With it being the year 2020, there have been various adverts and slogans around the idea of ‘2020’ vision. From promotions by eye-care specialists, to ads by holiday companies promoting the ‘vision’ of a year filled with travel and adventure. The idea of 2020 vision tugs at those ‘goal-setting, achievement oriented’ heart strings as we think of the ideal vision of ourselves in various aspects of our lives from health, weight, fitness, career, travel, personal goals and of course, eye-care! : – )
There’s a verse in the Bible that says: “Without vision, the people perish”. Proverbs 29:18. For me it’s important to ask God what His vision is for my life, to ask the One Who sees perfectly and knows completely, without error. From the vision for a nation to that of a single life, we recognise the importance of looking above ourselves for direction to safeguard us from wandering aimlessly. I’d need to study more into what this verse really means, but I thought it was a helpful starting point for some of the ideas I’m ‘mulling over’ in my own mind.
You might have started the year with the sense of what you want to do, be or accomplish: many people do. But after a while, the ‘ordinary’ day-to-day things of life begin to occupy your focus such that you tend to just carry on doing what you’ve been doing.
Changing an aspect of our lives or ourselves generally requires us to be intentional in the pursuit of change. I’m not talking about changes in our lives that ‘just happen’ and that are out of our control, but those which we have a responsibility over. Things such as changing our daily habits, eating more healthily, gaining new skills, exercising, helping other people, investing time in our relationships and pursuing new goals, opportunities and long held dreams.
Sometimes, despite our initial enthusiasm, we end up merely ‘trundling along’ in life. We need to refresh our vision. And we need to remind ourselves that we don’t have to stay the same. Life involves growth, change, development. Without it we stagnate. And change doesn’t have to happen over night. It can begin by taking time to think about what you really consider important, discovering your vision in various aspects of your life and then making small changes little by little, day by day.
Personally, I have come up with the idea of writing daily vision pages, and it is really helping me to live each day with purpose. Instead of having a daily ‘to-do’ list, I write vision pages in which I focus on aspects or qualities that I want to live out and pair these with a corresponding activity or activities.
Transformation is possible, but we need to decide which areas of our lives require change, and then we need to begin, and continue one step at a time…moving closer each step, towards that vision.
Life can leave us feeling crushed sometimes. Disappointment after disappointment can pile upon our fragile hearts so much so that we begin to lose hope. Discouragement can sometimes be worse that what we are afflicted by because when discouragement sets in, as I well know, we lose faith that things will get better for us.
Can anybody relate to this?
Whatever you may be going through right now in life, if you have ‘serendipitously’ (or purposefully) stumbled across this post, I want to plant some words of encouragement in your heart and mind.
I know what it is to be crushed. To watch other people’s lives progressing, sometimes almost seamlessly, while feeling I am face down in the dust, having to get up over and over, punch after punch, hard knock after hard knock.
If you can relate to this, whether that be because of ill health, chronic pain, mental distress, family breakdown, hurt, pain, abuse, loss, loneliness, divorce, bereavement, self-hatred, addiction or whatever other of the many things you might be facing in this broken world, then listen up, my friends.
When we feel crushed, it can feel so very personal on so many levels. Our spirits and hearts may be crushed, and our minds feel ‘broken’ and we’ve all but lost hope. It seems far too great a leap to even think that things can get better for us sometimes, don’t you think?
This is precisely where we need to start to gently and gradually work towards a vision for our recovery. As unbelievable as it may feel or seem to you right now, it matters so much.
How can you do this?
Faith. The Rock on which I stand and on which my Life is built, is and always will be Jesus Christ, so in the first instance I will point you to look to Him in your desperation and to call out to Him – He not only knows what to do, but He knows you personally, having woven your substance into being, giving you the breath of life, and He not only knows what to do, but He also has the power and ability to heal you, restore you, and give you a purpose to use your pain for good. Ask Him, however feebly, to Help you.
2. Inspiration. Regardless of where you stand in relation to my first point, this second one will help you to bridge the mental and emotional gap between where you are now and where you believe you can be. It is quite simply to find living examples of people who have defeated the odds, and to listen to their stories, to watch their videos, to read their books or blogs, to talk to them in person. This really helped me in a dark and difficult time in my life when I was diagnosed with c-PTSD.
