For the last several years I have declared a theme to start the New Year. This one word focus serves as a powerful guide to influence my mindset over the next 365 days. This year my theme for 2016 is Posture.
Full Definition of Posture:
- the position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose, the pose of a model or artistic figure
- state or condition at a given time especially with respect to capability in particular circumstances <maintain a competitive posture in the market>
- a conscious mental or outward behavioral attitude
The first component of the definition, and most recognized, deals with the positioning of ones body. My selection of posture for a theme describes a positioning for me as well, only it is my mind. In order to achieve the goals I have for 2016, I know my mind has to be in the right place.
The year began with the pastor of my church asking a simple question, what breaks your heart?
An easy question to dismiss by some who already had more pressing questions awaiting answers. A difficult question for those who had an answer, but who knew if they acted upon their answer they would find themselves outside of their comfort zone.
What Breaks Your Heart?
What breaks your heart was certainly not a of question I wanted to be asked right now. I thought to myself,
of all times for Andy to ask this question, why did it have to be now?
In my eyes the timing of this question could not have come at a worse time for me. I was in the midst of starting a new company while working through the course work and mentor training to obtain my PCC accreditation. Yet in all my busyness, Andy’s question traveled from my mind to my heart and there was an answer which had to be addressed.
This is the time of year where our thoughts tend drift and we think of times gone by. For some Christmas reflections stir up the best of memories and for others those Christmas reflections conjure up pain and sorrow. It is especially important this time of year to be aware of those around us who may be burdened while most of us embrace a season of Christmas joy and cheer.
Who in your life do you know who is enduring a “first” Christmas experience this year?
- Someone who lost a loved during the year.
- Someone who is no longer married.
- Someone who is experiencing a role-reversal and now is caring for a parent.
- Someone who is looking for a job and is worried how they can navigate Christmas this year.
- Someone whose child can not be home with them this year.
That Day is a play about Daniel Scott Mathewson who has been pursuing the American Dream since graduating from college. His lifelong focus centered on the next deal, the next promotion, the next bonus, and how far and fast he could climb the corporate ladder.
Today Daniel is on the cusp of achieving everything he’s ever dreamed of…right up until the plans he had for his life comes to a screeching halt as he suddenly faces the reality of eternity.
Our endless pursuit of aspirations, goals and dreams come with a price, one which is paid by our family, friends, and co-workers if we are not careful.
My One Word for 2011 was “pause.”
Who would have known this one word could have impacted my mindset throughout the most challenging and rewarding year of my life.
~2011 was a year where my dream of being a husband and a father became reality with one single “I Do.”
~2011 was a year where I faced cancer for a third time and battled to the best of my ability through five months of chemo and trusted God period for what I could not control.
~2011 was a year, had I not slowed down and paused through in the midst of every challenge and in every blessing I would have missed seeing God’s handiwork in my life and the lives of those who joined me in this journey.
My One Word for 2012…hmmm? My One Word focus for next 365 days err…325 days?
After much thought and deliberation it has to be Growth, a word that is so appropriate to focus on after the year I had in 2011. I want to take all the life lessons learned…the good, the not-so-good, and the awesome and grow from them. I want to share them with the hope they may help and influence others in a way that they too can grow from my experience.
For me I’m talking about total…across the board growth, both personally and professionally. Growth in the five areas which I feel encompasses a full and complete life.
If you think of your life as a story, there will always be a plot and sub-plots running concurrently at any given time. Which can produces conflict that causes a paradigm shift in your thinking.
This never really crossed my mind until I read Donald Miller‘s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years –What I Learned While Editing My Life. Miller offers a great lesson in how we all have the opportunity to edit our lives so they tell a better story.
Writing A Better Life Story
Since 2007, there has been no greater plot in my life than coming to understand that my purpose has very little to do with me and everything to do with Whom I serve. Up to that point, I pursued my own American dream: good income-check, nice house-check, company car-check, church-check, family-check, friends-check…my plan, my life, my destiny.
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Martin 1:1 “For where Tom’s treasure is and where Tom’s time is spent, there his heart is.”
I had a head for God and was grateful for my life, but my heart was for me and for what I had determined my purpose to be. All this worked amazingly well for many years, but when your world gets knocked off its axis, like it has for so many of of us these last few years, you can’t help but question a lot of things:
How did I get here?
Where am I going?
Off- Season refers to the time between when my first round of radiation ended and the reemergence of cancer in my life this past June.
Truth be told I never anticipated a second chapter to this story….and if I can be so arrogantly bold I thought my merkel cell story was Won & Done in April.
You would think with an attitude like that I’d been ready to climb the next mountain, tackle the next big project, restructure my life plan, but for me the off-season was a season of complacency. I withdrew, I went through the motions, and had I been honest should have acknowledged I was probably depressed. I expected everything to look different on this side of treatment, but the problem was I never changed the lens I viewed my life through.
I think it is important when you experience something similar to this, you allow time to regroup before immersing yourself back into routines. There can be an overwhelming urge for your life to return to normal, the only problem is what was normal before may not be normal now. Trauma is trauma (could be grief for a lost loved one, could be separation or divorce, could be job loss) and the mental rehabilitation may be more important than the physical rehabilitation with the results far less visible.
For me, not taking time to come to terms with how all this affected me minimized the effect it had on me which kept me from appreciating the potential for what God could do through me.
Wearing a yellow bracelet might signify I was a survivor……only problem was I didn’t feel like much of a survivor, only an existor. OK, existor is not a word, but it is the only term that describes the place I was in. Everything on my horizon lacked significance in my eyes. Sure I had family, friends, a job….more than what a lot of people could say, but I was also turning 46 and there were a lot of things left unchecked on my “to accomplish” list.
As I struggled, a key realization was brought to light when, in the span of 48 hours, I was reminded 3 times the opening line of Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Life–“It’s Not About You”. My lack of purpose and significance stemmed from the fact I was trying to leverage my cancer experience for my benefit, rather than consider that God’s plan all along may have been to leverage my experience for His benefit. Each time “It’s not about you” was quoted it gave me a glimpse of what effect life with cancer could have on me and what God could do through me if my focus shifted from me and was leveraged where there was significance and purpose.
This blog is not the significance I speak of, but it’s a component; doing my job better has purpose because that income facilitates what and where my focus can be leveraged. What the effect now looks like for me is being more intentional in all things and modeling what I believe. Survivor bracelets are great….they raise money, and they show support for the cancer community, but wearing something and being something are two different things.
So before I place a bracelet on my wrist I need to do a little recasting of my DNA, that way the makeup of who I am and Who I serve will be the place I find purpose and I hope that will be the place God begins to leverage this experience.
If what you’re committed to isn’t Who you’re surrendered you will have a tough time finding purpose in your life and an even tougher time finding peace-my life lesson.
Is there something standing between you and the purpose your heart craves?
What is keeping you from removing those obstacles?
trusting God period
Off Season is part three in a series of posts called Life Lessons, all centered around life with cancer. Check back for Fast Forward which will bring this journey into the present tense.