When I taught in Christian school and worked at the church, our many bulletin boards, church publications, and classroom decorations often depicted brightly colored kites, hot air balloons, and steps rising into the air. Our theme was to rise higher, accept challenges, and grow to be the “you” that you had envisioned. Some of us started on an exciting journey but got waylaid and have not had the strength or courage to start again. But as long as there is breath, there is hope.
Henry David Thoreau, who wrote about so many people living lives of quiet desperation, also penned, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” Is this the same guy that warned us about being stuck in the ruts of life and not singing our songs? Yes, it is. People have many moods, thank the Lord, and our personalities change with our learning and growth.
I have learned that a rut is often a grave with the ends kicked out. I do not want to live my life in a rut. I try to learn at least one new thing every day and often find myself trying something I’ve never done before (within reason, of course, at my age). Ask my grandsons about the time in Branson that I let them teach me to ride the skateboard down the biggest ramp there. Might not do that again now, but it was fun that day. Or the time we decided to go scuba diving when we did not know much about the water or the big reefs that were in it. Thank God, we were safe.
What is that secret thing, that wish, that hope, that plan, you have harbored in your heart for years? Wouldn’t this be a good time to launch out and try it? Some folks refer to the things I have described as items on a bucket list, and I personally believe everyone should have one. In fact, have two or three, if necessary. I have several things on my list that I have not yet fulfilled. And some of you would laugh out loud if I decided to share it with you. Each person has his or her own sense of accomplishment, fears and challenges.
Remember that with God, all things are possible, and He wants us to succeed much more than we want to do so. I believe God is honored when we attempt big things for His glory and not our own. Emily Dickinson wrote, “Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”
Like snowflakes falling or grains of sand, no two stars are identical. Let yourself shine with your own light and follow your own dreams. I read this week, “It is not the journey that creates the soul of the artist or poet. It is each hurdled obstacle that enables the soul’s strength to see what everyone sees but perceive something else.”
Loving to read, I have often found stories of the amazing Booker T. Washington from Alabama. “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed,” Washington wrote. If you know anything of his life, you realize he indeed had much to overcome. There is a museum there with much of his life’s work, which started as dreams and thoughts in his mind.
Let’s think of this day as the beginning of a brand new chapter in each of our lives. And let’s take the time to enjoy each of our successes, no matter how small or trivial they might seem to others. We must remember, too, that life stretches before us with a variety of paths to follow and with many decisions to make. Perhaps this is the time of the year to set new goals and reach for new heights. There’s a big world out there just bursting with opportunities and hope.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.