I began 2019 with a renewed sense of hope. As I watched the fireworks light up the night sky, I did not heave a sigh of relief the way I had at the beginning of 2018. I did not participate in the “good riddance” rants or focus on the woes of the past year that were now behind me. I smiled because I made it. I smiled because I survived. I smiled because I had already begun steps to a brighter tomorrow…and even if tomorrow was not brighter, a day just like today was fine with me.
I smiled because for the first time in almost 10 years, I started to dream bigger. My dreams were finally bigger than my doubts.
I spent a large portion of 2018 recovering. I looked around, and I saw all these people choosing their words for the year. I envied people making resolutions and plans, and I thought to myself, “That used to be me.” I used to have big dreams so I tried to find that girl I used to be. I tried to find the girl who chose the word “balance” when she became a mother of two. I tried to find the woman that chose to “declutter” her 2016. But every time I sat down to pick my word, I remembered the hurt. I looked at the scars, and my heart filled with discouragement…until one day it did not.
One day, I decided to be positive in a negative environment. One day I stopped running to the window for every loud noise and car ignition sound to make sure my car was still sitting in my driveway. One day I decided that the David within me was larger than the Goliath in front of me. One day I stopped focusing on what could go wrong and decided that I was still blessed, and I was still living the life. One day, I decided to dream bigger.
For anyone trying to find their way out of doubt and discouragement, this is for you.
Go back to basics
Think back to that place where you were before you life treated you unkindly. Think of times when you wanted time to stand still, when you wanted to live in that moment forever. Think of a time when you believed you had accomplished the impossible. Remember who you were then. What did you do to make that moment happen? What did you do to keep it?
I think of my track career, when I broke the school record and the Southland Conference record. I think of when I stood on the podium as an NCAA All-American. I wholeheartedly believed it would happen. I fed myself positive thoughts and Bible verses. I worked hard even when I did not immediately see results…
I think of the day I married the love of my life. I spent so much time trying to impress him, so many days building him up. We spent hours together in conversation, on dates, learning who he was, who I was, and who we were. I just knew that this time, maybe life would smile in my favor.
I took a chance…knowing that even if I failed, I had given track everything I had to offer. I had given my relationship all I had to give. I gave life every bit of me.
Take a break
Sadly, life does not always work out as planned. I was never a national champion. I had boyfriends who came with babies and diseases WHILE we were together.
Sometimes you give life all you have, and you come up short. At those times, recovery is absolutely essential. And recovery only comes when you take a break. Without a break, you cannot heal. Some things, you cannot just power through.
Some of you are wondering how you can take a break. You are IN your situation. There is no break. You are a single mom. You are in the hospital. You are out of work and hustling to make ends meet. There is no time for a break. There are no opportunities for breaks.
Find a way to take a break anyway. Hide from your kids in a closet (*smile*…but really though). Open a window and empty your mind for a moment. Take a walk outside. Sometimes your greatest victories come when you stand still. Stop hustling and breathe.
The only way out is through.
You are tempted to give up right in the middle. Doubt and discouragement are all around you, and you would like to turn around and return to where you were safe. You took a turn, and you are tempted to cut your losses because you are unsure that what is ahead is better. Maybe it is better where you were. Maybe you like what is familiar even knowing what is familiar has long outlasted its purpose. You are wrong. Your destiny is right on the OTHER side of THROUGH. You dreams are not behind you. Getting there is never easy. Obstacles are the only way. Challenges are the only way. The only way out is through.
For me, doubt ties directly to hope. The higher the hopelessness, the higher the discouragement. At one point, I had no dreams left…not big ones. Do not get me wrong. I had “regular” dreams. I dreamed for well-rounded kids with big faith. I dreamed of a forever happily ever with my husband. I dreamed of a career filled with purpose that allowed enough money for me to live comfortably.
That is where the dreams ended. I did not think I deserved more. Too many people were hurting. Too many people did not have as much as I already had. Too many people needed their dreams fulfilled more. So I stopped praying for more.
Somewhere on the way through, I changed my mind. I got an idea that gave me life. I decided to dream bigger. My prayers got bigger. My faith got bigger. Right there in the middle of my bigger faith, bigger prayers, and bigger dreams, my doubt, discouragement, and fear looked so small…so insignificant.
So for those searching for something more than their current situation…for those who cannot see past right now, keep going. Keep hoping. Keep believing, and keep dreaming. And should you happen to get stuck in the middle and feel the urge to give up …
Should you happen to come across doubt and discouragement that try to deter you from continuing the journey…
What are some of your hopes and dreams for 2019?
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