I did the one thing I’ve always wanted to do but it was also the one thing I was most afraid of doing and guess what? nothing happened. This is what I discovered when I recently published my first book. I’ve been holding on to the idea of being a published author, to have a book out in public and have people read it and now it is out there. I’ve conquered that fear and nothing happened.
There is nothing on the other side of fear; just life moving on swiftly. Children still need to go to school, dinner still has to be cooked, work still has to be done, laundry still has to be folded, the weather changes every other day. The sun rises and the sun sets and through all this, that one thing that you’ve been afraid to do, that one thing, and let’s be honest, not many people care about, is holding you hostage. So what do you do?
You do the one thing you’re afraid of doing and move on. Because in truth, the only one who you are truly afraid of judging you or criticizing you, is you.
We are our own true enemies of progress.
If I think about it and maybe I am only speaking for myself but maybe we are not afraid of doing the thing that we are afraid of doing; publishing the book, releasing the song, traveling to that place or whatever it is that is keeping you hostage. Maybe we are afraid of making ourselves visible, telling and showing the world, “Hey, I’m out here!” because once you are out there, once you release something or do something or say something, there is a certain pressure on you to keep doing it. To keep delivering and what if you can’t deliver again? What then?
But the thing is, you are still you, you can still do it and you can do it again and again. Once you do it the first time, I suspect it gets easier from there. I’m not saying I will never feel fear again or that I won’t be afraid to try new things again, I’m simply saying that once you get on the other side of it, you’ll see it wasn’t so scary after all.
So here is my advice; do the thing you are most afraid of doing. Once you jump off that metaphorical cliff, you’ll realise you were actually just two feet from the ground.
I don’t want to pretend that I am not exhausted or that my body doesn’t feel like it is giving in. I’ve had a very long yearbut, at the same time, a very short year. There have been some disappointments, heartaches, and frustrating moments throughout this year, and it has all come to a head and I don’t want to undermine the fact that it has been overwhelming. I don’t want to fake excitement going into the new year; I don’t want to pretend that I have it all figured out. I am exhausted and I don’t have a solid plan yet. I simply don’t have the energy. Many of us are struggling with the same thing. Still, we have created this culture of having to be so up and ready for the new year. To be excited, make resolutions and goals for the new year, the next phase of our lives, but I’m sure that it is okay to go into the new year in the current phase or state that you’re in. If you are tired, sad, exhausted, frustrated, or feeling a myriad of emotions, there is genuinely no pressure for you to get rid of it before the clock strikes 12 on January 1st. There is no pressure. God will still be there on the other side. He will still be there to help you get through it. Whether that is now or next year, it’s okay to go into the new year feeling like you do.
Just as you enter the new year, give it all to God and leave it all in His hands. He requires us to not lean on our understandingor rushing to plan our lives to a T and write down goals. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discouraging planning your life or your year. If you don’t achieve or haven’t completed all you set out to do, it’s okay.
Don’t carry that disappointment of unachieved goals so heavily that you crucify yourself and feel completely hopeless. There is still hope for those who have reached our limits and are running on empty. I have rested, spent a few days with family, lazed around, laughed, and played games, but I’m still tired. Not all of my exhaustion suddenly disappeared, and not all of my ill feelings have been dealt with, which is fine. I hope you can enter the new year, knowing that whatever you feel, it is okay to feel that way. There is no pressure to do things immediately and hurriedly. There is a quote I love that says;
“I may not know what my future holds but I do know who holds my future” You’ve done your best; now let God do the rest.
