Friday, May 6, 2011

The Multiple "Me's"

"Put your best foot forward." A simple saying nearly ever parent or adult has said to nearly every child. While we may always want to be presented in the best light, very often, the choice we make, how we are perceived is the complete opposite. It may trace back to a series of choices, fueled by thoughts and feelings that speak to our inability, or a weakness within us. But always appearing positive, upbeat and cooperative seems to escape us.

At times, we feel the need to withdraw, place our selves within a protective cocoon. Those moments, we think the only protector we have is 'us.' We may cry out to God in a prayer: "Lord save me," or "Lord keep my enemy away," or even "take care of those who would harm me," but our focus is on the pain we feel, rather than our potential.

I remember times when I was so disgusted with the course of my life; my attention focused on what was not happening, what I wanted to happen, and what was seen as the height of reinforced walls between success and I. In times like these, one's attention isn't merely not "seeing the forest for the trees," but seeing the trees that are twisted, dying and potentially deadly.  In times like this, it is hard to remember that my children are being fed, clothed, educated and loved, or that the car I have is running so well, I don't have to give a thought to whether it will get me to work or not. Sitting at my desk at work, I forget that my contribution to the company's success is so valuable, the idea of letting me go is the furthest from leadership's mind. I only perceive disappointment at my life.

No one is immune to "stinking-thinking;" even the most successful people are capable of focusing on their failures to the point they don't stretch for additional success. And honestly, it's at this point I think we all need to learn that the eye of the storm is that moment, that brief period where we calmly view the multiple aspects of our existence.

From the "least of these" to the "greatest," we are an amalgamation of good actions and selfish motives. We can love our spouses to death and in a moment become a hateful person. We can sit in fear, dreading the success we say we want and in the same day, work at someone's company as though the lights would go out unless we're there. Contrasting and conflicting possibilities exist in each of us.

In the book of James (the New Testament of the Bible), he asks a poignant question in chapter 3 and verse 11: "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" Of course the implication is we should not produce "salty water," but  fresh water; but "putting our best foot forward," is not only a challenge, but a a supernatural feat!

Personally, at this point, I am in the 'eye of the storm.' I can see within me so much potential and exercise it. And seconds later, any given day, I see where I'm falling short of expectations I have for my life and it seems to snatch the very light from the sky. But in this quiet place, where all that is 'me,' swirls around me, it's refreshing to know 'when' I achieve the success I believe I desire, I will remain this mix of incredible and despicable; I will grow, but there will remain in me the potential for additional growth. My expectation is spiritually and mentally, I will become the man I believe I should be, but new areas of weakness as well as strength will be revealed. Where are you in your development? In this moment, on this day, are you looking at your life as a disaster, while sitting in front of a work of art, created by your hands? Or do you perceive your life as a success, but with room to grow?