One of the most consistent things about life is there are always challenges for us to find our way through! These challenges come in many different shapes and sizes. Most affect a small portion of our life. Very seldom do we find ourselves being challenged on multi-fronts at the same time. Being challenged on one front can be tough, but it can be managed. But — and it’s a big emotional “but”— let the challenge come at us from multiple directions, and the result can be our life feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
COVID-19 is frightening, not only because it can kill you, but because it has taken our life as we have known it and torn it apart mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. No part of life has been left untouched. All of us have been affected in one way or another.
2020 will go down in history as the most “challenging” year most of us have lived. As I look at what this year has brought to my life, I see it as “THE YEAR MY FAITH HAS BEEN AND IS BEING TESTED!”
I consider myself to be a very mentally strong person. I have been through so many peaks and valleys. I’ve had to learn how to remain strong as the winds of life have blown challenges throughout my life. Yes, some were not as difficult as others, but no matter the challenge, it always attacks my faith in whom I am, what I believe, and the depth of my trust in the “who,” “what,” and “why” of my life.
In preparing for my 2020, I laid out “what I wanted to achieve (my purpose), “why I wanted to achieve this” (my purpose tied to an agenda), and “whom I was going to have to be to make it a reality (my commitment to my purpose and agenda.)
I was moving forward with great clarity, and then, without my permission, COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into all my plans! This “new abnormal” was not what I had planned for, but it quickly became the reality I had to face. My speaking calendar was emptied in the blink of an eye, and my dream for 2020 became a blur!
Got to tell you I was stunned, felt blindsided, scared, and for the first time in a long time, found myself standing in an emotional jungle where the unknown was leaving me feeling lost and paralyzed. I consider myself a strong person, but this uninvited virus took my life and turned it upside down!
I am a dreamer, but my dream was now a dark room. I am a planner, but my plans were erased without my permission. I am a confident, driven person with a strong belief, trust, and faith in God and myself, but now I felt I was standing on shaky ground with my life open to self-doubt, increasing worry, and struggling with the uncertainty surrounding my life. I found myself struggling with “what am I going to do;” how am I going to do it;” “why am I feeling this way?”
If you know me, you know my emphasis on pace. All a sudden, I was internally running, feeling out of control. My clear path of planned action became a blur. I couldn’t catch my breath; I was running out of emotional air. I felt mentally paralyzed! For the first time in a long time, I looked at myself and thought, “I don’t know what to do!” I don’t know if you can identify with this.
I knew I had to do something, but I felt frozen in a time of unknown, where my life was no longer being controlled by me. I was looking at my life from the outside-in and no longer from the inside-out. My mind screamed at me, how many times have you told others your life will always be tested.” Sometimes it’s easier to be the teacher than it is to be the student. I knew I had to do something!
I took a deep breath, slowed my life down, and began listening to what my mind was saying to me. When you are out of sync with yourself, it can become challenging to shut the negative voice off, go back to my lessons from yesterday and search for the lessons I could build on. Once I got back to looking at my life from the inside-out and let go of the negative the media was feeding me, I was able to put together a plan to getting back to being the authentic me.
I want to share with you the thoughts and lessons I am now building my life upon today.
#1: My life will always be tested!
#2: The tests I am given are good for me!
#3: The tests of life will never end!
First – My life will always be tested!
When I paused and looked at what was happening to my life, I realized this is simply testing my belief, trust, and faith. Do I really believe in what I say? Is my foundation of trust strong enough to handle a test of hurricane strength? Is my faith fact or fiction. My lesson here was, “If I can’t be tested and pass, then I have simply been lying to myself.”
Second – The tests I am given are good for me!
In order to become stronger at being the authentic me, I must accept the tests given my life are good for me. The lesson I learned was, the tests of life don’t make life easier; they make me stronger. If you want to know who you are, the depth of your trust, and the strength of your faith, accept the tests you are handed as the real definition of your character. The challenge is — every test your life is handed will take you out of your comfort zone. Many people think that having a comfort zone will make them stronger, more confident, and prepared. Reality is, it’s just the opposite. When one is living in a comfort zone and feel safe, they become risk lazy. When one exists in a comfort zone where they feel confident, they become fearful when that comfort zone is shaken. When one is living in a comfort zone, they are never prepared for uncertainty, the uncontrollable, for the unknown.
Being tested is good for us. It makes us open our eyes and see the false sense of security we create for ourselves. The test is a wake-up call requiring us to take the blinders off.
Third – The tests of life will never end!
I will always be tested. As long as I am alive, my life will face tests! This realization was a real wake-up call for me. I must always be preparing myself for life. I must always be strengthening my belief in what God has placed me here to do; I must always be shoring up my trust that there is more for me to achieve with my life; I must stand firm in my faith, which is the demonstration of my belief and trust.
Faith is what allows me to turn the unknown into an adventure, having the willingness to risk when the blueprint is not complete and having the internal calmness that says, “I Can, Because I Will!”
The lesson I have learned is faith is what makes today a possibility and tomorrow filled with opportunities. As I look at all this, I’ve come to the understanding that everything worthwhile in my life is always uphill! Yes, there will be changes in the terrain that will challenge my resolve, inner strength, and resilience. I must look for the plateaus where I can pause, rest, and recharge. This does not mean “stop and not complete the journey.”
The test is always there to help you redefine yourself. Sameness is a trap that shackles you to yesterday. Every test causes you to look at yourself through the mirror of truth. The test will expose your real agenda for life.
These are challenging times in which we are living. Are you willing to adapt where you need to adapt, make the adjustments that need to be made, and align yourself around the path that is awaiting your commitment?
These are times about finding a new purpose for your life. Are you willing to slow down, look at where your life is off track, and make the course corrections by allowing change to be your friend?
These are times about becoming stronger at being you. What is guiding your life right now? Is it your belief, trust, and faith or your doubt, worrying, and uncertainty? Look at your behavior. That states your answer.
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The Flint Team