One person I found a great deal of inspiration and courage from was and is Katie Piper. In her early twenties she was a young, attractive, blonde, outgoing woman, interested in a life as a TV presenter and she was also involved in modelling. Her career was built around her looks and her bubbly personality. She unfortunately got into an unhealthy short-term relationship and when she realised there were ‘red flags’ with this person and called things off, he retaliated. First she went through horrendous physical attacks by this man, who also raped her. Then he set her up by getting a friend of his to pour acid on her face. She was covered in severe burns from head to toe, and when her parents saw her in the hospital they couldn’t recognise their daughter because she was so severely disfigured. It was a world away from the world which she had once known and any hopes and dreams of her former career and life were instantly burned up with that acid. She couldn’t walk, talk, eat, was in excruciating pain and wanted to die. She now has gone through years of intensive burns treatment, is a writer, has published books about her experiences, set up a burns charity and foundation with the doctor who treated her, thereby helping countless others, has been involved in documentaries helping other survivors, and is now happily married, a wife, mother of two lovely daughters, has her independence again (after being terrified to leave her house) and appears on TV, radio, awards ceremonies and helps other people, as well as now branching out into other roles that have nothing directly to do with her ‘survival story’.
I find this incredible, because at her lowest Katie had all but completely given up. I read her biographies and watched her videos, because to me it seemed far ‘worse’ than anything I had ever gone through. This is not a call to ‘compare’ traumas, because we can’t really do that, pain is pain at the end of the day, but it helped me to have someone to look up to through her writings, almost like a ‘big sister’, and also because her story was so far removed from mine it wasn’t ‘triggering’ in the way other sources that I turned to were. I previously obsessively watched YouTube videos on bullying, bullycide and these negatively affected me because they were my experiences. But looking to other people who made it through their different tough times I was able to find inspiration and motivation. If they could go through all that and make it through then I could surely get through my ‘stuff’. Another person I found encouraging was Nick Vuijicic. I won’t go into his story here because you’ll understand my point of looking to people who haven’t given up and whose lives have the power to inspire your own recovery journey, but look him up.
The amazing thing is you’ll find so many more people whose lives testify to the tenacity of the human spirit, the determination to survive, and then to find ways to thrive, using those adverse experiences and pain in a transformative way, many touched and carried by the Grace of God, and seeing His touch in their lives. People, who like us become more outward facing, as they challenge the pain that draws them in and under, and defy it. People whose compassion is real because they, we, have gone through our own stuff too.
Find your people. They may surprisingly be closer than you think, because everyone has a story to tell. They might be famous people, or they may be the person you see every day but have no idea that they’ve themselves ‘overcome the odds’. Other people don’t necessarily see me, or you, or know our stories. They may think it’s all been plain sailing, but it has not. Similarly, there may be stories, lives of hope all around you. When you find them, if they are in that place where they want to share with you, listen carefully, attentively, and let that hope encourage you as you take your next steps forward, as you simply breathe your next breath.
3. Your future self. As you begin to dwell in the realm of possibility, inspired and encouraged by faith, and by seeing and hearing about the lives of real life people who didn’t let their circumstances defeat them, start to envision your own recovery. Who do you want to be on the other side of this? Forget the impossible, which is to say, forget that anything is impossible, it only seems to be.
So you can’t get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t either. Your vision doesn’t need to be bound by that: what do you want to be on the other side of this challenge? A blogger, a writer, a motivational speaker, a mentor, a compassionate friend, someone who listens, someone who inspires? Be specific if you can. Do you see yourself in front of a group of people who are suffering, telling them how you did it, and that they can too?
Your vision is yours. As you think about these things, you switch the pathways that are focusing on your pain, on your ‘prison’, to focusing on your possibilities.
‘Neurons that fire together wire together’, so be aware of the thought patterns that you are allowing to keep you down or help you up. Keep thinking of the possible and you will overcome the prison of your pain.
Creativity has been a great natural pain reliever for me, because of where it allows my mind to go, and the new neurological pathways that form and get strengthened. It isn’t an easy or a quick road, or way out, but it is a healthy way out and forward and I can’t even believe how much of a difference it has made in my life. Because it takes me away from the suffering, even momently, into a different mental, emotional, and neurological and psychological space. Keep building up your creative outlets, focus your mind on what can be built rather than what is broken, and you will find some soothing in that.
