Failure is Not an Option

I just started reading a book this weekend by Lewis Howes called The School of Greatness.  Howes is an athlete and entrepreneur.  He has an inspiring story and great podcast that I highly recommend.  In the chapter I read last night, he posed this challenge:

Imagine what your life would look like if you knew you could never fail.

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Fear can be crippling, whether we fear success or failure. We can be scared to break out of the box of our own expectations and those of our family. We grow up listening to the narratives that swirl around us.  It takes drive and effort to break the trend and stand out, to tell the ghosts of the pasts that they don’t have any power in the present or the future.

This weekend, as you hand out candy and dress up in costumes, take a moment and picture your life without failure.  What would you do, how would you change, what would you create? What impact would you make in this world that longs for someone to come and change things?

What legacy would you leave?

Make plans and, when Monday comes, take the first step towards a new future.  I know I will.

~Matt

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The Joy Shortage

It was a short walk. Our building at work is three floors.  This past week I was upstairs in the testing center.  I had to run some documents down to the second floor. I left my desk, went through the back hallway and down the stairs.

I crossed the second level and passed patients, nurses, and doctors.  After delivering papers to our financial guy I returned upstairs.

Not one greeting, smile, or acknowledgement. I made eye contact with patients and other coworkers, tried to engage with people, and found nothing. As I sat down at my desk, the realization hit me.

We are missing joy.

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I work at a cardiology office and the irony is not lost.  There are many people with sick hearts, young and old, rich and poor. They go through the motions and decide if they have enough reason to keep moving forward.

Society isn’t helping.

We’re facing a higher cost for everything, from healthcare to groceries. We’re patronized from the media and politicians forever out of touch with the people they represent.

So how do we find joy again?

Friends: Val and I are meeting friends tomorrow night for dinner and a concert in the city. There is value in genuine community. There is value in sharing success and struggle.  It is too easy to feel alone.  I had a person this week show up way early for an appointment and tell me, “It is better than being with my husband.” Don’t live a life without the release that comes from the shoulder of a friend to lean on.

Function: I am not where I’m meant to be.  You may think that wouldn’t be conducive to joy, but the opposite is true.  I work with many people who have settled and don’t have the energy to make a change.  They spend their days miserable, trapped in comfort that has robbed them from passion and purpose. It is never too late to move.  What is the dream you have? The art you are meant to make? The missions trip that has been on your mind every time you hear about it at church?  You have set days on this planet and a designated purpose. Connect the two and you’ll find joy.

Freedom: There is no such thing as a required pace in this race of life. There is no reason to “Keep Up with the Joneses”. When I first got out of college, I spent two weeks working a sales job and “Keeping Up with the Joneses” was a technique they taught you on day one: always tell people their neighbor/friend/competition just completed a sale with you. It will push your target do throw their money down.

We do the same thing to ourselves all the time.  If that person on social media just got a new car, we are angry that we can’t do the same.

It is time to let go of the comparison game and free ourselves from the trappings of stuff.

This weekend, be sure to take some time and experience joy.  Laugh, love, and live deeply.  You’ll be refreshed and relieved in the end.

~Matt

 

Calling

Make tomorrow different.

Do it because you can. Because you don’t know if you’ll have Friday.  Because somewhere, someone is sitting in the darkness of their home regretting the fact that they didn’t do it.

Ignore the doubts. Silence the critics. Choose what voices matter and keep them close.

Find your idea. Ignite a new passion. Connect with friends and make partnerships.

Do it because it is in your history, in your blood going back through the generations.

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Do it because you were called to fight, because somewhere three hundred years ago people decided to rise up and claim their freedom. Do it because this year a soldier didn’t make it home to their family.

Do it because someone believes in you. Your mother. Your father. Your children look up to you and see inspiration.

Close your eyes.

See your goal.

Take that first step. Lace up the sneakers and hit the track. Set up the meeting with the perspective investors and put your idea on the table and know, even if they say NO, it only means they weren’t the right ones and there’s an entire country waiting to support you.

Do it because time is short. Because giving matters. Because tonight a kid is hungry somewhere and your success could inspire someone to give back and their donation could help put food in the fridge. Because a person you haven’t met needs to know your story and understand that

there

is

hope.

