I was channel surfing on my radio the other day and the topic of (New Year's) resolutions caught my attention on a Christian music station. The commentators were discussing their findings, corroborated by some “study,” where most of our best intentions and “resolutions” are often derailed (surprisingly) by those around us.
They went on to say many of those cases revolved around weight loss. What they discovered were those who were successful in losing weight found their biggest struggle came not from within, but from those closest to them.
I recall seeing an episode from one of The Biggest Loser spin-off shows. A four-hundred pound man was in a relationship with a woman weighing upwards of 280 pounds. He enlisted himself into this challenge, but thought it would be something the both of them could work on together. As time went on, the man’s girlfriend wanted less and less to do with his “resolution” and continued to eat unhealthily, not exercising nor encouraging or facilitating his determination to lead a better life.
In order to maintain his focus of reaching his goal of losing half of his weight, he made a choice to break off the relationship, move out of the house they shared and live in his car so he could put forth the necessary effort in a better environment to achieve his desired objective.
At the conclusion of the show, the man had lost two hundred pounds, was living a healthier lifestyle and had a new girlfriend. The trainer applauded his efforts for removing those obstacles which hindered him from becoming who he wanted to be.
I don’t understand why it’s (sometimes unknowingly) easier to dampen someone’s spirit than to inherently find opportunities to encourage and keep one another accountable in their pursuits. I have scoured the pages of Genesis to determine where it speaks of man (guys specifically) being cursed with the propensity to razz, mock or dishearten others in their aspirations and good deeds.
Even Moses had to deal with this in Numbers 32:7, “Why do you discourage the Israelites from going over into the land the LORD has given them?”
Granted, not everyone is guilty of acting in this way, but we can all do a better job of reaching out to encourage others in their dreams and God-given passion. Even within the church, we are often the first to judge and recognize (or label) “sin” rather than caring for our brother first. Instead of seeking for opportunities to inspire to love and good works, many look for chances to stifle and depress.
Does this come from years of our own disappointments?
Is it the result of being unhappy with our own life or envious of someone (or everyone) else’s?
Are we afraid their success will make us look like an underachiever or reveal something about ourselves which we must face?
Do we find some satisfaction in saying, “I told you so?!”
If there’s one thing I have learned (and had to re-learn) over the past several years, is I can’t change what people think, feel or say about me. No matter what I do, express, or give to them, they will always have their view - good, bad or neutral.
It becomes my choice to allow their words to hurt me, stymie my pursuits, or change what I do, or I can trust in the One who gave me life and breath and hopes and dreams.
Just the other day, I was told (by a caring individual in regards to my life goals) “You have to be realistic.”
The definition of realistic according to Bing Dictionary (and the person who told me) - practical: seeking what (this person thinks) is achievable or possible based on known facts (or this person’s limited experience).
If I followed this advice, I would only shoot for what is factually achievable. In other words, do what has already been done. I searched all translations of the Bible and I didn’t find one which had any word translate to realistic. God does not call for us to live in a way that can be proven by fact (or repetition), that’s called science!
Trusting in Jesus is anything but being “realistic.”
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see... By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible... Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:1-6).
Following Jesus is having the faith to believe in the unexpected, not limiting your expectations of Him to what you can prove factually or what others tell you is possible (or not), and not listening to the naysayers in your life, even if they are trying to “protect” you.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
A couple of weeks ago, the final regular season football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins was played. For Cowboys fans, it was a bitter loss to a perennial rival in which their quarterback, Tony Romo, threw three costly interceptions, the last one coming as they were driving for a go-ahead score.
At the conclusion of every contest, it is customary for the starting quarterbacks of each team to meet after the game to exchange “pleasantries,” however, after this game a little more was shared. Even though this conversation was meant to be in private, NFL Films microphones caught Washington’s quarterback Robert Griffin III, a devout Christian, express these words: “Hey Tony. I just wanted to say to you, don’t listen to what anybody else is saying about you. You’re a great quarterback, man.”
The win was Griffin’s ticket to his first NFL playoff, but he took a moment to try to encourage a fellow player at a time he knew would be scrutinized and criticized by others.
Surround yourself with those who believe in you and believe in the unfathomable power of Jesus.
If we spend our remaining time on earth listening to our “critics,” who may be our family, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances, we will end up not “achieving” anything. Quit listening to those who tell you to be realistic and practical, and begin dreaming beyond what is known to be possible.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to email@example.com.
Publication date: January 29, 2013