5. Your People
Times may get tough. You’ll need people on your side, cheering for you, motivating you, listening to you or being there when you break down. I have had some really special people on my side, and now it is my turn to be there for others. Find someone, find a group of people, and if you don’t have anyone in your friends or family to be those people, know that there are groups, helplines, charities and networks you can reach out to. In my deep times of PTSD and depression when I felt it was too much for me to keep burdening friends and family although they were always there for me, I turned to helplines and found encouragement there, even if for a moment, and that is what they are there for, to help you through, to help you now. You’re not meant to do this all on your own, so find your people, and believe that one day you will become that person to someone too so don’t feel ‘guilty’ for reaching out and accepting help – we’re all human and we all need that human touch and support. Accept their help and appreciate them. Your turn to reach out and give back will come in due course.
Listen to inspiring, motivational music, find your ‘fight song’, the one that gets you up, keeps you going. Mine, which I still listen to almost every day is ‘Overcomer’ by Mandissa. I like the video that goes along with it because it shows real people, real overcomers. What you allow in to your mind will be shaping what you think about your identity and the possibilities, so make sure it is positive, truthful and going to help you forwards, rather than keep you focused inwards on the pain and suffering. You’re an overcomer.
Gratitude is a far more powerful force than people give it credit for. Suffering will lead you to a greater appreciation of the things most people take for granted – the very ability to breathe your next breath in life. To do the simplest of things, this takes on a new meaning, a new value. Be grateful for the ‘small victories’ for they really aren’t that small at all. I can’t tell you how it felt that I could not move my body or do the smallest of things without feeling like my mind was exploding in a nightmare, depression meant I could barely function it was a massive achievement for me to merely feed myself, to wash a cup, and yet I’ve somehow maintained a full time job, done well and I’m out and about traveling and meeting friends again when I was terrified to leave the house before. Taking a spoonful of food might be our greatest achievement in a particular day. Sleeping through the night an incredible feat. Going to your next appointment. Tying your shoelaces. Brushing your hair when your hands are crippled with pain. Remembering to take your medication. Staying alive. These ‘small things’ can be massive, so appreciate them, and appreciate the many blessings you have.
There is so much on your side, your Creator is with you and for you, people who care for you are propelling you on, there is so much motivation in the lives of others who have made it through. You might feel like giving up right now, like it is an impossibility, but take heart, and simply take that next breath.
We all need vision for our lives. We all need to dream, to have meaning, goals and purpose.
Yet those dreams need to be united with the practical and sometimes ‘mundane’ steps of living them out.
At the start of this new year and new decade, 2020, you may have big dreams for your life. You may already be working towards life long goals and dreams. But the dreams will not sustain themselves and need to be coupled with both faith and action.
At the beginning of this year, I was gearing up to be ‘ready to go’. However, ‘IRL’ the morning of new year’s day I spent playing my violin, shortly after which I ended up coughing, sneezing and huddled up with the cold. I had to leave my parents’ home that evening and they dropped me back at my own flat, so after one day of rest I was back at work on Friday, and this weekend, I’ve been unable to do very much because of this unwanted cold.
I’ve spent the weekend so far sipping ginger tea, sleeping, eating, praying, doing some Bible study, and blogging a little when I’m able to sit up. I’ve been somewhat at the mercy of my body and unable to ‘get up and go’ or be prepared as I would like to for the start of a brand new year. I’m coughing and have a sore throat, and just need to take it easy so that I can recover. So, that is ‘life as it happens to be’ right now.
And perhaps you have dreams, plans and goals you wish to achieve, yet without a doubt daily life will at times get in the way, but the key is not to get side-tracked or waylaid by these inconveniences or challenges. You may not be able to press full steam ahead with your plans, but little by little day by day, keep persevering towards your goals, don’t lose focus or vision and don’t let yourself get discouraged by the inevitable distractions of day to day life.
What is your vision for this year, or for yourself generally? A healthier you? There will be things to trip you up along the way, but keep that vision and that focus, and do a little at a time, day by day, get into patterns of healthier living and thinking and don’t give up. Some days you might not be able to live just as you want, but keep moving in that healthy direction for your life and watch the small and steady steps all add up to a better journey through life.