When the sun rises and the alarm sounds, open your eyes. Draw a breath and be thankful because your work isn’t complete. You are needed. You have another chance to make a difference.

Do it because the fear of success is greater than the fear of failure. Because you are worth having a dream, chasing it down, grasping it and never letting go.

Hear that? That small voice in the silence? That voice speaking in your heart whenever you close your eyes and listen? That thrumming in your soul pulses out a beat driving you forward, waiting, coiled and ready to expand and explode.

That voice is the calling.  Will you respond?

~Matt

Find Faith, Stand Tall and Fix Your Eyes

Fight for the weak ones

Speak out for freedom

Find faith in the battle

Stand tall but above it all

Fix my eyes on you.

~Fix My Eyes by For King and Country

I was going to lunch late one night in the emergency room. My registration desk looked out at the waiting area.  A couple sat across from me with their child.  I watched the child, pale as a ghost, keep trying to stand and speak in jumbled words.  They were waiting for a room when I left for lunch.

When I returned, they were still there and, deep inside, I knew something was wrong. I went to get a nurse. They quickly opened a treatment room and ushered the family to the back.

In a few minutes, the alarm sounded for a code. The child’s breathing had stopped.  We could hear the screams of the parents from our desks.

A few days later, the newspapers ran the story.  After transfer to a higher level hospital and ICU, the child died from meningitis.

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Where is faith in that battle?  How do we stand in the midst of tragedy and fix our eyes on the author of our faith? How do you tell those parents that it will all work out in time, that their child is now in a much better place without pain, sickness, or suffering?

That face will stick with me for the rest of my life. Those words, the questions, asking and asking and asking. I can still hear it some nights in the silence.

Maybe it is not about justification. Maybe it is about honesty. Faith is telling God exactly how you feel.  It is questioning motives and results.  It is living with expectations and hanging on in the darkness, even if it is by a thread.

You can only stand in the battle through faith.

You can only fix your eyes with purpose. Every race is run with an endpoint in mind and every struggle will end.  It may be in joy and transition or tragedy and sadness. The trick is fixing your eyes no matter the circumstances.  It is praying through your tears and going on another day when you don’t have energy.

The series of posts this week is challenging.  I’ve felt the conviction of every writer, for words are really mirrors.  That is why we do it together, as a community and family. We move forward.  Today can be your day one. Start now.

Love without fear. Give whenever possible.

Life new life. Take time for another.

Speak out. Fight for freedom.

Find faith. Stand tall and

Fix

Your

Eyes.

~Matt

This is the last day you can find my novel, The City for FREE download on Amazon.com. Click here to download and check it out.

Do We Want to be Free?

Yesterday, author Donald Miller posted this status update on his Facebook page:

I’ve never known a religion that wasn’t trying to control people. And the only God I’ve known is trying to set people free.

Miller has written multiple books including the classic, Blue Like Jazz. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, this pair of sentences hit home with me and, as you can imagine, set off some fiery reactions.

We tend to forget about freedom.

What controls your life? Make a quick list.

~Money, time, bills, kids, groceries, stress, worry, the future, the past, family members, taxes, your physical health, etc.

Does your job control your life? Your addiction?

Your church?

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Photo Credit: Jill Clardy via Compfight cc

We like to create boxes for ourselves. We fill in the blanks and shape our identity.  Control, though, is a different story.

We exert control in different forms.  We run. We reward ourselves. We punish in positive and negative ways (your body may not want the mile run but it will be worth it in the end).

We think, if we can just do X we can get Y.

So what is a free life? A life of freedom is:

Grace to live without guilt.

Love to overflow into others.

Serving our community.

Sacrificing our needs for those who need more.

Freedom is power. Freedom is responsibility. It is a weight off our shoulders.

As I type this, my shoulders are heavy.  I was up until 4 a.m. last night with Aiden.  Work was busy. Night has fallen and, again, I’ll pray he sleeps.

I rocked him last night and, two hours into it, he looked up at me and said, “Hi daddy.”

Sometimes we forget that, in our midnights, we are held by hands greater than our own, that we can look up and see our Creator, even just to smile and say hello.

Aiden eventually gave in and slept.  Why do we fight so hard to do the same?