Hey, it’s been a while, Bob and I have been going through some stuff. This post is raw, and if you are offended by swearing or the thought of being angry at God scares you, do not read this post. Okay, you’ve been warned….
I will admit, the past few months have flat out sucked. It seems everything I do is a push up the hill.
You might be thinking with all my struggles that I missed God’s voice. That I’m going against his wishes. Thus the hardness of the struggle.
Here’s the funny thing, in the struggle I know it’s the direction he wants me pointed.
At the first part of the struggle my heart was filled with joy and hope. That quickly turned to sorrow, pain, misery, self-doubt and distrust of God. I pushed him away. I have felt like he’s led me down a path that is a retread of past struggles.
Why God do you take me down the seemingly same paths? Have I not learned these lessons already?
Then off in the distance I hear a voice. Do I see a man in the distance? Beckoning me to come closer? To keep going down the worn path?
I continue down this path and it comes to a bend in the path. The path before me continues up the hill, it is rocky but well worn. It looks like the way. But off to the left, I see the remnants of a path. It seems to go into a thicket with poison ivy and scrub.
I stand for what seems like a long time. Others pass by me on the path taking the rocky road up the hill, asking if I’m okay and encouraging me to continue on the way.
But there I stand. Listening…
Then I hear that call again. It comes from the unlikely path. I look around, no one else is there, it is just me and I hear the voice again.
“Come down the road less traveled.”
Others pass by.
The voice comes again.
I take the first steps, afraid of what will happen to me with the poison ivy, the brush and the thicket.
I move forward.
The path is hard to see and follow. Every few feet, I have to stop and listen for the voice. At times it seems like an eternity before the voice calls out and shows me the way. If only for a few feet.
Then I stop again… Each time listening for the voice. Sometimes seeing the man, waving me along the way.
When I stop and rest for the night, it seems like it’s the place to be. Then again up in the morning to go again.
Surely this path will lead to paradise, but it seems to lead me no where. At times I get angry at the voice and the man.
“Why doesn’t he just show me the way? Why do I have to keep struggling day after day, night after night. Just when things seem to get better, they seem to get worse. Am I hearing him correctly? Did I miss a turn in the ‘path’?”
My heart grows cold, cynical. I tempt myself by saying “There is no voice”. At times, I’ll go off the unmarked path only to find myself lost, or worse yet, on the rocky road up the hill.
I try the rocky road for a while. At first there seems to be success, but it is tiring. Then the voice whispers again.. ‘come this way’. A new hidden path shows up and off I go again.
This happens time and time again and it never seems to get better.
I feel like I’m in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’, where the same thing plays over and over again and again.
Now my family is with me… they get frustrated with me. Am I hearing the voice correctly? Maybe, I should just get off the ‘path’.
Isn’t there a better path with benefits just over the other hill?
I still my heart and the voice says one simple word to me… “love”.
Along the path, others appear from nowhere. Some are cynical, others are dejected and beaten. Most just look at you, nod and join you on the path. We all hear the voice. We have those who love us who tell us we are crazy, but we stay on the journey.
When night comes and there is no food, no water, no shelter and no fire, we huddle together. Some laughing, some cursing… yet we all laugh and chuckle.
The journey continues. Some fall out, but most stay. Some are called off a path in a different direction and they go off to success, while the rest of us seem to struggle. Envy sets in.. our condition seems to get worse, but the voice is still there calling us forward.
Is this the life? What about our hopes, dreams and the deep faith. Surely God will reward us for our undying faith. Surely we won’t struggle forever in this condition. Certainly there will be a simple house, with a warm fire and food in the cupboard.
But the journey never seems to end, the voice never stops calling us forward and the conditions never seem to get better.
This is the life for many Christian Entrepreneurs.
You reach a point after 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, where you realize your dreams may never come true. Your hopes and dreams may be on the garbage heap of life. And you are not cool with that thought.
Your heart gets hard, you curse God. You tell him to fuck off and go to hell. Vearing off the path, only to come back to the path and group more humbled, more in love and laughing at your situation more and more.
This is the journey folks.
I don’t know if your entrepreneur journey will be better or worse. I just know it’s a journey and that the money in your bank account, the kind of car you drive doesn’t mean you didn’t hear God.
Maybe the path you are on is for the next generation. Maybe it’s for your children, for the lessons they’ll learn from watching you.
Maybe it’s for nobody but you and your relationship with God.
That after years of hurt, pain, suffering, misguided steps, that you will try and love again.
The question after lunch went like this, “Why do you think they’re so invested in this thing?”
I initially responded, “I have no idea”.
Then…all of a sudden…I said, “Wait, I know EXACTLY why. Because their identity is so wrapped up in this that if it ever failed or if they left, they would lose part of themselves.”
It was so powerful that I couldn’t even believe I said it – I just didn’t understand this before that moment. It’s all about IDENTITY.
I’ve heard Jim Robbins and John Lynch write/speak about this. I’ve read other authors that touched on this, but not directly.
The reason we defend something so fiercely, the reason we hold on to something to strongly, and the reason we spiral into a depression when it’s no longer there – is that we attach our personal identity to a THING or a PERSON.
