The Time We Have

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared this video with me. It’s incredible how a video that’s less than three minutes can communicate such a powerful and challenging message.

I found this video sobering, because it really put things into perspective. What am I doing with the time I have? It’s a really good question to ask ourselves. But it’s a tough question to ask. And the even harder question to ask is, “What am I spending too much time on?” It could be anything. It could be your favorite TV show(s). It could be reading books. It could be texting. It could be social media. The list goes on. That’s not to say that the item is bad in and of itself (it most likely isn’t). But is it worth the amount of time you’re spending? Could part of that time be used for something better?

Ultimately, the question is this: Is what I’m spending my time on going to matter for eternity? Is what I’m doing with my time honoring my heavenly Father?

God gives each of us a certain amount of time on this earth. Each minute of each day matters. What are you investing your time in?

hourglass

Advertisements

A Tangled Journey – Let’s Review

While the Disney movie Tangled is not a perfect movie by a long shot (there are definitely themes I disagree with in the movie), it has provided some neat insights into life. Today’s post concludes my five-part series examining Tangled and our own lives’ stories. In this post, I want to review some of the highlights from my past posts and leave you with some key takeaways.

  1. While “When Will My Life Begin?” is a really fun song, we should view life a little differently. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. If we are living according to His will, His plan for our lives, then we’re right where He wants us to be right now. The future is always a day away! We shouldn’t life our lives waiting for our life to begin. It’s already started! Live your life in the center of God’s will now. Live it doing what He’s called you to now.
  2. Our dreams should be bigger than just us. Flynn and Rapunzel give us great examples of this. Both of them had dreams that were all about themselves. But they realized that life was bigger than just them. And ultimately each of them were willing to sacrifice themselves for someone else. Our dreams should be the same way. God gives us dreams, and we should fulfill them will all of our heart.
  3. Everyone has a story! The reason stories like Tangled connect and resonate with us so much is because each of us has a story! But our stories are a part of a bigger, grander story – God’s story! Your story matters!
  4. We get a storybook ending! Life can be frustrating at times. But we know the end of the story! At the end, we will spend eternity with our Father That’s a “happily ever after” ending if there ever was one. Live today with confidence in tomorrow!

But here’s the really cool part – each of our stories are still in progress! Live life in the center of God’s will, and you’ll never go wrong. You’ll be writing His perfect story for your life. We can keep the end in sight, knowing what we’re living for.

Just imagine all that we get to accomplish between now and the end of the story! Think of the chapters to fill; the adventures to be had! Go, tell your story!

tell-your-story

What’s Your Dream?

In my last post, we looked at how we shouldn’t live life waiting for it to begin, but instead how we should live our lives now. And since the Disney movie Tangled provided such a great foundation for our discussion, I’m going to use another concept from the movie in today’s post.

tangled

The plot line of Tangled may at first just seem like a classic romance story and really “silly.” There’s this girl who has this dream. She meets up with this guy and gets him to help her fulfill her dream. They have lots of adventures and then (spoiler alert!) end up getting married and living happily ever after. But wait just a minute, it actually goes a whole lot deeper than that.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the story. Two people, each with a dream, meet through a set of odd circumstances. They both want to fulfill their own dream. Rapunzel wants to see the floating lanterns and Flynn wants to get rich and live an easy life. Rapunzel has the upper hand (or should I say hair?) in their interaction, so Flynn agrees to help her. But the reason he agrees is not because he really wants her to be happy, but because he wants the crown back so he can get on with his dream. Rapunzel isn’t interested in giving the crown back to him except as a means of bribing him to fulfill her dream. That’s how it starts.

Now lets fast-forward to the scene when Rapunzel and Eugene (not Flynn anymore) sing “I See the Light.” Take a look at some of the words in that song:

Rapunzel sings:

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been

……….

All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

And then Eugene sings:

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were
Now she’s here shining in the starlight
Now she’s here suddenly I know
If she’s here it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go

What did each of them realize? What they realized was that their own dream, the one they were so focused on, really didn’t matter. Why? Because they had discovered a new, better, dream. Why better? Because their dream was about someone else, not themselves. Before, Rapunzel wanted to see the floating lanterns for herself. Flynn wanted money for himself. It wasn’t about anyone else. Their dreams were self-centered. But then each of them realized that life was so much bigger than themselves, that life was about others! This is perfectly illustrated when (spoiler alert!) Rapunzel is willing to go with Mother Gothel forever as long as she can heal Eugene first. So she’s wiling to sacrifice herself for someone else. And then Eugene is willing to die to set Rapunzel free. Both of them forsook their own dream and their own comfort for someone else. Sure, in this case it happened to be a romantic story too, but that’s beside the point.

