Saying goodbye to 2017 and welcoming 2018 is just another reminder that life is a continuous journey. The Family Care Network celebrated its 30-year journey in 2017. We took the opportunity to look back on our past, giving cause for great celebration of our trials and triumphs. However, I don’t think it’s healthy to dwell too much on the past--we need to continue to create our future.
Journey we must, never quite knowing where our path will lead us, but always mindful of the importance of the process. We all have the choice to look into the unknown with fear and trepidation, or a great sense of adventure and anticipation. Journeying is a never-ending classroom. It is where we learn through trial and error, success, sorrows, endurance, mistakes, challenges, resiliency, obstacles, welcoming happiness, and being consumed with unspeakable joy. Equally important, our Journey is a canvas on which we have the opportunity to paint the picture we want our lives to look like at the Journey’s end.
As our Journey continues, I would like to share my thoughts about making the most of the process!
Every Journey must begin with the end in mind. I think each of us can honestly say that our destination point has changed time and time again; this is normal and to be expected. Nonetheless, we all need a direction to pursue, a vision for our future and plenty of big dreams to fuel the engines of forward progress. For me, this process is much like strategic planning. In our fast-paced, ever-changing, dynamic world, the days of “setting a goal and completing it come hell or high water” are over. There are too many variables, distractions and changes to contend with. The most effective approach is to set an objective and then test or experiment your way, all the while adjusting, adapting, and modifying until you have achieved what you set out to. Each person’s Life Journey must be started with direction and then melded with flexibility! Destination is essential because as it evolves, it gives us the opportunity to make the changes necessary to build character. Remember, it is not about the destination, it is about “Finishing Well!”
Every Journey will consist of “me,” “we” and “others” thinking, actions and attitudes. The trick is to not let the “me” dominate your Journey for it will only lead to a dark, lonely path; obscuring one’s view of the abundance of opportunity to make the most of the adventure, and stymie the potential for achieving the fullness of life. Sure, the “me” will always be there, but it must be tempered with “we” – a strong sense of belonging and social engagement. Along with “we,” every one of us needs to be immersed in a focus on “others;” filled with compassion, concern, caring, helping and, most importantly, love! It is only when we maintain a “we” attitude, driven by a heart for “others,” that we will overcome selfishness, and instead add color, joy, depth and great richness to our Journey! A journey is best measured in our relationships not our accomplishments!
Every Journey will have dark times: pain, sorrow, loss, disappointment, discouragement and heartbreak. I wish that this wasn’t the case, but life is what it is. It is important to remember, though, that there is the process of “Choices and Consequences.” We all make decisions that have consequences, the challenge is to make sure we are making good decisions, and learning from our bad decisions so we don’t endure more pain or difficulty. Hand-in-hand with self-produced problems, are those completely beyond our control, the death of a loved one for example. The secret for dealing with the dark side of life is twofold: endurance and attitude! Time can be a person’s best friend, giving us the opportunity to heal, to learn, to overcome and to persist in our forward movement. We cannot control time, but we can take advantage of it.
On the other hand, we own Attitude. There are two distinct pathways for how you and I respond to the dark moments of life. One can become bitter, angry, hopeless or resentful; allowing the “me” to take control and deepening the darkness and despair. Or we can choose to persevere and focus on that which is good, lovely, hopeful, or a pleasant memory. We will all end life’s Journey with scars and wounds, but our goal must be to “Finish Well!”
Every Journey must be shrouded in Hope! Another way of articulating Hope is to have the Faith that everything is going to Finish Well. Decades ago, I learned to embrace the Biblical definition of Faith, “it is the Evidence of things not seen, and the Substance of things hoped for.” Wouldn’t it be great if everything in life were black-and-white and clear as a bell. Sorry, but this isn’t the case. This is where Faith comes in. We do not know what the future will bring us, and so we can either fear the future or engage it with the Faith to believe that we will have a successful Journey! I, for one, choose to believe in a future filled with joy, excitement, accomplishments, fulfillment and love. It has certainly led to a much more exciting Journey. I like the words of Robert Louis Stevenson “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor in Hope!”
Do not let the clouds of darkness and uncertainty spoil the Journey. We have been blessed with the gift of hindsight to give us the wisdom to successfully navigate the future, the joy of memories to anchor the present and the hope of anticipation to light our way forward. And so – let the Journey Continue!