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The Illusion of a Journey

Updated: May 10, 2023

Riding a Merry-Go-Round creates the illusion that you are actually going somewhere important and riding in style.

When we stumbled across this double decker Merry-Go-Round in Brownsville, TX I must confess, I was tempted to buy a ticket and take a whirl. There is something magical about the tinsel music, colorful lights and ornate horses that move as though they are leaping over hedges in a fox hunt. If the "wild ride" is more than your heart can handle you may choose an ornate, but stationary, bench seat and imagine you are floating down the nile or are being carried in a gurney by footmen in some exotic city. However, after the 2nd or 3rd rotation the fantasy is done, boredom sets in and most passengers are ready to get off the merry-go-round and move on to the next adventure. 


Rotations and routine are an unavoidable fact of life. We see it all around us in the seasons, in collective generations, jobs, raising children, getting an education, fashion, design, and the list goes on and on...and on.

We are created to be challenged, to grow, to learn and to contribute to the community where we live. New life-cycles may begin as an exciting thrill but as the rotation goes around yet one more day we may find ourselves to be bored, unchallenged, stagnant and ready to jump off for the next great adventure. Unfortunately this is not always possible or even responsible.

Remember how exciting starting school was, as a kid, when you got new school supplies, new clothes and new friends until day in and day out routines made you long for...

Summer vacation, which is thrilling for kids until boredom drives them to long for the new school year, routine, friends and more new challenges.

Marriage is a completely new and wonderful adventure until romance is shadowed by the routine of going to work, cleaning house, cooking meals, paying bills and general life management.

Raising children is life's greatest joy until diapers, kid clutter, and the need for adult conversation drives you to consider going back to the workplace.

The workplace and new challenges are exciting until you have worked day in and day out for a bit too long and you start thinking about your exit strategy toward retirement.

Unfortunately, many people are leaping off the rotation due to boredom and the result is that marriages are suffering, kids are dropping out of school, Moms are abandoning families, Dads are trading in for "newer models" and round and round we go.

Remember Why You Started

My friend Cassandra Petelo gave me a little plaque that says, "Remember why you started." She was a significant team member who partnered with us to manage our nonprofit organization. As a team we were excited to see our labors produce effective change but, the work could also be overwhelming, stressful and often times tedious and mundane. During those times we had to encourage ourselves by, "Remembering why we started."  

Create a Mission Statement

Every corporation has a mission statement. A clearly defined mission statement is a concise outline of the purpose and the existence of the company. It should be publicized for both staff members and customers to view so everyone is reminded of the goals the company is committed to accomplishing. It makes sense that if a mission statement is important for companies, it should be equally important for individuals. Defining the importance of the work you are doing encourages you to stay focused and on task. This is the opportunity to clearly define what you want most in life and set about the task of creating the life that you love.

Who Is Affected

No man is an island entire of itself;

every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

as well as if a promontory were,

as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;

any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

it tolls for thee. "John Donne"

We do well to remember that people rely upon us as we rely upon them. Think about the chain reaction that will happen if you remove yourself from the mundane rotation of your responsibilities.

Create a Plan

If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar.

What do you want most in life? Write it down. Journaling has been one of the most impactful disciplines of my life. Documenting my life plan and then reading my past journal entries reminds me, not only of my dreams and goals, but also my accomplishments. I am encouraged to keep my hands to the plow when I know that my life is making a difference and my dreams are becoming reality. Sometimes I don't even realize that I have accomplished set goals until I go back and re-read my journal entries.

Plan Your Exit

It helps to know when it's time to jump off the merry-go-round and move on to another phase of life and to plan what you want the next stage to look like. The "empty nest syndrome" happens because Moms and Dads don't build an exit strategy for the job of parenting. When your entire life and focus has been on raising children and suddenly they leave for college, you find yourself wondering how life will ever have purpose and value. I've heard it said that retirees can have a really hard time with retirement because they don't know what to do with all the free time on their hands. They also lose a sense of self worth because they are no longer contributors to an important cause. Not only should you plan when your next phase will happen, but what the next phase will look like and how you plan to "give back".

Prepare for the Unexpected

Life happens. That's why we carry insurance. Don't we wish we could know the future so we could plan accordingly? It's not necessarily healthy to dwell on all the scenarios or drastic turns that your life could take. Sickness, divorce, bankruptcy, death and a myriad of other tragedies could suddenly pounce on any one of us at any time. Both Grady and I have faced many traumas that left us reeling, but we built our "house" on a solid foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God has carried us through. Because of our faith in God, we were not swamped with fear and devastation. And we still stand.  

Take heed to this Father's instruction:

Proverbs 4:10-12

Listen, my son, and receive my words, and the years of your life will be many. I will guide you in the way of wisdom; I will lead you on straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; when you run, you will not stumble.…

There is such wisdom in God's Holy Word. It is a light for your feet and a lamp for your path. You will find wisdom if you search for it with all your heart. Read it daily and...

Go with God.

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