Do you want to work on all sorts of personal projects, keep your home neat and tidy, and write or study new things on a regular basis, but like me today you find yourself sick and unable to do very much? Maybe like me in the past you’ve also had longstanding health problems, maybe you have more serious health problems to deal with as we speak. Don’t give up. Is recovery your goal? Keep that vision, the positive attitude, and keep ‘chipping away’ at things bit by bit, day by day. No one said there would never be challenges, hard days or disappointment on your journey, but find the faith and strength to overcome and to persevere, just a little at a time, day by day.
Maybe, like me today, you just have the inconvenience of a cold. I’ve come through a lot of tough battles and struggles in my life, so I’m quite thankful that this day is blessed with only a little inconvenience. It’s a matter of perspective. We can do what we can to heal, be thankful that it’s the weekend, and even when we feel tired, worn out, have dishes piled high that we don’t have the energy to wash, have suitcases to unpack and want to but don’t have the energy to get back into an exercise routine, when we want to achieve things and be our best, but we can barely get ourselves ready, even then we can do a little at a time.
Take some rest. Look after yourself. Remind yourself of what is important. And don’t feel discouraged if you can’t do the ‘big things’ today. One of my dreams is to complete my novel, and to use my blog to make an impact on other people’s lives for the better, and most of all to glorify God. Ok, so I’ve written a lot of my novel, but I also want to take it a lot further, and there isn’t going to be much novel writing at the moment with me being unwell. I’d like to inspire, uplift and encourage people through my blog, and I don’t know if this is all too ‘mundane’ to do that right now, but at least I can do this little by little, bit by bit, and these few blog posts can help move me in the right direction as I persevere.
So, whatever it is you are facing today, whether it is a common cold, or a crisis, don’t let these things push you off course from the purpose, dreams and visions for your life. Keep focused, and even when it is tough, just keep putting that one step in front of another. In time to come, you’ll be so glad you did, and so will the people that you end up encouraging! x
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18a… Question:
Are you struggling to move forwards in your life? Perhaps you have a certain challenge or difficulty that you are facing, or maybe things are well with you but you find that you are just drifting along from moment to moment, day to day, with an underlying feeling that you are not really living your best life, and that you are not meeting your potential.
When this is how we find ourselves moving through life, we need a fresh and healthy dose of Truth, perspective and vision. What is a life lived without vision? How can we go anywhere meaningful if we don’t know where we are going? Maybe we have or have had vision in certain areas of our lives but we are getting bogged down with the challenges and realities of the struggles we face on the journey and need a refreshing.
If you find yourself nodding along or quietly acquiescing to these statements, then you are in good company. Many reading this, and the one writing this are in the same metaphorical boat. So, as I seek to encourage you, I also seek to encourage myself, and as I seek to remind myself of the importance of vision in my life I also seek to hopefully provide some words of refreshing, direction and hope for you, my dear readers, as you join me on this journey.
1. Vision: What is vision?
This can be viewed from the vast, broad perspective of our whole life, as well as narrowed down to focus on the more specific. I believe we desperately need both. For me, what truly changed my life is ordering my steps in the Word of God. I have found that over time chaos has given way to calm, hopelessness to hope, helplessness to courage and strength, and aimlessness to vision. Ultimately for myself, the Vision for my entire life temporally here on earth, and for all eternity, is that of a Living Person ~ Jesus Christ ~ my Saviour, Lord, Healer, Best Friend, and Inspiration. My anchor and comfort in every storm. I didn’t always know Him and instead of vision there was a profound sense of despair and lostness. Jesus Christ, the One True and Living God, He Is my Vision. And He gives sight to the blind, when spiritually we have no means to see clearly by ourselves. He Is Light in our darkness, and the entrance of God’s Word gives us Light and understanding.
And yet, I also have smaller, specific ‘visions’ or goals for my life. Without these, and without ordering these according to the Truth of God’s Word, I find that I so easily get overwhelmed by life and unable to properly handle things or look forwards with hope. I end up ruminating on the past or trying to ‘solve’ my own mental problems with little success. The Truth cuts through all of this, and I continue to learn to wield this mighty ‘sword’.
