of uncertainty, revealing the joy of blind faith and in walking confidently guided by your heart.
I find it odd that I am most apt to write when I am pressed on all sides. When my world seems to be closing in on me and my life seems to be filled with more questions than answers. These times of uncertainty can be both crippling and inspiring. I admit that in the past they were more crippling than inspiring. I viewed them as God’s punishment for some ‘bad’ thing I must have done. Or worse, I ‘jinxed’ myself by getting excited about a dream…by saying I was in a good place. I felt as if God was standing over me thinking “Yeah, I’ll show you…”. I said my prayers and tried to stay hopeful in my faith, but my mind and my humanness got the best of me. Life is supposed to be fair, right? And when it is not, I became the martyr and could not see any goodness in my present pain. I eventually came around and when I let my faith lead me I also allowed myself to see the blessings in the trials. But that was usually after I fell apart. When I looked back with 20/20 hindsight. I want this time to be different. I don’t want the peace to come after the trial has subsided, but rather I want it to come in the midst of the trial. Once again, my trials come in the form of obstacles standing in the way of this dream I’ve had for 4 years now: to complete my first 100 mile run. A silly dream? Maybe to some. But not to me. It is my dream. It is my passion. And it is part of my unique journey.
This dream has morphed into more than just a one day event. At first I wanted to do it because I thought it was impressive. I wanted to show others that I could do it and I wanted them to think I was important. Yet after two failed attempts, I have realized I need to adjust my reason for this goal. Why is it so important to me? What will it bring me once I achieve it? After each failed attempt I found my tear stained face and tired body pressed into the arms of my father. And for those few moments, amidst the pain of defeat, I felt in my heart a feeling that was better than any medal or accomplished goal. I felt loved and protected. And not BECAUSE I had done something great or crossed the finish line…but rather, because I was broken…defeated. In my defeat I learned that I do not need to DO anything to be loved or cared for or thought highly of. My spirit had fought and had done what it could, but my body just couldn’t keep up. My father didn’t love me more or less. Others didn’t love me more or less. The joy I would have felt from accomplishing my goal would have been great, but it also would have hidden the truth that I only found in defeat. And for that, I am grateful.
This journey of 4 years, that started out as a simple goal to finish a race, has taken on a life of its own. It has become a journey of self-discovery and truth. A journey of pain and blessing. A journey that has asked me many times to face my fears and has given me the trails I needed to overcome them (and when I didn’t, the trials would remain until the lesson was learned). This dream of mine has refined me. It has refined my thoughts. It has refined my actions. It has refined my heart. And like anything that is put through fire in order to be refined, it has often hurt. It DOES hurt. Right now I am once again being put through the fire. But this time, I can SEE that it is because I need to be refined. I believe with all of my heart that there is a purpose for this pain. If I pray for healing and I don’t get it, than I trust that God has something else to teach me. Another path to lead me down before I can truly appreciate the victory that He will lead me to. I have had to look to the past not to fuel my fear, but to strengthen my trust. God has ALWAYS provided. Not always as I would have liked, or as quickly as I would have liked, but He has always watched over me blessed me according to His will.
Last summer I took a trip out West (a spur of the moment trip that came about due to a few disappointments – which I turned into blessings). When others asked me about the trip the one word that came to mind was “TRUST”. The trip showed me, time and time again, the power of trusting. To be alone with no one except God to guide you, you learn the freedom that comes from surrendering. I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but I guess I have realized in my life that I can either choose to believe with blind faith and experience the freedom and peace that comes from it, or I can choose to doubt and rely on my own human mind and fears and deny any sense of spiritual hope. Neither will change the truth of whether there is a God or not, but what it will change is MY Truth…and in doing so it will change my heart and the peace that invades my life. So I choose to believe. Right now, as I see my dream slipping through my fingers yet again due to one injury after another, I stop and bring my mind back to the present moment. Back to truth. There is always hope…until there is none…and none is only something that you yourself decide on. I am choosing to live in hope this time. Right now I am walking through the storm, but I have placed my fears and my hopes in God’s arms and I have complete faith that He has a perfect plan. I believe that He can work miracles and that He will use me to help Him accomplish them in my life. This journey has not been easy, but it has taught me lessons I could never have learned otherwise. The way I am dealing with this current trial has shown me that I am finally stepping out and embracing the lessons of the past. That I am using them to restore me and bring joy to my life DESPITE the disappointment. I am seeing myself not as the product of this one solitary dream, but rather, I am seeing the dream as the catalyst to finding my truth and my joy…not upon completion of my dream, but on the journey to it. For the joy we receive along our journey is in the process, not the outcome.
As I end this entry I ask myself a different question than the ones I wrote when I began. I ask myself did I enjoy the process of writing this. Yes, I did. I could have branched off on many different tangents, but I believe that my heart helped me weave together a story of my life that was revealing to me a truth that I needed to hear and discover through my own words at this moment. And in the truth, there is nothing missing, nothing wrong, nor is there anything stupid. For in truth lies freedom. And in freedom, we find peace.