What Should I Do?

As a Pastor, Relationship Coach, and over-all Spiritual Adviser I am often asked, "What should I do?" in any given situation. The reality is, you can't always know just how things will turn out, especially if it's involving others. You don't know what they will ultimately do. Most people, if not all people go to the marriage altar fully committed to and believing that they will be together forever. At leasts that's the plan. I mean who, unless nutty, goes to the altar thinking, "If it lasts a year that's cool!" No, we all were thinking, "Till death do us part!" (Then when things get off course the thoughts enter of cutting the brake lines of your spouses car.)

I cried laughing at the movie This is 40, starring Paul Rudd (actually a High School friend of mine) when they talked about thoughts of killing each other and how would they do it; he said, "I'd throw you in a wood chipper!" She said, "I would poison the cupcakes ... so you would die slowly and peacefully." So funny!

All that aside, What Should I Do? is a great question we should always be asking ourselves, all through our entire life! Let's not get stuck, especially if you are in an unhappy place. Why stay in a bad place in your relationship? Why not change it up? Go get needed counseling! Do something you've never done before? Ask different questions? Ask even the tough questions you are afraid to ask.

The harsh reality is that often we don't know just how good or bad our decisions are until we are living in the results of them. Right? You think he's the perfect one, or she's the perfect one ... then 3 years later ... ugh! The annoyances! Ugh! The hard work begins! Or 3 years later you are just so thrilled about your choice of partner! That "perfect job" that seemed like a Golden Opportunity, doesn't seem so golden in 12 months, or maybe it gets even more golden. Sometimes you just gotta go for it! Jump and see if you fly or fall.

I'm currently reading a book, From Zero to One by Peter Thiel and he says that what often keeps people from achieving greatness is being too "risk-averse" meaning, scared to jump! Scared to try something new ... fear of failure. I've been there. But I've also been on the other side when you do jump, and hope to fly, but you fall. At those times, you get back up and look for another place to jump off again.

Just a side note here in case someone is reading into this post; I am not saying that if you are married and feel as though you are falling to just jump out of the relationship. As you know I am a firm believer in marriage and giving it every shot you can possibly give it before ever 'jumping off' from your commitments! Just to be clear IF you are thinking about getting divorced I highly recommend postponing it at least 3 - 6 months to work on yourself AND your relationship with a Coach, like me, or whoever to save it.

Trust me here, I work with a lot of divorcees and most of them wish they would have given it more of a shot before running the other way. There are a lot of reasons for this; no one wants to be considered a quitter. Especially if they quit without some valiant effort to fix it. But if there is valiant effort and it still ends, you will sleep better knowing you gave it a real shot! Make sense? I'm telling you this only because it will save you from so much guilt, shame, and self esteem issues!

In closing, so how can we make the best decisions when asking the question, "What Should I Do?"

1) Pray/Meditate on it. (Ask God for guidance)

2) Seek advice from friends, family, and professionals. (Those closest to you)

3) Look at the evidence. (What are the facts telling you?)   

4) Do the necessary research to get answers. 

5) Jump!

God's Got You

Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling of falling? Or at least that feeling that you are slipping off a cliff that you are barely hanging on to? For some it's financial, others it's relational, maybe it's business, or it's your health that seems to be slipping away. No matter what it is the feeling is the same; You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, you lose your appetite, and your hands get cold and clammy.

At some point we've each faced that feeling. So what do you do with it? How do you react? What do you say? What do you think? What is your response? I do know this, it's not healthy or even helpful to live there in that anxious fearful emotion. We must have another, more powerful, thought that leads to a better healthier emotion.

I believe if we can replace that fearful thought with a faith-filled thought we then have a hopeful faith-filled emotion that follows. Make sense?

For example, I was talking to a good friend of mine about some of my cares and worries and he said, "Timmy, don't worry bro God's got you!" And with that one thought I was able to replace my fear with hope. And I begin to dwell on that, and think, "yes God does have me, He always has, and always will."

One of my favorite verses:

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - NIV

So to you I say, "(insert your name here) that thing you are going through, don't worry about it! God's got you! You are going to make it."

Where Am I Going?

I ask myself, "Where Am I Going?" a lot these days. I'm not talking about Heaven and Hell here either. I am talking about life in general. I'm sure it's part of being 45 years old I guess - the whole mid-life thing. I think and feel different about a lot of things as I get older. It's weird. Though I do feel that it's a valid question to ask ourselves. Because I think we all have a rough idea of what we'd wish for, or what we would like, or what would be cool. Right?

As I ponder the question what pops up in my head is that it's important to make sure that I do know where I want to go in life and then to make sure I do what would lead me there, and not do what would keep me from there. Make sense? I mean if I want a good life then I ought to limit the bad stuff, right?! I mean, that would only make sense.

Another thought is to *seek the wisdom of those who are where you want to be, or are well on their way to getting there on some level. Evaluate your life, your choices, your friends, your spending habits, etc. Make whatever changes necessary to help you get on your way to wherever it is you want to go.

*This can be done through reading books, and even actually setting up appointments with people. Make sure to have your questions written down before you meet them, and take good notes.

And finally, get moving!

I'm Not Where I Thought I'd Be

Q: Is your life right where you envisioned it would be at this time in your life?

A: Probably not, if you are like the rest of us.