Currently, I find myself considering and having to remind myself to have vision in certain areas of my life:
My identity, a vision of who I truly am, my value and worth as a person, and my perspective of challenging negative things that people either said or did to me (childhood bullying), and to grow in the freedom to live out my true identity as a valuable created being, imbued with value and worth from my Creator.
A vision of recovery in my journey to overcome complex post traumatic stress, and to find healing emotionally, mentally, physically and relationally.
A vision of my goals in keeping connected with family and friends, of helping other people, of taking care of myself, and in accomplishing certain things in writinga book, bloggingand making the most of my hobbies, gifts and talents, including for the good of others which include some future plans and learning new skills, health andwellbeing, and work .
These are just a few among many, but without writing them down for myself, planning specific steps to take and being intentional about them, they will just stay buzzing around in my head without really purposefully going anywhere. What about you? What are you seeking to find, do, be or accomplish in your life just now?
Now, this is the hard part, and it is why we often need regular reminders of our bigger goal or vision and why this is so important to us and integral to what we value in life. Patience is particularly hard when it involves things beyond our control, or when there is no straightforward A + B formula or a set timescale by which we can arrive at where we want to be or how we want to feel. This might involve areas of our life such as relationships as other people are complex, unique and often unpredictable beings just as we are. It might involve a situation in which we rely on someone or something else to work out, we might be waiting for a part in a process of ‘red tape’ or bureaucracy that is slowing us down from moving forwards, it might involve the decision on the part of someone else, or it might be the case that we have been trying for something that just doesn’t seem to be ‘working out’ just now.
For me, at the moment, I find that I need to revive my vision and hope, and have patience in the process of healing and recovery from complex post traumatic stress, and the need to be ‘set free’ spiritually from the heaviness and hurt. It takes patience with myself, as I can see that there might be people that I’d like to connect with, or get to know, but my ‘injuries’ are holding me back or making it difficult to smoothly move forwards in life, and this is frustrating, provokes anxiety and self doubt, and just doesn’t feel all that great to be honest. So while I am writing this for you, I’m also writing it as a reminder for me to look above and beyond the struggles and challenges of the journey to reminding myself of the greater vision and that there may be glitches and bumps along the way that are not so comfortable, there may be things that are completely out of our hands, the positive of which is that this can if we let it drive us to deeper faith, hope, love and dependence on our Creator. And yet, there are certain tools and helps in our own hands that we need to be disciplined enough to use. The A + B = desired result may not be what is happening here, and for some the growth and lessons are deeper and more painful as they may involve a hope being fulfilled in time, or they may involve a painful process of change, growth and a purification of our characters. They may involve loss and grief, sadly. I think of my friends who are struggling with infertility, and it is a reminder to that as we pursue our goals in life, we also need to patiently and sincerely pursue extending compassion and kindness for others and ourselves in the process, or perhaps as being even more important than what we initially set out to obtain.
For me, although there is no straightforward A+B formula or a smooth path for living free, as with all of us there are certain things that I can do and that are my responsibility to do in the process. Whether this be focusing on my relationship with God, nurturing my true identity, refusing to ruminate or let painful past memories and effects overtake me, finding coping mechanisms, grounding techniques and things to do to keep me focussed on the present, making time to nurture friendships, invest time and love into the gifts and talents I’ve been given, continue to work on eating, sleeping, maintaining a routine and exercising for the sake of improving my well being – these are all things that I can remind myself of when the difficulties begin to obscure the hope of the vision. Maybe you can ask yourself today both what is your vision, and what is in your power to do just now, and also are you living by faith, or are you giving in to feelings and false beliefs of hopelessness?
3. Promise: Hold on friends, hold on with hope, faith, love, trust and perseverance. I don’t know what the promise is for your life, but I know that none of us are here by accident, or mistake or happenstance. Your life is beautifully valuable, precious, intentioned and unique. Remember that today, and hold fast to the promise, the Truth that is so freely available to us (please comment below if you want to ask any questions on this and finding guidance in the life-changing promises of the Bible), as you do so much more in your life and in your day than merely drifting along, coping or surviving.
You were made for so much more, my friend. And it is a promise that you should live it…not in your strength, but by amazing grace if you reach out to take a hold of the One Who offers eternal hope and promise to you – Jesus Christ.
Be blessed, dear ones. Even if you don’t believe or have widely different views on things, then I’d still love to hear from you, and welcome your comments and connection. xx (c).