Monday, July 8, 2013

Day #8 - Help Me, I'm Stuck

This is the second time I have led others through a month long makeover process. But this time something different has happened. I did not anticipate encountering so many people who are totally stuck. One person wrote me and said that they couldn’t see past their current situation to even set a short-term goal of seeing themselves on August 1. What a remarkable admission and unusual honesty! 
There is no way I can post what I planned for Day# 8 without responding to this comment. Besides – I am sure there are others who feel the same way.

I have been in that very place. I have been so stuck and so stressed about being stuck that I could not dream, plan, or envision anything ever being different. I was once in such bad shape that in the middle of a speech I was giving to some students I stopped speaking, apologized for how bad I was and promised to return some day when I got my act together. Nothing could be worse for someone whose dream was to be a public speaker! Here is how I got out of that very deep valley.

First, I had to admit that I was where I was. There is no way to move beyond your present position or condition without honestly admitting where you are. That applies to any situation we encounter in life. It may be debt, family relations, health, habits, faith, or anything else. It makes no sense to act and think as if everything is all right when its not. No amount of motivational materials, dynamic sermons or positive thinking is a substitute for looking in the mirror and admitting that you are stuck. You don’t have to broadcast it to others – but you at least have to tell yourself the truth. I made a list of everything in my life that needed to change. Everything.

Next, I had to think hard and re-capture my dream. Everyone has had a dream. It may require going back to fourth grade when you were in love with your teacher, your principal or your pastor. Or it may be when you were in seventh grade and dreamt you would be president of the United States. But every one of us has had at least one dream. When you remember what it was, the memory alone – or I should say the act of remembering - will change your mental state. That may have been your last positive thought – and it may have been completely outlandish – but your future depends completely on your ability to look away from your problems, your failure, your mistakes, your challenges, your barriers, your tragedy, your disappointments  and even your past sins. You need an internal reason to feel better about your external possibilities. And there is something inside of you that may be dormant but it is not dead. Think hard and remember.

Now allow that experience – allow that moment of recollection – to be the springboard that you need to begin dreaming again. If you could dream one time, you can dream again. It may not be the same dream. But it may surprise you that a childhood dream may have been more accurate than you thought. Especially if you realize that your dream may have been a “how” and not a “what.” Think about it. Suppose you dreamt of being the president. It was probably because of what you thought you could do as the president. Even if your chances of becoming president now are zero, the chance to do something significant on some scale is not far fetched at all.

If you notice, for just a minute your mind left your problems and you took a one-minute break from feeling stuck. I remembered that had I dreamt of being a successful public speaker. But at that moment I didn’t have money to get my car fixed, I couldn’t break a habit that I thought would kill me one day, and I felt like a complete hypocrite because everyone who knew me thought I had it all together. I had to start over. To do so, I had to dream again.

Once I started to dream again, I started making very short-term plans – like three hours at a time. I didn’t project where I would be in three years or one year or six months or even three months. I had to put myself on a plan that projected three hours at a time. Yes – three hours! Someone said that the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time. I had to re-build my life one “bite” at a time.

If you are having a problem seeing past your problems, you will have to dream small dreams and set goals in three hours increments. Perhaps you need to open some unopened mail – or call three creditors to arrange a new payment plan – or call an attorney to review your options – or find two people you can trust with whom you can share your troubles. But do something new – something bold - something proactive – something responsible – something helpful – something positive – something concrete – within the next three hours. And then do it again during the following three hours. Then you are on your way somewhere great - traveling three hours at a time.

Then pray – ask God to give you the strength, the insight, and the good sense to do something meaningful within the next three hours. And while you pray, please know that many others and I are praying with you and for you. At the end of the next three hours, thank God for allowing you live and breathe for the previous three hours realizing that someone didn’t make it through those same three hours. If you do make it, God allowed you to make it for a reason. Your present test will be the basis of your future testimony.

God bless you as you begin to dream again. 

P.S. This two minute video clip may help you. If it does, watch the rest of the message and share it with others.

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