Dear Lucy: I feel as if I have been struggling all my life. No matter what I do, I just seem to survive. My brother, on the other hand thrives. I think I am as smart as he is. but I just can't seem to ever reach that special stride and keep it up. What can I do?
Dear MJ: Your letter had more detail than I can share, but you will understand my answer and I believe the answer may help others as well.
You make a wise distinction between surviving and thriving. Surviving implies struggle, lack, limitation, strain and not enough. Thriving is about consistency, ease, forward momentum and abundance. They are also different in that they call for differing mindsets.
Certainly, there are times when thriving follows a struggle. But for me, those struggles are mostly within me. The struggle is all about my deciding to choose to manage my attitude about what I am going through, what I think and feel about it and my willingness to be patient and suffer through.
Suffering is pretty much the price we pay for all worthwhile accomplishments. But suffering is not so much about pain and disappointment. It is about moving through an experience with hope, patience and an expectation of goodness. Change is the nature of life.
Many of us desperately want our lives to change and need our lives to change. Yet, the call to participate and embrace change can be too much for some. Its like being the person who wants to have a better lifestyle, more money to spend, more freedoms from debt and fear who refuses to make the necessary personal changes or sacrifices. Maybe this one is too proud to start at the bottom, or too proud to go get another job, or too proud to search for money to go to school, or doesn't want to be seen or perceived by others as "struggling."
So, then that person finds himself or herself in a position of anger, resentment and judgment of the one who does make the sacrifices, does the uncomfortable, swallows the pride, eats a little "crow," bites their tongue, takes low, sweeps the floor, burns the midnight oil, keeps their business and pain to themselves and presses on. Then, one day you look up and there they are thriving. You didn't see the struggle, so you don't think there was one.
There is no such thing as progress without sacrifice. The nature of change is sacrifice. To get something new in our lives we must be willing to let go of (sacrifice) something that we are holding onto. Maybe it's an old habit, maybe it's unforgiveness, maybe it's appearances, maybe it's who we used to be, or who we have never been except in our dreams. Maybe it's just the ability to give up control!
Surrender to God requires trust in the unknown. Except for this one little thing. We can make the unknown known by choosing to believe that God can't lie. If Jesus was right when He said, "It is the Father's great pleasure to give you the kingdom," then today you can choose to believe this. Having made a decision, you can follow up with identifying and claiming your hearts desire. Speak it out loud. And then make an honest appraisal of what it is that you have been unwilling to change, let go of, give up or sacrifice.
You don't have to do it all at once. Just step out on faith and walk as far as your present light will take you. When you get to the edge, God is faithful and there will be some more light.
Thriving is a choice available to each of us. There is a host of angels around you just waiting to assist you. They help when you ask but you have to listen and act. There is nothing too great or small to ask for help with.
I love that story in the Old Testament (Daniel, Chapter 10) where the angel apologized to Daniel for not getting there right away in answer to his prayer. I have always thought that the angel knew that there were lesser angels watching over Daniel in his absence. And what I really like is how the angel addresses Daniel. He says, "O man greatly beloved...." The angel was bearing testimony of Gods great love for mankind, not just Daniel.
So, O man greatly beloved, make your decision, make your call, let go and let God.
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS. Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)