Now that I am getting well into my 40's I am hearing from my friends things like, "I'm not where I thought I'd be in life." Or something real similar to that phrase. Frankly, I've said that many times in the last few years.

I assume they mean what I mean by that statement; I don't have what I thought I'd have, I haven't accomplished what I thought I would accomplish, I'm not doing all that I wanted to do, etc. etc.

I am uncertain just who is right where they thought they'd be at any particular time in their life. I mean, in my early 20's I envisioned being in college, I was. In my later 20's I envisioned myself being married, I was. In my early 30's I envisioned myself having kids and being in full time church work, I did and was. In my mid to late 30's I envisioned moving to Kansas City and starting a church, I did. In my early 40's I envisioned pastoring a mega-church, I didn't. And now in my mid 40's and late 40's I have other visions, hopefully "I will" and "I did" will be what I say after I get there. But if not, well then I will keep on keeping on!

I am learning more and more in life, some things are just what they are, you can't do anything about them but you can do something about YOU! You can change yourself, your perspective, your behavior, your view, your thoughts, your beliefs, and your attitude! And when you change those things, you change the world!

Final word to all my buddies who are in their late 30's to early 40's struggling with inner identity issues, just keep on keeping on doing what you know is right!

That is a valuable lesson in life right there, just keep on doing what you know is right, and with that I would encourage you to stop doing what you know to be wrong! You'll be so happy you did, I promise!

Slay Your Demon (3 of 3)

My final thoughts on slaying your demon is simple really, and it's in the above picture, "The Struggle is Real." We all struggle, or should struggle with the demons within! I saw a t-shirt that read, "I don't fight with my inner demons, I just go along with them." I think that is tragic! The demons you, me and everyone struggles with will take us places we never thought we'd go, and keep us longer than we want to stay and cost us way more than we want to pay.

I believe that all 6 points I gave led up to this final point: 

7) Stay Healthy - Another thing we can do to win the war is to stay healthy! Spiritual Health, Mental and Emotional Health and Physical Health! All are very important in being able to fight off the demons within that would love to get you to do something stupid.

I am only 45, but I have seen enough of life to see a pattern in people doing stupid stuff, and the pattern is: making bad choices when you are in a bad place. Whether it's a bad mental state, emotional state, spiritual state and even a bad physical state. And this has been true in my life as well. I am most susceptible when I am weak, or troubled or stressed to do or say silly stuff.

A rule I live by and I encourage others to live by: Don't ever make big decisions when you are in a bad place emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically. Wait until you are in a good place, and if you still want to do whatever it is when you are in a strong state, than maybe it's the right thing. I am, of course, assuming that "what you want to do" isn't immoral or corrupt. Hello!

I see this a lot in cases of adultery, divorce, and even remarriage. People who have affairs, not always but often, are super stressed at work, have a broken marriage, weak spiritually, or are going through some kind of mid-life crisis of sorts and typically always regret their decisions when they look back. Same with re-marriage; I see people get divorced and before they are even over it they "meet someone special" ... this is a recipe for disaster typically.

Okay, so I am ending this blog and there really is so much to write about this subject, and I want to leave you with one last thought and that is to not allow guilt and shame to keep you down if you have given into your demons more than you should have! That's not going to help you move forward at all, actually if anything it can weaken you. You will find yourself saying, "well I already did it last night, I might as well do it tonight too." That is just not true! If you have messed up, than ask God to forgive you and move on! Don't live in the land of past mistakes! You can win the war!

1 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

Midlife Crisis

I am 44, and they say a mid-life crisis happens sometime between ages 40 to 60. I had never giving it much thought until a year ago, and I wouldn't call it a “midlife crisis” for me anyway, but more of a ‘midlife reflection’. I find myself thinking about the future far more than I ever did. Like; what am I doing with my life, how am I making a difference, am I leaving a legacy, things aren't  quit going like I had envisioned (not bad, just not what I thought) I think often about the retirement plan I don’t have, and the kid’s college fund I don’t have. I'm thankful I have a lot of happiness in my life that helps to balance out the things I wish were different.

We have all heard those horror stories of people making crazy decisions during a “midlife crisis” and ruining their life, and the lives of their kids.  And that’s no good! So I guess if nothing else I am blogging this to encourage you who, like me, are in the midst of a “midlife reflection” time, please don’t do anything stupid! Keep your head screwed on straight; keep doing what you know is right. And if you don’t know what is right (common during this time) confide in a trusted level-headed friend to help you not completely throw your life away in the middle of an emotional storm. I would even encourage professional counseling to help talk through the things you are wrestling with if necessary.

Almost every person I talk to who is my age, they are thinking about the same things. So it’s not some tragic time, but rather just a phase in life when you start to realize you aren't 18 anymore, and that you don’t have your whole life ahead of you. Most people in their 40’s have lived over half their life and are thinking, “crap, I better get my sh-- together.”

If you are a young person just getting started in life I can tell you one thing, and that is if you will make plans now for retirement, kid’s college, etc etc. it will save you from much of what I talked about here. The good thing for me is that the things I did invest in in the first half of my life are bringing me great joy today; my marriage, my kids, my faith and living a purposeful life! If I didn't have those things, I am not sure what I would do.

Live life so you will have very few, if any regrets! You'll be glad you did!