A very dear friend of mine called in recently to have a talk with me. ‘have you ever felt dissatisfied with yourself such that you feel that there are certain things you need to change about yourself but then you don’t know what those things are nor how to change them?’ ‘Yes certainly’ I replied with a little bit of caution (because you can never really know how much the shoe pinches unless you are the one wearing it; even if you had worn that shoe before, you can only have a rough idea because our legs are shaped differently).
It is my belief that most ‘serious minded’ people will have at some point or the other feel that way. The desire to live a meaningful life of purpose will sometimes cause us to feel dissatisfied with where we presently are and seek to improve on ourselves, achieve more than we are presently doing, and thereby maximize the potentials that we know that we have upon our lives.
Now this is a good way to feel because it will push you to improvement. It was the kind of feeling Apostle Paul talked about in the 3rd chapter of Philippians, verses 13 and 14. We can’t make progress so long as we are satisfied with where we are. We need this kind of ‘holy discontentment’ at times that will make us reach beyond our realm of convenience or comfort and convert our potentials into realities as we best ourselves.
The truth is this: we are never who we think we are; who we are we ought to become. Our best is always ahead of us and that best we need to dig within to reach. I tell folks sometimes that you don’t need to change who you are, you just need to be a better version of yourself. And we must see and feel the need for that change if we are to make that change.
Having said that, there is still more to be said on this issue. Just like my friend, at times this desire can become a problem. It becomes so when it becomes so consuming to a point that it takes away our peace and leaves us almost restless. At this point, the fire that is meant to refine has now turned devilish and is beginning to devour. now this one is not a good thing to feel. At this point, the desire rather than fueling our passion and strengthening our pursuit begins to drain our strength and overtime weaken our will. Rather than encouraging our faith and belief in ourselves, it begins to suggest fear to us and magnify our in-competences. Therefore we spend more time worrying and being disgruntled; the very same time we could have spent being creative and making progress. In other words, the desire begins to do a counter job of drawing us back rather than propelling us forward.
What do we then do?
Do we kill the desire and submit to being satisfied with where we are and who we are now (this by the way is the formula for mediocrity) or do we allow it to keep burning us until there is nothing left of us. While option A seems better as it is better to stagnate than regress which is the ultimate end of option B; there is however an option C.
While we are pushing and pressing towards what’s ahead, we need to learn to mix that with the ability to accept ourselves for who we are today and appreciate that level we are at. Yes we are not who or where we want to be, but look closely, we are not what or where we used to be. Somehow, slowly or rapidly, we are making progress. Although there is still much ahead, we can however also learn to appreciate and enjoy what we’ve got now and celebrate what we have achieved so far.
“Take a break pal and live life!”. While we are longing for tomorrow we must live today. And if a desire is not allowing us to do that, we then should consciously ignore it for a while and give ourselves a break. I am not saying you should abandon it; I’m saying you should ignore it and give yourself space to breathe. Spoil yourself a bit; indulge yourself and enjoy a little bit of life. You need that space!
Go to the movies, go skydiving, go swimming (if you can. Drowning won’t solve your problem. Lol), climb a mountain, go for a joyride, fill your phone with good music and spend time listening to them, go to the gallery and appreciate good art, take out time to laugh and release those wonderful endorphin hormones the doctors have been talking about. Do anything fun and just ‘care less’ about life and purpose a bit and celebrate what and who you are today. One of the principles of motivation is celebrating past success. Celebrating yesterday’s victory today can reinforce good performance tomorrow.
What you are doing by this is creating a relaxed atmosphere where you can release your inhibitions and allow your creativity to flow. Under the no-pressure condition, we can think better and see clearer. We can see the things that we need to change and also see how we need to change them. It’s a retreat and in it you’d find ideas and lessons that will help you carve your path better into that future the burning desire is pushing you towards.
You should also use the break to strengthen your faith by saying simple prayers that requests God’s help and taking time to confess great things about your future. Something as simple as “God has great plans for me and he is working in me to fulfil them” (see Php23) will do. You need to also assure yourself of the father’s love and that will help you find rest and peace and at the same time strengthen your faith.
Now what I am suggesting won’t be easy. Fun is not supposed to be difficult to catch, but when you have a consuming desire to do something else; it would be hard to play. You’d feel like you are wasting time but then you should remind yourself that you are spending it not wasting it. The Yoruba’s have a saying that the retreating of the bull during a fight is not an act of weakness or cowardice, it is simply withdrawing to gather more momentum for a smashing hit that will knock down its opposition. So your decision to catch fun when you could have been working might look like you is regressing but no, you are gathering momentum and absorbing energy to make your quantum leap.
Remember, you need to know where you are going to get there. Zeal without clear knowledge could be destructive (see Roms 10); Zeal that steals away peace and rest is already catastrophic. So create an atmosphere where you can breathe and be at peace. Find that thing you enjoy doing and do it. Do what you love to so that you can do what you need to well. And all the while, never forget that it’s only a break, a retreat, so as to see things better, and gather momentum for a quantum leap and so at the right time, get back to working; to putting those lofty ideas the retreat must have given you to work…this time better because you are now refreshed.
You tomorrow is filled with great things. Today is the bridge that will take you there. If we burn that bridge, we’ll never get there. So live your life today and enjoy your journey into tomorrow. Leave no room for fear but rather create space for faith; let God’s love and peace garrison your heart and guide you into that delightsome future you’ve always dreamt about.
Soaga Afolabi Olusegun