My Life. My Choices. My Future.
By Natalie Brooks
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about change. Maybe it’s because I feel the need for change in my life, but for some reason I feel stuck. I feel like something is holding me back. I spent some time in prayer, meditation, and journaling. These are my thoughts on the subject.
If you or I want to change our lives, it’s not easy. Change is a killer.
On the one hand, we know in this modern day there are a lot of opportunities available where we can blaze a new trail, learn a new skill, or even start a new career, if we want to. We’ve all probably heard some of these familiar sayings:
The world is your oyster.
There are no limits.
The word impossible is not in my dictionary.
Never give up.
If you can dream it, you can do it.
The best way to know the future is to invent it.
Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
Those might be pretty good points, but I end up thinking, “Yeah, right.”
Then I thought I’d bring some truth to the table that I trust; in fact, that I can stake my life on:
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 KJV)
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8 KJV)
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (Romans 4:20–21 KJV)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)
What is impossible with men is possible with God. (Luke 18:27 ESV)
He set himself to seek God … and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper. (2 Chronicles 26:5 ESV)
In my heart I feel greatly blessed because I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I know that God loves me, and I have the source of truth in my hands with the Bible and other godly materials. I have unique life experience from years of living by faith and preaching the gospel. I believe I have much to offer the world, and I should be able to take advantage of the many opportunities around me to serve, give back, find fulfillment, and chart a path toward a legacy that will make my loved ones and Jesus proud of me.
If I have all this, why is it then that sometimes my “reality” is not what I just described? Sometimes I feel small, forgotten, lost, or as if I’m drifting almost aimlessly. In my heart and mind I know I’ve been blessed and have knowledge, understanding, faith, and valuable spiritual gifts. But sometimes I just can’t put it all together to somehow make those gifts work for me.
I don’t know if others can relate to this, or if anyone else has been desperately looking for more, needing to reach out, needing a greater sense of belonging, needing a better career and more money, needing to make changes in health habits and relationships … and the list goes on.
I have found that the longer I have felt this way, the worse it becomes, until eventually I start to wonder if I’ll ever find that path to a better life, a deeper relationship, a healthier lifestyle. When I feel stuck or unsure or unsatisfied with where I am today, it can be confusing or frustrating to try to “fix it” or even to know where to start.
Then I came to a conclusion that was helpful for me: This is my life. It is what I make it.
That might seem so basic, but somehow that brought clarity to me.
My realization was that I have to take ownership of my life. I have to accept without excuses or justifications: This is MY LIFE. No one can change it for me. No one can make my decisions for me. No one can take action for me.
But there are many obstacles that weigh me down and keep me stuck. I made a list of a few of them.
Inertia is one. It’s easier to keep doing what I’m doing than to change. It takes energy, sacrifice, and movement to change the trajectory of my life. Without focused determination to change, I know I will naturally stay on my current path.
Fear is another. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of success, fear of loss, fear of too much hard work. All that fear can be paralyzing. I think fear makes us convince ourselves that what we have right now is not that bad; it’s not worth the risk to change.
Procrastination is another. Putting things off until tomorrow is a recipe for stagnation.
The expectations of others are also an obstacle. How I think people see me can hold me back from making changes and venturing into unknown territory. I am trying to remind myself that I will stand before the Lord alone. I won’t be judged or blessed according to what others thought I should do; God will look at what I actually did, how I lived my life. That is ultimately my responsibility and mine alone.
Lack of clarity is another. Maybe you’re feeling this too. Perhaps you sense in your spirit that you need to change your life. Maybe you’re feeling restless or uneasy. Like me, you might have a gut sense that there’s something new and better that the Lord has for you. But you’re not sure what direction to go or what to do, so you wait. I’ve done that. But I think the key is to do something. As we move ahead, we’ll find clarity.
- It takes courage to own your life and take full responsibility.
- It takes courage to follow God.
- It takes courage to change and to make different choices.
- It takes courage to take risks.
- It takes courage to live life in sync with our highest aspirations, rather than succumbing to mediocrity.
- It takes courage to go deeper and grow into the people we want to be, rather than hiding behind excuses or blaming others.
- It takes courage to live the truth and be the truest expression of who God wants us to be.
- It takes courage to stay the course and weather the storms that will inevitably come once we’ve made a change.
Once we take ownership of our lives and our future, and once we muster up the courage to acknowledge what needs to change, then the next inevitable and irreplaceable step is to take action. There can be no progress or change without action. If we want to change any aspect of our lives, it’s up to us as individuals to just do it.
As Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Today is all we have, and the action we take today is creating our life, our legacy.
So the challenge I face is not complicated:
- Take ownership of my life.
- Recognize the obstacles that I’m facing or that are keeping me stuck.
- Have courage.
- Take action.
When we take hold of our life choices, face whatever has been stopping us, and ask God for the courage to take action to fulfill our dreams, we can rest assured that we are not alone. God is for us. As one of my favorite verses says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
God can’t live my life for me, but if I will take a step in the right direction, He will be there for me. He will fulfill His promises. He will answer my prayers. That’s when those Bible promises come to life, and they represent real power!
When God moves on our behalf, then we can see the fulfillment of our dreams and live the life we were created to live. God is FOR us!
* * *
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has courage to lose sight of the shore.
There is no substitute for hard work.
It is important that you get clear for yourself that your only access to impacting life is action. The world does not care what you intend, how committed you are, how you feel or what you think, and certainly it has no interest in what you want and don’t want. Take a look at life as it is lived and see for yourself that the world only moves for you when you act.
Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.