So what’s your dream? What are you living for? Is your dream about yourself, something you want? Or is it something bigger than that? Is it about others? Is it about fulfilling God’s purpose for your life? Is it about loving others? Is it about giving up what you want so that God can work through you as He chooses?

God gives us gifts, passions, and dreams for a purpose. But I think that we sometimes take those gifts, passions, and dreams and only want to use them in a certain way, the way we think is best. But I challenge you to give those gifts, passions, and dreams to God. Let Him use them as He will. It quite possibly won’t be how you expected. It might be hard for you, uncomfortable. It might mean that you must give up a dream that you had. It will definitely mean being selfless and focusing on others. But place it all in His hands. Let Him give you a dream. And then fulfill it with all of your heart! Don’t expect a story and ending like Tangled; expect the story and ending that God has planned for you, even though it might not make sense and even though you may not be able to see it yet.

What’s your dream?

Tangled2Want to stay up to date with these blog posts? Just enter your email address at the bottom of this page and click “follow” to get posts delivered to your inbox.

When Will My Life Begin?

Today’s post is a little different. I’m going to be using a Disney princess song to examine something that we all face and relate to. Believe it or not, Disney movies can be pretty deep and provide some interesting insights into life! Even though I’m using a Disney princess song, we’re going to go deep. This post comes straight from my heart. I pray it encourages, inspires, and challenges you.

Recently, I’ve been giving a whole lot of thought to my “life plan.” What is next year going to look like for me? How about the next five years? Ten years? I’ve also had chances to talk with some of my friends about their thoughts on what their future will look like. This all got me thinking about life and making the “transition” from young person to adult


Tangled-Look-out-the-window

While the song “When Will My Life Begin”, sung by Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled, may at first appear to be just another classic song sung by a classic Disney princess, there’s much thought-provoking material to be found in it. The song describes how Rapunzel looks at her life, how it’s always the same, never going anywhere, and she wonders when will things change, when will her life will really begin.

Honestly, I think this is a question that many of us young people ask ourselves. Especially for those of us who are soon to graduate from high school or college. We look at where we are. We look at the opportunities we have, the relationships we’ve built. We wonder what kind of transition will take place, and when it will happen. “When am I going to do something different from what I’ve been doing all of my life?” “When am I going to ‘move on’ in my life?” “When will my life begin?”

The first reprise of “When Will My Life Begin” says this:

I’ve got my mother’s love
I shouldn’t ask for more
I’ve got so many things
I should be thankful for
Yes, I have everything- except, I guess, a door

We think that in order for life to begin, there has to be a transition, an opportunity where we move from one part of life to the next. But I have an idea, one that I think will encourage and inspire my peers, including myself. What if we shouldn’t be waiting for life to begin? What if it’s already begun?

In the second reprise of the song, Rapunzel sings this:

Look at the world – so close, and I’m halfway to it!
Look at it all – so big – do I even dare?
Look at me – there at last! – I just have to do it
Should I?
No.
Here I go…

These lines suggest not yet having “arrived.” Analyzing this song in the context of the movie is a whole different topic, but what about its application to us? Looking at how it applies to our lives, I’d suggest a slightly different perspective. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. If we are living according to His will, His plan for our lives, then we’re right where He wants us to be right now. And if we’re right where God wants us, then why are we moving? What is there to “arrive at?” In fact, we have arrived! Because we are where God wants us to be.

I think we have a tendency to think that the future is when life will really start, when we’ll do great things. But the future is always a day away! We shouldn’t life our lives waiting for our life to begin. It’s already started! Instead, live your life in the center of God’s will. Live it doing what He’s called you to now. Sure, there will probably be changes later down the road, but that shouldn’t change who you are or how you view what you’re doing now. Don’t wait to start your life or to do big things. Do what God calls you to, regardless of how you perceive the size or the importance or the relevance. It matters to Him, and that’s all that should matter to us.

That’s really comforting. While we may look at where we are in life and wonder how it’s supposed to work, we can be confident in our heavenly Father, knowing we’re following His plan and that His plan is perfect. You don’t have to ask when your life will begin! Don’t wait for it to begin, because your life has already begun! You’re living a life for Christ!

