Editorial: Are you winning?
I want to share a thought that came to me the other day in a conversation with a loved one.
We had just watched a story on TV about a person who was intimidated when a friend was genuinely excited about their success. But this person responded with fear, turned outside into anger. It was the blindside of fear of future failure and they dug in and refused to be encouraged. The person I was with had a history of responding similarly when under a moment of encouragement.
What occurred to me was the good old Physics law: An object at rest ‘tends to want to’ stay at rest and an object in motion ‘tends to want to’ stay in motion, unless acted on by an outside force. Next, what came to mind was a scripture: “Where your treasure is (meaning your time, energy and effort) there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21)
So here is what transpired in the conversation.
“Is that what you experience when I try to encourage you?”
Timidly they said, “Yes, I guess it is, sometimes.”
So I asked, “How can I say things different to you, in order that the idea of support and uplifting can get across?”
“Well, it’s not really something you’re doing wrong, I guess it’s just the way I’m registering things.”
“Oh. OK, I hope this will be an insight to release you from stuff then. So let’s try to look at things hypothetically and lay it out as an idea in front of you. Will that be OK?”
“Sure, I guess, I’ll try to see it that way with you.”
“Great, I want to show you how your possible internal dialog could be short circuiting the help and hope you have in life. So get ready!” This is when I shared the two thoughts, kind of patterns, that had come to mind earlier, and then I inquired, “When someone is excited about a success you have, and expresses that to you, it comes across as intimidating, is that fair to say?”
“Yeah, it’s just, I don’t want to let them down.”
“So your mind goes to how you can fail them next, is that it?”
“Something like that, yes.”
“So you don’t get to enjoy the success, it kinda steals it, eh?”
“You know the word of God says, ‘The thief (the enemy) comes only to steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10). Before, we have discussed this enemy is whatever harmful thing is working through our lives. It can be: sin nature in your flesh, seeming like your own perspective which you don’t catch as untrue; or the devil speaking at you with thoughts out of left field; or the way circumstances out in the world conspire to seem to always point out you’re not there yet. You ‘tend to want to’ see things this way, huh?”
“Well, I don’t think I want to, but I keep on doing it just the same.” (Romans 7:19&20)
“I’m choosing the words ‘tend to want to’ on purpose. I’m not trying to put you down, but pointing out it’s like in the science law I shared, there is a tendency. So can you see, the outside force acting on your thought and emotional life is not you but discouragement itself. If you open up to that habit of thinking, they are words being spoken to you by discouragement itself. When a person does this they are believing, or accepting the governing of their meaning in their life, they are, in a sense, co-working with destroying their courage, like working to defeat: encouragement, hope or the development of a NEW inertia, that state or expression of energy. (Romans 6:16). When inertia is applied to an object, be it an attitude, inner talk or outward activity, it creates a force in a direction, this causes motion. As there is consistency it gathers and builds and this is called momentum.
Thomas Edison was noted for this attitude. When he was in the process of inventing the light bulb he had to go through, many tries to come up with the right metal alloy mixture for the tungsten filament in the light bulb. He failed over and over as he tried mixture after mixture of different types of metals to make the little glowing wire inside the bulb, yet he is accredited as saying, and I paraphrase here, ‘Well that’s one more obstacle out of the way, I know that’s not the answer, but now I’m one step closer to it.’ This statement portrays his internal dialogue. He was thinking like Michael Angelo, when talking about sculpturing. He said, “The sculpture is within the stone, all I am doing is revealing the sculpture within it.” Isn’t that amazing, he was saying, I’m simply setting it free, I’m co-working with the sculpture, and each piece of stone I chip away is just part of what is not needed, it’s not the answer, not a piece of the goal. Instead, it is part of the process to reveal the goal.’ Like Edison, each piece of the puzzle, each obstacle, each part that didn’t belong in the solution was part of the process to getting to the solution.
So, you could say that each of these individuals where already succeeding, already solving, already winning because their inner dialog was not “Oh, I failed again, that’s not it, this is not it, I give up because after all this effort I haven’t arrived.” No, they said things like “Well now I’m closer to the goal than when I started out. This is encouraging, I am closer, I have eliminated obstacles, cleared away dead wood, swept away things which are not constructive and I see clearer now as more of the solution is in focus.”
It’s like this, when you have a goal, a word from God, it’s like we’ve thrown an anchor forward into that goal. We are not there yet, but we’ve set ourselves up connected to it and we are pulling ourselves forward, along the anchor rope, one arm’s pull at a time. Each pull uses energy and we can get very tireda, if the point of landing is far away. At each step we are getting closer to the place where the target is. So if looked at properly we can see it better, this encourages our will, we get excited (a phrase used in physics about an increase in energy) and even though our physical energy is slowly being used up, we can now add our wilful energy to the equation. So the thing hoped for is providing an outside force (or supply or energy) to the equation (Heb. 11:1). Each elimination of failure is a catalyst for release of energy toward the clearer and nearer objective.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say in parallel is, if you change your focus and recognize all of your failures in the past are not failures but are part of your success process, this could invert and redirect your thinking, or change your state of inertia (expression) in your life. This will act as a different outside force when you are thinking of goals or yourself or your progress in things. It could change a lot.
From this pattern of thinking, failures are just not that! Instead, what are labelled failures erroneously, by many, are actually part of the process of succeeding, they are success in the middle and are our friends.
The enemy would want us to see these things as barriers, loss, or failure, so we will learn the destructive habit of defeatist self talk. God, however, is always trying to get our attention to show us these things are the confirmation we are moving forward, we have momentum, and this inertia can be acted on by the outside force of his en-couraging voice. He is in touch with who you really are, what the goal you are working on really is, and what the attitude, which expresses the truth about your efforts, really is.
So, in reality, once a person has let Christ take charge, they become his intended success. God desires to set everyone, and actually has set believers, on a course with plans to bless them (Deut. 30:11 -19 & Prov 18:21).
So, be encouraged, your life is not a litany of failures but a history of steps in success and of blessings from God.
“Yeah, I always remember you asking people over and over, as I grew up, ‘Are you winning?’ I guess I am after all.”
So what do you say, with this same adjustment in mind, are you winning?