To some people that may seem old…to others it may seem young. To me it is a number. But it is a number that makes me reflect on what my purpose here on earth has been and more importantly what my purpose will be.
When I turned 50, I determined to set goals and reach them. At 53 I wonder what the hell happened to the last three years and why I am still stuck at 50.
Early morning on the 18th (yesterday now) I prayed to God. I admitted my slothfulness, my proclivity to procrastinate, and the fear that keeps me from moving into my future. I started to make new promises but then I stopped, suddenly seeing that I can talk the talk but fail to follow through with almost anything unless I am forced into a corner and have to do something to save my ass.
Fear, I have come to realize, has been the #1 factor that has paralyzed most of my life.
Fear of my father and his anger. Fear of my school peers and their years of endless taunts and bullying. Fear of being a failure. Fear in not measuring up, being wrong or not good enough, or creative enough. and most importantly the fear of becoming me.
Fear has created doubt, and uncertainty in me, and the inability to take chances, and risks. Fear, as oddly as this may sound, has been my idol and I have sacrificed most of my life to it.
I do not want to get to the end of my life and the only thing that I have left is regret.
Regret because I always took the path of least resistance, and therefore lived most of the past 52 years merely existing. I have not been fair to the people in my life living this way.
I. do. not. want. to. exist. this. way. anymore.
I want to live, really live and experience freedom, fulfillment and the life God has for me. I want nothing more than to let the gifts God granted me to change me and bless others.
As I enter my fifty-third year that is my prayer.
7 thoughts on “Reflection”
Mark, you are simply human—a wonderfully, fearfully made human being. I am sure if we are all honest, we can say we all feel the same way. May we all let go of the fear, trust God, and truly live.
Many people think that courage is the opposite of fear but history has more than demonstrated that courage is a very wishy washy thing indeed and anyone ever engaged in a direct combat sport knows that those who find courage and express it in arrogance usually crumble. So when I read your piece, I nearly immediately thought of the story of David and Goliath. Goliath in his arrogance, never recognized his weakness. David certainly recognized his weakness but found his confidence in his faith. It was faith, not courage that caused that young man to stand up, pull out his sling and find the weakness that Goliath ignored.
Each of us in our lives faces a Goliath of our own and that Goliath can be identified by our fears. When I first started speaking my mind regarding the appaling behavior of the church toward the LGBT community, I was filled with a kind of fear, not that what I was doing was wrong but because what I was doing would incite ire. I knew that I had to speak but the fear was still there. In the past two years, I’ve had to face a line-up of Goliaths and it seems that they are arranged in order of increasing size. But as I conquer one, and see the next standing behind him, I realize that while I am doing a work I believe is what God wants me to do on this planet, I also see that the work is primarily being done inside of me.
I am learning what faith is and what it is not. It is not some blinding fog I need to stumble my way through. It is not a crazy kind of wishful thinking that if I just push on ahead, things will work out. It is an understanding that each of us has a relationship with the divine, with God, and that the work of faith is first and foremost internal. I am becoming something [more like Jesus] and while I am becoming, I am also doing and sometimes the two are so intricately interwoven, I can’t tell the difference. Sometimes the doing is so natural, I don’t even realize when I am doing it. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ve traveled much farther than you think you have.
Your father in heaven is proud of you. I, your brother, am proud of you.
A good friend recently asked me a very valuable question, which has stuck with me in profound ways, and helped me to remember what matters most.
“What first captivated you about Jesus?”
The answer might be different for each of us.
But what captivated you, Mark, about the person of Jesus? Not the idea, the caricature, the stereotype, or misrepresentation. The person.
That has become one of the most significant questions I have ever encountered. If it is helpful for you, wonderful. 🙂
If not, it’s at least a darn good question. 😀
Mark – Thank-you for your latest words of wisdom!
I can understand them completely – fear has stopped me from doing so many things in my own life.
Verging on a “significant” birthday – one which I have dreaded – I have been looking back over my life and thinking that I have not much to show for it all.
I seem to be “stuck” in circumstances which I am unable to change and the things I dream of doing are gradually slipping more and more out of reach.
Talking to God helps – though I long “for the desires of my heart” perhaps I just have to accept that my purpose in life is just to be… just to be in the background quietly, praying (which I am good at) .. just living an ordinary life and realising that knowing Jesus as my greatest friend is the most important thing of all.. to forget “me” and reach out to others instead.
Being afraid is not easy to accept, no matter how much we trust in God.
God’s love is far greater than any of our biggest fears and, believing that,
I just know He is hugging me close, and all, will be well, in the end.
Thanks again, Mark – your words somehow arrived at exactly just when I needed them most.
And you are not alone — in fears and in your prayer.
Take more risks and make fewer promises.
selah brother. selah.