Choose Your Battles…… How?

The phrase “you have to choose your battles” is common. It basically means that you can’t address every problem you encounter, so you have to choose the most important ones and let the rest go. There’s a huge amount of wisdom in this. But how do you choose your battles? How do you decide whether or not something is worth “fighting” for?

Here are a few factors to take into consideration when making a decision regarding whether or not to address an issue or to let it be:

  1. Is it a moral issue? If the answer is no, then it’s most likely not worth addressing. If it’s not an issue regarding right and wrong in God’s eyes, then there can’t be an absolute regarding the issue. Therefore, to address the issue would actually be unwise; you’d be arguing using your own personal preference instead of absolutes. That’s not to say that personal preference isn’t important, but your personal preference isn’t the only one that matters.
  2. Who/what does this issue affect? For me, if the issue is one that only hurts or affects me, then I’m less likely to address it. Not because I want to be the holy martyr, but because I want to be outward-focused, esteeming others above myself (Philippians 2:3). So I’d rather invest my time addressing issues that affect others, not ones that affect myself. I don’t consider this to be a hard and fast rule, but just an important factor to keep in mind.
  3. How will this affect my relationships with those involved? This one is tough. I don’t believe for a moment that we should never offend anyone or do something that might stress or break a relationship. But a good question to ask is, “which is more important: my relationship with this person, or this issue?” Sometimes doing what’s right means breaking or straining a relationship. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in “being right” that we forget that we may hurt people in the process of seeking what’s right when it’s really not worth it and wouldn’t honor Christ.

Ultimately, though, the decision must come from God’s wisdom. Proverbs 2:6 says that “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NKJV). When choosing which battles to fight, pray hard and follow God. The three factors I shared may help, but won’t give you the right answer on their own. In reality, there really isn’t a clear-cut method to determining the answer apart from heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit. And that’s the way it should be.

You Get What You Expect

Take a quick look around your world, and it’s pretty obvious how much of a mess we’re in. Especially when it comes to young people. Young people think they’re entitled to everything, are disrespectful, and it’s pretty sobering to think of what the world will be like once the next generation takes over. If we were to plot this reality on a graph of 0-20 (with zero being as bad as possible and twenty being incredible), it might look something like this:Low reality

But there’s more to this graph. Reality can also be referred to as “results.” Why? Because you get what you expect. In other words, reality is the result of whatever you expect. So there’s actually two parts to this graph: results and expectations. And they are very closely related. Today, we have very low expectations of young people. You might think the reason is because the results are low. But it’s actually the other way around. We have low results because we have low expectations.2

When expectations change, the results will follow to match the expectations. So if you raise your expectations, then your results will rise.3

So what happens when you lower your expectations? The results decrease.5

This is the problem with today’s young people. Our culture expects “not much” from young people, so “not much” is the result. Young people play close attention to the cues given them by adults. And they respond. Society tells us that teenagers go through a rebellious stage. So parents expect their kids to go through a rebellious stage. And so they do. Not because it’s “natural” but because it’s expected. I never went through a rebellious teenager stage. Not because I’m unique, but because my parents didn’t expect me to. In fact, they expected the exact opposite. Results follow expectations.

So if we want better results from young people, what do we have to do? We must raise our expectations. Once our expectations rise, then results will rise to match them. And this trend will continue.7

Not only are we not getting good results by having low expectations, but what are we communicating? If I have low expectations of you, what am I telling you? That I don’t believe in you. That I don’t think you’re capable of something better. That I don’t think you’re mature enough. This is what’s being communicated to young people today. But here’s the deal. Young people won’t become mature unless they’re expected to and are treated like the people they’re expected to be.

Of course, this does’t acquit young people of responsibility for their actions. Not by a long shot! Young people can fight against low expectations. Yet, they might not even realize that there’s something to fight against. The environment young people live in has a great effect on them. I was able to fight against low expectations because of the environment my parents created at home. If that environment doesn’t exist, then young people might not realize that they should be fighting to start with.

If adults expect young people to waste their life, they’ll treat them like that, and young people will waste their life. That’s what we’re seeing today. Let’s reverse that! Adults, I ask you to expect more of us as young people. And we will rise to that expectation. Treat us like the people you want us to be. We will rise to the challenge. Because you always get what you expect.