I woke up the other morning, irritated and grumpy because of a small insignificant matter and I ended up taking it out on my family. I wasn’t in control of my emotions, I let it run wild and ruined what could have been a perfectly good morning. It led me to pray and ask God to help me control these feelings I get of annoyance, irritability and anger, especially when its for no good reason. The Holy Spirit prompted me to read Galatians 5, it speaks on the fruits of the Spirit and what our lives should produce when we live by the Spirit.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, humility and self-control”
That self-control one is tricky for me, especially when it comes to my feelings and reactions – I’m a very emotional person and I can be reactive at times. I get irritated when things don’t happen when and how they are supposed to happen and now and then I can have an angry outburst. I know it’s not pretty but if we lack self-awareness, we’ll never be able to deal with the deeper issues of the problem. When I read Galatians 5 vs 19, it said the following:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear; sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins…”
For me, hostility, quarreling and outbursts of anger are what I battle with. Especially at home and in the mornings when we have to get done for the day and things are not happening as fast or as smoothly as I want it to happen. But I’ve realised and maybe you can relate if this is something you also struggle with, that getting angry or irritated won’t solve the problem or make circumstances more ideal. In fact, it might make them worse. It will sow division in your home and everybody will end up being in a bad mood. It certainly is not the way to start or end a day.
So that has been my prayer lately. That God helps me to stay in control of my emotions and teaches me patience or teaches me how to be patient when I experience less than ideal circumstances and that I don’t just get angry or frustrated at anything or anyone over small matters.
Another verse in Galatians which is sort if the core for me is verse 13. It reads as follows;
“Don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one anther in love, for the whole law can be summed up in this one command ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ “
Galatians 5 is full of wisdom and basically teaches us that we should let the Holy Spirit lead us, lead our lives, actions and thoughts. It speaks of how the sinful nature only wants to do evil;
“And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions”
Every morning when you open your eyes, you are entering the battlefield of your mind, in fact, the battle has already started while you were sleeping. When you wake up, that’s when youchooseon which side you are fighting on. Are you on the side of your sinful nature or are you on the side of the Holy Spirit?
Every day is a battle and it’s easier to give in to sin than it is to surrender all we know to God but then we need to ask ourselves, what do we want more and what is worth sacrificing?
Galatians 5 vs 24 ends the passage with the following:
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited or provoke one another or be jealous of one another”
So this will be my guide and my prayer and I hope it can be yours as well, with whatever sinful nature you are struggling with. I pray that our lives will be filled and reflect the fruits of the Spirit and that we don’t give in to our sinful actions at the expense of our loved ones.
A little self-awareness and introspection can go a long way. Below is a video of a poem I wrote about the battles we face in our minds.
When I searched the meaning of the word ‘intentional,’ I found the following definition; ‘done on purpose’ or ‘deliberate.’ The word ‘purpose’ means ‘the reason for doing something.’ So overall, the word intentional means there is a specific reason you do what you do. There is a particular outcome you desire, something you want to see or achieve through your actions, thoughts, and words daily. I’ve been thinking of my intentions lately, why I do what I do every day, even the simple or mundane things. Why do I clean our home, do laundry, binge-watch series, or eat certain things? Then I realised that some of the everyday things I do sometimes don’t have any purpose. Sometimes, I do it because it’s my excuse not to do what I’m supposed to be doing, for example, watching a series when I should be working on my novel. Those things are not intentional; they are easy. I do it because I am programmed to do it through years of doing the same thing every day. When I write or share something on my blog or podcast, I don’t just do it because I am programmed to do it. I do it to inspire and motivate others or to share a relatable part of my life so that others might feel seen or heard and less alone. That is the purpose, the intention of my writing.
QUESTIONS ABOUT MY INTENTIONS
Then I asked myself how many things I do that are intentional or have a purpose. The answer was few, which made me sad and a little bit angry at myself. I want to go through life with a purpose and a clear direction for my life. I want my life to mean something. I want my work to mean something. At the end of my life, I want to know that I have fulfilled what God put me here to do. I want to be more intentional about my thoughts, actions, and words, whether written or spoken. I want it to bring life to others.
