I am finally beginning to recognize the girl in the mirror. It took me a while to get used to her, but I now see her and smile. I actually think I love her.
I did not understand her at first. She confused me. She baffled me…
Then I woke up one day and I knew her – inside and out.
You see, I have been living life at the next level, and I did not know it. When I was young, I used to watch my dad play Zelda. And, forgive my lack of complete video game knowledge, but apparently there are levels. At each level, you learn certain skills and fight certain monsters. You cannot actually defeat the”big” monster and advance without perfecting these skills, building your energy level, going to certain places, doing certain things…fighting smaller monsters.
The problem I had was that, in life, no one tells you when you made it to the next level. You’re just there. Sometimes you see it coming. You get promoted. You graduate. You change jobs. You get married. You have children.
Other times the change is more subtle. You break up with that bad boyfriend. You leave your position…
You walk away from something you once loved…from someone you once loved. And you never look back.
Whether you knew you leveled up or not, the next level is NOT the same. The opponents are tougher. The skills required are more complex. Sometimes you have to change out your team. Some will get to experience the new level with you. Others will have to stay as fond memories of those who helped you succeed once…
Your entire life changes in the blink of an eye, and while you love it, while you are quite proud, you are also tired. You are outdone. You are overwhelmed. But you are learning to love your new level, and all that it has to offer… You being me of course.
So I began to talk to my Father about my disdain for whatever this was I was experiencing. I started on my 30 days of self-improvement. I journaled when I did not feel like talking or writing for that matter, and He did not let me finish this time…could not care less what I had to say. He gave me a few words to relate to the girl in the mirror. He told me to tell but her the same thing she tells her athletes:
Some days will be hard. Tuesdays are tough practice days. The athletes know in advance. They will be tired. They will want to quit. They will feel like giving up…You will feel like giving up. You will ask yourself if this is worth doing. You will wonder if you want it this bad. Do you really want this next level life? The problem is that you told me, you “wanted it all.” You wrote that one day in your journal, and I can give it to you. But that means that you will have some days that you cannot stand. You will have some small monsters and maybe even a big monster. And you will tell yourself, you are better without them. You prefer old monsters. You know the them. You understand them. You actually kind of love them. You are wrong. You want to be better. And this, these hard days, will make you into a champion.
Let it go. I tell my athletes that they cannot do what they have always done and expect better than they had before. They kill me when they tell me what they have “always done” a certain way. Or what drill they have “never done before,” but did fine anyway. Or, even better, they begin to tell me that “such and such” does this or “never had to do that.” My response is always the same…do you want to stay where you are? Do you want to keep running the same time, keep performing week after week with the same results? Do you come to practice every day and run your heart out to be the same?…
You are not the same…Your life is not the same. Your situation is not the same. Your circumstances are not the same. Yes, you, in case you were confused, in case you thought maybe I was still talking about my athletes. I am talking to you…You – the girl in the mirror. One of your many quotes is, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got” (Henry Ford). There are habits that you have that will destroy you at this level. There are also habits that I have asked you to consistently develop, that you have yet to practice consistently. So, please, please, excuse me if I will not take part in your pity party today. You want better. You got to do better. You have got to BE better.
Remember the song from Frozen, the song you heard over and over but never really listened to until a few weeks ago, the week when you were all out of words. Let me remind you what it said:
You’re “never going back. The past is in the past. Let it go! Let it go! And [you’ll] rise like the break of dawn. Let it go! Let it go! That perfect girl is gone. Here [you] stand in the light of day. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered [you] anyway.” (Idina Menzel, © Walt Disney Music Company)
My team consists of freshmen and juniors mostly with a few sophomores (and one senior) scattered throughout. I spend an enormous amount of time on telling two of them how great they are. And I always wish that they could see in themselves what I see. Their minds are their greatest setback. I wish that for a day they could see themselves through my eyes. I wish they could understand the talent they possess. I wish they could recognize that the limitations on their success come from themselves because they have every tool they need to excel – to be state champions right now…already.
You, my dear, are them. I wish you could see yourself the way God sees you. He created you for this level. He gave you all the tools you needed to succeed at this level…right now…already. You are what He needs…right now…already…as is. Stop shutting Him out. He is sorry about the pain you feel on the hard days. He is sorry for all the habits you had to let go…all of the people you had to let go. He is only doing this because He wants better for you.
He has something better for you. You are living at the next level, and this level has better for you. Look behind you. There has never been a level at which you were unsuccessful. You have done whatever He has asked although sometimes with a little redirection and lots of kicking and screaming, but look at your track record.
LOOK AT IT!!! You are extraordinary, my dear…right now…already.
From where I am sitting, it would appear as though, that while you lost some battles along the way, you have won every war…overthrown every big monster along the way. And that would make you UNDEFEATED.
What are your thoughts on living life at the next level?
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