The Almost Life…

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future;

it is something you design for the future.”

~ Jim Rohn

It has taken an act of my will to get me outside on this cold, crisp morning . . . and I’m surprised to see a rose attempting to bloom. I love this rose bush. She grows the most gorgeous peach-colored petals that when they bud out have the softest yellow hue. Today, somehow missing the hibernation cue, she has endeavored to produce one last bloom. Cold nights have stunted her progress. Frozen, the beautiful rose bud has stopped just short of its potential fullness.

Standing Outside the Fire is a song title by Garth Brooks that has become a sort of mantra for living my life. I identify with the line: “Life is not tried if it’s merely survived standing outside the fire.”

The ‘almost’ factor seems to exist in most of us in the same place where fear finds its toehold in our hearts. Fear, it appears, has many disguises like: worry, dread, anxiety, apprehension, suspicion, dis-quietness, timidity or dismay. These heart captors can grow a life of their own until we are crippled into the ‘almost’ trap. We almost made a change in our life for the better but instead played it safe. Or we did make a change in our life without thinking through the negative risks or the effect our actions might have on others.

I often hear the comment, I’m trying to figure out ‘who’ I am. We try on personalities and lifestyles to fill the void that begs to be complete. We sacrifice our integrity, core truths, and honor in pursuit of short-term joy and validation as people, while the enemy plans his next attack on us.

Perhaps instead of asking ‘who’ we are, we should search to find out why we are still here on earth by seeking the ‘what factor’. What is it that I’m supposed to do to give back to mankind? I believe each of us are knit together by our creator with one special gift and a job that only we can do. And I believe each person has been given the opportunity to bless the people in their unique circle of influence. Our job is not to live our lives to serve ourselves but to give to others the best of ourselves. Doesn’t it seem that by finding out our ‘what’ we will discover our ‘who?’

As a mentor, a teacher, a parent and a friend, it is painful to watch someone dear to my heart struggle to answer the question of ‘who’ and come up with an almost life. I trust that when God spoke these words, “The thief comes only in order to steal  and kill and destroy: I came that they may have and enjoy  life, and have it in more abundance” he meant them for our good.

I know we often think that we are victims of our circumstances or that we just have ‘bad’ luck. It seems there is a thief, a traitor to our fullness of life, and we are letting this enemy win! What is the worst that could happen if we put to death an ‘almost’ life and passionately embraced a life of abundance by choice? If we step out in faith and become all we are intended to be, what will we find?

If we pursue the ‘what’ of our lives with zeal, the ‘who we are’ would be un-necessary to define as we live our lives in fullness. Then and only then, the ‘who we are’ search will be completed.

What if our ‘passions’ and our ‘joys in life’ really do come from a creator that has placed us at the foot of a pile of gifts purchased just for us and we fail to open them?  This year when the magic of Christmas comes upon us and the adult in us pauses on Christmas day, perhaps the scared child within should honor the Christ child’s birthday by diving in and ripping open every gift intended for us.

Like the frozen rose in my garden, with spring, we all have a chance to live beyond the stunted almost life. We can experience the wow, a newness, a rebirth and a life of abundance. If we become bold receivers, can you imagine what our hearts, our families, our friends, our work, our town, our world would look like?

This story and and others like it can be found in The Real Dirt on Being Happy!