I’m hoping from last week’s letter that you gathered a little insight that might encourage more personal resolve in your life. In life you will encounter difficulty and ‘right-mindedness’ is essential to growing through that experience. I want to expand on each takeaway so that it becomes a little more real and less a bumper sticker slogan.

Takeaway 1: Keep your eyes on the horizon. Life gets increasingly complex the older you get because you increasingly buy into things that matter and thereby take on more ownership of your life. Therefore the idea that something is difficult arises because you care – you care about your marriage, you care about your children, you care about your lifestyle, you care about your reputation, lots of things. Difficulties arise because the vision you have of your life and the reality end up being different. That tight-chested feeling of frustration occurs when reality is significantly different than your expectations. This is God’s normal process of maturing you, weaning you from naivete, toughening up your resolve, helping you gain a critically important understanding of His world-view of loving your neighbor as yourself. None of this happens without the blessing of trials. So staying focused on the long-term horizon and accepting difficulty as a natural consequence of caring about life keeps a balanced perspective which thereby provides important context to your current decision-making.

Takeaway 2: Keep moving forward. Once difficulties do arise – economic problems from a job loss, marital problems from alignment issues, parental problems regarding health, children problems from that endless bag of worries – you are confronted with a spiritual question of how to respond. The more spiritually aware and mature you are the more you “respond” than “react”. Your character, that mental/spiritual/emotional structure you’ve been developing since day 1, will come into play. Adherence to principles, integrity, perseverance, resolving to understand and see it through, patience, humility and grace are all qualities of character that will be revealed and tested during times of difficulty. The desire to escape, to quit, to have a drink, to have an affair, to flip the bird at God is not unheard of. Therefore, looking at the horizon past your difficulties acknowledges that they are short term. But the key is to keep moving forward until answers begin to materialize. Know that these challenges will end and you’ll be stronger as a result.

Takeaway 3: Be optimistic. When facing difficulty, there is a difference between suffering in stoic silence which can increase your isolation in a sort of masochistic selfishness versus being resolved and keeping your own counsel so as to not invite high school drama about superficial challenges. Take a moment to be clear on my meaning there. The difference is in the internal debate between optimism and pessimism as worn on your countenance, your face. For example, projecting your energy as a Debbie Downer intends to invite sympathy and pity. Coming home from work after a long difficult day and shifting your projected energy to one of ‘woe is me’ so that you can justify consuming your wife’s positive energy is a character issue. The internal debate is how much positive energy do you have in your tank? Do you have a little more? And a little more? The idea here is to create new and positive patterns in your life, so being aware of the internal debate between producing energy and consuming energy is vital. To respond is to remain in charge of your psycho/spiritual/mental/emotional self and not devolve into selfish reactions. This is a character issue. Keep your eye long term, keep moving forward, and control the positive internal monologue.

Takeaway 4: Produce goodness. Everyone faces takeaways 1-3. Not everyone is equipped with the understanding about life’s difficulties, the presence of mind to respond versus react, and the awareness of the incomprehensible blessing of God’s Providence. Life’s journey is largely a journey from self-care to other-care. For whatever reason, most people are hand-to-mouth in spiritual energy and consume as much goodwill as is available. Conflict and high school drama is their life. Fear, shame, helplessness, excessive ego and competition are hallmarks of this consumption. However, there is abundance available. You should fear not, worry not. Ego can be shelved because you are not in a fight or flight situation. There is a better way. In a zero sum game when there is a finite pie to split amongst the contestants, then quick competition gains more. But life is not a zero sum game. Expand the pie. Create abundance. Lift others. Zig’s “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want” applies. Love your neighbor as you love yourself is the essence of spiritual maturity. Your capacity to grow through difficulty expands your ability to produce goodness because you see mankind for what it is – in need of your positive energy.

To your spiritual abundance,

Dave Marr

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