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thru the fire
It is the sound of opportunity knocking. Wasn’t it loud and clear enough for you?
My daughter texted me late this evening. She and her husband were about to view the 2016 movie “Greater.” She thought I would enjoy it. Afterward, she called to express that it was a wonderful movie, stating that it had moved the two of them considerably. “Greater” is the true story of a young man named Brandon Burlsworth, who rose through incredible odds to achieve his dream of playing for the Arizona Razorback football team. You may ask, “What were his odds?” Brandon’s parents were divorced. His father was an alcoholic. His family struggled financially, so for him to attend college, he needed a scholarship. He was not a gifted athlete, was extremely overweight, and had poor eyesight. Hmmm, one might see any one of these factors as an obstacle to Brandon achieving his dream of playing football as a Razorback, much less earning an athletic scholarship to pay for his education. However, Brandon did not view himself as a helpless victim of circumstance. He did not focus on the odds against him. Instead, he acknowledged his options with an “I can” spirit and turned them into keys that unlocked doors of opportunity for him.
My daughter and her husband recently said their marriage vows of “I do” with an “I can” spirit in Washington, DC, where they live and work amid this Coronavirus pandemic. They are living an “I can” life. They independently moved to Washington, DC, secured new jobs, and enrolled in school to continue their education, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. We are planning a reception in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, in the next few weeks. Some have attempted to shame us for celebrating and gathering at a time such as this. To which I respond, “a time such as what?”
My point is that sometimes we can focus on the obstacles rather than the opportunities. Why not focus on the obstacles with an “I can” rather than an “I can’t” spirit? We forget that every day is a gift, a time to live life fully, gratefully, and responsibly. Although human expectations and freedoms may be restrictive at present, little has changed for Christians in the expectations our Lord has of us. We are never promised tomorrow, no matter how carefully we shelter and isolate, and practice fear. Focusing on “I can” enables us to experience the fullness of life and share our God-given gifts and calling as He intends. However, the embracement of “I can’t” appears to be quite popular these days, with citizens of all age groups throwing their hands up, choosing to focus on the perceived obstacles to completing, obtaining, and participating in life’s work, gains, and pleasures. In my work as a counselor and coach, I get to support people in shifting from “I can’t” to embracing “I can” by refocusing their lenses on virtuous and responsible opportunities and options.
Brandon Burlsworth believed in his calling and worked hard to earn and achieve his dream. Brandon’s Christian faith carried him through insults, emotional and physical pain, financial struggle, and other hardships. What are you focusing on today? What are you embracing that prevents you from achieving a particular goal? What are you accepting that keeps you sheltered and isolated emotionally and physically? I implore you: Do not stop living! Recognize that your obstacles are opportunities that you can use creatively to achieve and accomplish. Show up, work smart, work hard, and never give up. And never, ever stop celebrating, connecting, and communicating with others who need you as you need them.
It is true that we do not all arrive at the starting line with the same gear and skill set.
Life is hard.
Life is purposeful.
Life is glorious.
Former Google executive Mo Gawdat, who lost his young son while on holiday stated, “Happiness is not about what the world gives you – happiness is what you think about what the world gives you.” We will have obstacles, pain, and hardships in our life that we can allow to cloud our opportunities, happiness, and focus. A radical shift is often needed to flip our perspective to one of purpose, peace, and prospect.
You can do it.
Opportunity is knocking. Go ahead…open that door!
Until next week!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernandez-Seltz is the founder of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.