Have you ever watched a car that’s stuck in the mud? The wheels are spinning fast enough to get a speeding ticket, but the car doesn’t budge. Does life ever feel like that?
Sometimes life seems out of sync. We’ve got the accelerator on the floor every day, but we’re not gaining much traction. We feel spent every night but we go to bed wondering, “Is this it? Or is there more?”
FOMO can become a lullaby that won’t let us sleep.
Cars can’t pull themselves through miry mud any better than we can spur ourselves to find satisfaction in day-to-day slime. Without something substantial to grip or hold onto, there’s no forward progress. No camaraderie. No celebration.
Tires are designed to work by drawing or pulling something over a road or a trail. It’s the same with us. Without a solid foundation, we're stuck. And, here’s a strange, but true phenomenon:
We can get so good at spinning our wheels, we forget that life isn’t designed to be lived in the mud.
We can stay stuck in the ditch if we become famous for our prowess at mudslinging, shame-shifting, or pointing fingers. Trash-talking earns trophies in the ditch.
If the only single we ever record goes platinum in our season of pain, we may wake up one day and realize our most potent legacy is the song we wrote about bitterness and beer.
In the ditch, we can type-cast ourselves with a lead role in the movie “Adolescence Forever” or "Hate Matters," but eventually the curtain closes and we realize we don’t know how to live in the real world as a caring adult.
Sometimes we need to be reminded we don’t have to make our home in the ditch we find ourselves stuck in. We don't have to become the mascot for our present-day struggle.
A stuck vehicle can find relief in a tow truck, but a stuck human needs more.
Enabling happens when we live life as a human tow truck--or when we're dependent on one.
Humans are not meant to be tow trucks.
Dragging someone through an asynchronous life won't help them out of the ditch.
In the ditch, we've lost our grip on reality. What’s supposed to be growing is stunted and what's supposed to have been pruned by love has taken over our lives.
We're out of sync. We need a re-boot.
Many of us need a personal leap year. A leap year is a calendar year that contains an additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year.
A personal leap year can be the gift of time we need to loosen our grip on distractions and help us plant our flag deeply in the soil of truth. It may not take a year, but deciding to re-boot our lives will require us to spend our time reflecting on how we spend our time.
Without re-synchronizing ourselves with reality, we'll waste our time and resources complaining about mud or redecorating a world full of ditches.
And, there is great hope. When we let go of the mud we've learned to sling, we can find our collective footing. We can hold hands instead of holding onto hatred.
Together, we can discover a new life based on truth, not false traditions.
In healthy communities, traction happens. Side by side we build new strength to climb out of our struggles and discover our second wind.
What's the first step?
The first step is finding a real foundation. We need something to hold onto that's not slippery or slimy. Discovering and declaring your personal values is a good place to begin your re-boot.
More often than not I need a pencil and paper for this kind of adventure. Putting real words on real paper helps me find reality. When I write down what I'm thinking, I can literally see it for what it is.
When I write things down, I can sort the stuff that lives in my head into categories like "truth" and "lies."
These five questions are invaluable for helping you discover your core values. The questions are simple, but not easy. Simplicity is clear, but not without discomfort.
Encourage yourself to answer at least 3 or 4 of these questions in your quest for your core values.
What is consistent in what I do and what I say?
What is consistent in what I don’t do and what I don’t say?
What do I live to protect?
Not simply an acceptable criterion or minimum standard, what makes me different because it is my rallying cry for life?
What truth am I willing to live by that will cost me in some way?
If you're like me, you want to see what this discovery process is going to look like when you're done. You want a model of some core value statements so you can write your own.
My core values are clearly expressed on our LOVE IS FEARLESS website. If it's helpful for you, follow this link to read mine as you're working to discover your own. Here's WHAT WE BELIEVE.
What's the next step?
Discovering your core values is something many people never take the time to declare. Congratulations on finding your foundation for living.
The next step is learning to experience your life in sync with your values. This step will require more self-reflection and more paper!
Using your core values as a plumb line, now it's vital to see exactly how and where you're spending your life in ways that are out of sync with what you say you believe.
The next list of questions will take some time to answer honestly. And, can I protect you from any shame that tries to convince you to hide from reality or shrink back in defeat?
Hiding and shrinking are habits we learned in the ditch. These habits aren't going to serve us very well now that we've decided to thrive, instead of simply survive.
The truth is, we all have chapters in our lives we're afraid of writing about--even in our own journals. We don't like to remember the trauma and abuse that hurt us and left us out of sync.
But the Truth is the only way out of the mud. Trusting Truth is the only path to recovery.
This is a healing climb, friends.
These questions will help you take the next step:
What am I famous for? What do people know me to speak about?
Am I famous (heard) in an echo chamber or in a diverse world?
What is the source of my peace? What am I at war against? Would those closest to me agree with me?
Who’s not listening to me? Why not? What is their reason? What is my part?
Who am I not listening to? Why not? What is my reason? What is their part?
Who taught me to spend my life the way I do? Is my leader a good role model? Do I follow them because they avoid the same things I do out of fear or because they risk a life that’s different because of what they love?
Where is the tension in my life that helps me grow? How do I respond to this tension?
When life is out of sync, what am I afraid of? What is the fear in my life that keeps me stuck in fight/flight/fawn or freeze?
What do I believe to be true about my own identity? What do I believe about God?
Who do I trust that can help me sort my ideas into lists of truths and lies?
Finally, decide who you trust as a source of truth.
A true confession: When I look in the mirror and all I see is the best I can hope for, I'm tempted to write a hit single about bitterness and beer or compete for a trash-talking trophy.
Life in this hurting world is hard. I need help.
I've been hurt, so I need a healer. I've hurt people, so I need forgiveness for the wrong that I've done and the shame that haunts me if my best strategy is hiding in the ditch.
Jesus is the re-boot button. He is the source of truth. He is the source of new life. And, he is the source of the faith that's required to receive it all.
Everything God gives us is a gift. Jesus paid it all.
When we begin to believe the truth about who God says He is and who He says we are, a new synchronized life begins. Without this Source of truth, we will make up our own false traditions.
False traditions keep our wheels spinning and prevent us from gaining any traction. Truth offers someone to hold hands with who can heal us and help us.
So, what about you? Will you trade in the trophies you've earned for a starring role in a movie that's not based on a true story?
Will you hold fast to the Love you can never earn and that will never lie to you? Love that will never leave you or forsake you?
Let the adventure begin, friends. There is great hope.