One evening last month while reading a book by one of my favorite authors, John Eldredge, titled – “The Journey of Desire”, he asked me to put the book down for a few minutes and ask myself the following question – “Will my life ever be what I so deeply want it to be, in a way that cannot be lost?”
Well, to be honest, it took me more than a minute to ponder this question. I have been thinking about it for weeks so I started wondering if other people, when asked the same question would just click past it instantly or would some folks actually decide that the question deserved some insightful, enlightened and honest consideration.
So, if the question triggers any emotion inside you, I hope the following will help you take that inner journey in a productive way. If you don’t give a rip – have a nice life and hit the “next” button on your device.
I am not using any of John’s material in this article other than his original question – what follows is my personal take on the importance of this question and the thoughts, ideas, questions, or emotions it might bring to the surface in you and for you.
I have been on this highway of life for more years than I often like to admit, and the journey has had its share of amazing opportunities and successes and devastating and life-changing failures and disappointments. But as I have traveled from one year to the next, sure I had goals, plans, dreams, hopes, and desires but many of them just sort of stayed on the sidelines as I traveled the world speaking and training audiences in twenty-six countries.
In addition – as an author of over seventy-five books including a million-seller and a few international bestsellers I kept preaching to others what life was teaching me the good, the bad, and the ugly – and again often not heeding my own wisdom, lessons, and experience.
So here I sit – asking myself – “Is my life turning out the way I really, deeply want it to?” And the answer – yes and no. And it’s the no’s that cause the most pain and even tears. Sure, I’m happy with the yes’s – who wouldn’t be? And just to be clear this article is not a cathartic release of all of my mistakes and frustrations to earn either your pity or your scorn, I just want to share the value both short and long term as well as the potential personal insights that can alter or change the direction or trajectory of some area of your life.
I would like to offer just five quick areas regarding this question for your consideration.
1)Adversity or a blessing – In life, sooner or later, we all have to overcome adversity, challenges, and pain of some kind but we also all have known many blessings, too many to count in this article, suffice it to say that if you are reading this you have had more positives than negatives during your life so far, but often these outcomes can depend on how you choose to define or interpret the idea of – negative & positive. Regardless of the number of negatives, you may feel you have experienced I will guarantee you have had far more blessings. So, the question becomes – have you let any of the negatives get in the way of achieving or reaching your life desires at this point in your life as you hoped they would have turned out by now? If so – which ones and why?
2)Your response to stuff you didn’t ask for – There are three ways in life to deal with disappointments, setbacks or failures – accept them, deny them or learn from them. The first two unfortunately often cause us to remain stuck in the past, settle for what is rather than what could be, and many times retreat back to previous safe zones, attitudes, or mindsets that will ensure we never achieve our hopes, desires or dreams. The only way to keep moving forward is to accept the reality of life’s problems or challenges as necessary to become wiser, better or stronger. And without this life approach, it is assured that dreams and desires will always be that – just dreams and desires that you hope one day will show up just because you showed up. Sorry – that’s not the way it works, and I can say from personal experience that just showing up isn’t enough.
3)Do dreams really matter – Sometimes our dreams or desires are just beyond our reality of what we are willing to pay or sacrifice or do to have them become real for us? This doesn’t mean we should only dream of what we feel might be right or possible, but it does mean we need to make the adjustments necessary, learn the appropriate skills, or accept the lack of success with poise and maturity.
4)Who or what can you trust – Sometimes life seems to know what is better for us in the future than we do. What do I mean by life in the previous sentence? Life for each of us is a series of accidents, situations, people, events, and outcomes that we all get. Some of these can teach us while others can cause disappointment and pain. Some help us grow while others keep us stuck. As these various circumstances come into our life whether a flat tire or a new lasting relationship, a new career, or a serious health challenge they give us the opportunity to do three things – 1a)Learn from them, b)Deny or avoid them, and c)Ask life simply – “what am I supposed to do with this?” In the end, we all get inner guidance regardless of what you want to call it; Devine help, Universal Consciousness, Hunches, Insight – whatever – in the end life is a teacher and sends us all kinds of stuff and people to help us learn. Does this mean life is a “person or God, or Alien?” Again, call it what you will but let me ask you – have you ever wondered what to do with a situation or challenge and you got this inner message and you didn’t follow it and things got screwed up? Ever gotten this inner message and followed it and things worked out in your favor? Well, what was this inner voice? I don’t have a clue but what I do know is we can trust it or ignore it and which approach do you think might, in the end, be the best?
5)When it’s over – We are all given so many years to yearn, hope, desire, dream, wonder, and yes, work, play, and yes experience a wide variety of life outcomes. But in the end how our personal journey progress whether towards our desires or far from them is a combination of a wide variety of choices, decisions, actions, beliefs, etc. Here’s part of the problem, we don’t have a clue as to where these choices and decisions will lead us or end up. We don’t have the slightest knowledge of who we let into our lives and who let go of how these choices will impact us over the long term. In the end, this is a good life strategy because can you imagine what your life would be like if you could plan every action, step, and choice and control the outcomes? I know what you are thinking – “yes, I would love this privilege – I could determine the quality of my life and my destiny.” But what if your choices were limited by negative emotions or attitudes like fear, regret, or the lack of experience or knowledge or even accurate information – do you think you could make some wrong moves?
In the end, we are all “out of here” at some point so the real question is – are you living each day doing your best to make the best of that day or assuming you will fix or change things tomorrow? Good luck with that one.
Yes, there are other reasons why as time and the years pass that we fail to achieve the life that we really wanted deep in our Heart and Soul, but from personal experience, someone who has not achieved the life I thought in every way one day would be mine, I can admit with humility, gratitude, and honesty that I have often wished my present would be different and my past would have had less chaos, dysfunction, and frustration, but I am the one who got me here and I am the one who made the decisions and choices of the past so like it or not – blame, finger-pointing and even anger won’t change a thing. As my daughter is fond of saying, “Dad, it is what it is – deal with it.” Don’t you hate it when what you teach others at some point comes back at you from them – or is it just me who has to deal with this stuff?