HOW TO BE MORE INTENTIONAL
The question then came to me: What can I do or what should I do if I want to be more intentional? It’s certainly not easy because being intentional requires doing the work. It takes renewing your mind and changing old habits into new habits. However, it is not impossible. For one, whenever you experience a negative thought creeping into your mind, you stop before it overtakes you and switch to the more upbeat, life-giving alternative. Give your thoughts purpose. When you want to watch a third consecutive episode of the current series you’re watching, stop and ask yourself, is there a reason for this? Will this help me fulfill my purpose? What can I do instead? Write, create art, call a friend or family member and check in, go for a walk and clear your mind, pray, or read. Simple things like that can awaken a part of you that you thought had died long ago. I think of the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible. When Ruth went out to work in the fields, Naomi realised that the land belonged to Boaz. Later in the story, Naomi instructs Ruth to go to the threshing floor so that she may find a husband and a new home. There was purpose in Naomi’s actions, and there was intention. Eventually, that filtered down through the rest of history.
YOU STILL HAVE A PURPOSE
I’d like to believe that when we wake in the morning, God still has a purpose for our lives, which means we have no choice but to be intentional about who we are and what we do. God himself was intentional when He created us. Knowing that should give us enthusiasm for the day ahead and excitement to fulfill that purpose. It should make us curious about what life offers so that when we lay our heads down at night, exhausted but fulfilled, we know we have completed what God has called us to do. Every single day we have on this earth is a gift. We don’t get the same day twice, and time moves swiftly. Let’s be intentional about how we use the time we have.
I was thinking about distractions this morning. We woke up to start our day, and there were elements of distractions that cut into our routine. I woke up less than excited; I couldn’t find my shoes when it was time for our walk, my husband couldn’t find his book when it was reading time, and so forth. I felt disorganized and disorientated, and it irritated me a little. The morning routine was less perfect than the day before, but we still completed it. So many times, we strive for perfection when we should take note of the progress. We think or believe things should be exactly right, and when it doesn’t happen the way we imagined it, we become discouraged, and most times, we tend to give up when we are so close to the finish line. It’s all about progress – small acts you do every day that make you better, stronger, and wiser than you were the day before. When we pray, we tell God exactly what we want, to the last detail, and forget that He can and will probably provide us with something more significant, despite our ignorance.
Isaiah, 55 vs. 8-9, says: ‘Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds, for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds and my plans are superior to your plans.’
God is the only one who is perfect. I once told my husband that sometimes our reaction to life’s events, like tragedy or a break in routine, or a small or medium-sized distraction, could completely throw us off our axes. Its as if we suddenly don’t know where we are, who we are, or what we’re supposed to do, and then we curl up in a ball and feel sorry for ourselves because things didn’t go as we planned instead of rolling with the waves and adjusting our sails to the winds. Stop looking for perfect. There is no such thing. Don’t take your eyes off Jesus; don’t let the winds of change or distraction throw you off your purpose. Let it make you stronger. Let us build our character and learn to be patient with ourselves. Change and growth is a continuous process, I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures
Jeremiah 29 vs. 11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’
My husband and I started our new morning routine. It opened my eyes as well as my mind. The power and presence of God and the Holy Spirit were palpable for me this morning. The morning walk felt good. The moon was still fully out, shining brightly in the sky. My nose was cold. I felt peace overcome me. I am grateful that I can live this life. Thankful that I have another opportunity to change and grow. There are so many things I want to achieve for myself and my family. Places I want to go, people I want to meet, and lives I want to change. I’m re-reading the 5AM Club by Robin Sharma, and there’s a line where the entrepreneur, a woman, decides to take steps in changing her life;
‘She promised herself she’d keep following this process instead of retreating. Her former way of existing no longer served her. It was time for a change.’
One of our greatest mistakes is thinking we have time, but we don’t. Every day without us living the life we’re meant to and fulfilling our purpose on this earth is wasted, and we don’t get that time back. I’m realizing now that our purpose is not something we do one day and then it’s done. Our purpose is small acts that we carry out every single day, consistently, passionately, and intentionally.
We need to be conscious of that. Tap into God’s plans for your life and start doing the work laid out for you. I say this as much to myself as I say to you, dear reader. Time on earth is a commodity, a precious one at that. We need to be aware of the things we spend our time on. I am genuinely grateful that this is still something I have – time.