With those fateful words, Martin Luther King did not just express the pinnacle of his life’s mission—but set the example for the rest of us that—TRULY—there IS nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come! And there IS nothing more destructive to the spirit, than an idea or a dream ignored!
50% of Americans will experience a mid-life “crisis” between the ages of 40 & 60. A thirty year study indicates that this mid-life crisis is primarily driven by the “realization” that one’s life lacks purpose. In short, the study concludes that surrendering your dreams, denying your purpose, or ignoring your God-given talents–is tantamount to spiritual suicide!
I’m going to tell you a story. MY story. It’s the story of a very sweet and gentle 7 year old boy whose love in life was to write poetry and short stories. But that happy pastime was abruptly interrupted in the 2ndgrade by the cruel taunts of other children who viewed writing poetry as a “sissy” endeavor worthy of scorn and ridicule. And while my size and temper put a stop to the taunting—the damage had been done and that gentle, poetry-writing little boy—simply….disappeared.
“Sometimes the darkest challenges, the most difficult lessons,
hold the greatest gems of light.”
In his place blossomed an athlete coupled with a temperamental belligerence born of extreme anger and frustration over what I’d surrendered. Rather than pursue what I loved and live my dream—I allowed myself to become a composite of the perceptions of my peer group. I allowed the opinions of others to define me and to alter my life’s trajectory. I allowed people who didn’t matter—to deny me the very thing that mattered most. In short—I allowed myself to become something other than myself! And while I’ve lived a relatively adventuresome and exciting life—it has also been rife with the kind of debilitating behaviors and excesses and decisions that can cripple and destroy a spirit so scarred by that loss of ultimate purpose and the self-denial of something we truly enjoy.
My point is this. We’re all designed for something extraordinary, exciting, and amazingly satisfying! We’re all designed to pursue a path that allows us to best utilize the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. How sad is the life that ends with that gift unopened or unused? How unfulfilling is a life that asked of us a journey that we never attempted? And finally—how tragic is a dream not just unfulfilled—but un-pursued out of fear or lack of faith or commitment?
We all have “something” in our lives that we think about or dream about in those quiet moments when we’re sitting alone or driving or lying in bed late at night or early in the morning. Figure out what that “something” is and then pursue it with the childlike gusto and excitement it deserves! Chasing a dream or goal or lifetime mission can bring out toughness in you that you never knew you had. Perseverance that you never thought possible. And excitement that you never imagined! Success is not the goal and attainment is not the source of happiness. It’s the engagement! It’s the battle! It’s the challenge of the unknown that makes us strong—and ultimately happy.
So with the words of John Wooden ringing in my ear, “Steve-the journey IS the inn!” I have recently been reacquainted with a sweet 7 year old boy who has reminded me that we still have unfinished business—a journey uncompleted, and challenges yet to be confronted–and that time is running short.