Here’s the danger – THINGS by nature cannot last forever. PEOPLE are certainly mortal, and they have the propensity to let us down because they are not perfect. So when we attach our identity to a PERSON or a THING, we are on a collision course that ends up in a fireball.
Here’s how I know this…because I do this.
- I am a business owner and an entrepreneur. When my business is good, I am happy. When my business is not good, I’m not. To go deeper, when my business tanked in 2009, it sent me to the hospital eventually with panic attacks. I haven’t hit a home run, let alone an extra base hit in like 3 years. I have this voice in my head, that won’t go away. It tells me I’m a failure in business. I had my shot. I blew it. Success is for someone else. This paralyzes me sometimes. What’s the truth?
- I was a member of a church for 40 years, and a leader there for 20. When I resigned from leadership, I was lost. When I left the church, it was traumatic. Even though Arlene and I clearly heard God call us to do this, the little doubts from others that we are quitting or just bitter hurt me and instead of thanking God for doing something great in our life, I obsess over the handful of doubters – not the people that cheer us on. Can’t I just trust God in this? I’m missing the blessing because I’m focusing on the negative?
Here’s some more…
- I was a coach for 24 years. When I stopped coaching for a season, I felt lost.
- I am a pleaser. If I sense, or know that a person doesn’t like me for some reason, it’s powerful enough to derail my other friendships because I will obsess about the one person that doesn’t like me.
- I am a provider. When I could no longer provided income for my family, when I had to lay off staff, it caused me to go into a mild depression. Hell, it still bothers me that I had to lay off people that did good work and I loved deeply. Sometimes it totally takes a productive day away from me.
- I need to know I’m right. So I enjoy when people agree with me and validate my thoughts and beliefs. There’s safety in numbers, right? If 10 people agree with me, but 1 disagrees, I’m toast. I will obsess over the 1 person.
- Silly, but I am a White Sox fan, and believe it or not, some days my mood is based on the fact the Sox won or lost. Is this normal behavior?
- I am a father. When I have a bad day as a father, and I let my kids down, it bothers me. I then begin to believe I am not a good father at all.
- I am a husband. There are days when I really screw up as a partner and I let Arlene down. It makes me think I am a bad husband.
There’s more, but I think you get the point. Attaching my identity to someone, or something has no positive value to me.
Many of the things I am believing are lies – maybe it’s my enemy, but mostly it’s my own mind.
Yes….this is a battle over my mind. Not my heart. That battle is over. My heart is good. It’s my mind that needs to be renewed. Until I start to live out of who God says I am, I can never really live well. Until I stop obsessing over what other people think about me, I can never really love all people well. Until I begin to separate my identity from my outcomes, I will be paralyzed.
It’s all about identity. Once I understand this in myself, and in others, I can start living a more peaceful life.
When people defend their truth, when they defend their institution, when they question me – it’s not personal. They’re defending their identity. Can I be strong enough to live out of who God says I am? Can I go one step further and see people as God sees them – looking past their behaviors and words and into what’s really happening?
What have you discovered about your identity? Have you experienced trauma yourself in regards to ‘losing your identity’ when you no longer had that thing or person in your life?
I’d love for you to share your thoughts and pass on to friends too.
Which one do you prefer, the Merry-Go-Round or the Roller-Coaster? Do you like things that are simple, predictable and safe? Or do you like to get the thrill of your lifetime taking dips, turns and screaming at the top of your lungs for it to stop?
If you go to the amusement park, you’ll see there is a line for the Roller Coaster but not one for the Merry-Go-Round. If there is a line, it’s filled with infants and grandparents. No one ever runs to get back in line for the Merry-Go-Round, but they do for the Roller Coaster.
At the beginning of the year for the Parks, the owners make a big deal about the new Roller Coaster. How scary it is, how fast, how your heart will bust out of your chest cause you’ll pull so many G’s.
You never hear a park manager talking about the new Merry-Go-Round and pretty new horses, the smoothness of the ride or the state of the art circle.
Basically people like to live life on the edge. People don’t want to be bored. That’s why the Roller Coasters are the big deal and the Merry-Go-Round is not.
Why is it then, that people want the Merry-Go-Round in their everyday life? They want a good safe predictable church, quite Bible Study groups, kids who are well behaved, safe secure 401k’s, universal HealthCare, jobs that never change, perfect marriages and retirements spent waiting to die in Florida at phase 23 of Boca, Del Boca Vista condo development.
I’ll tell you why. Because advertising, marketing and the church (Yes, the church) tell us it should be that way. We should have safe, secure, predictable lives. Think about it you are the perfect Christian if….
- Your kids attend Bible Study, go on mission trips, don’t swear or watch MTV.
- You don’t have sex before marriage, never fight and the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church.
- You attend Crown financial and live well below your budget. Never having any financial issues, because you tithe, manage your money and live well below your means.
- Your business or work is smooth stable and has an impecible reputation.
I don’t know about you, but none of that matches my life. Basically, I violate all of those above and more. My life is full of ups, downs, twists, turns and anxiety. Hey, I’m human… okay?
My life looks like a warp speed Roller Coaster ride, pulling 4 g’s on the hard turns, making my stomach lurch, thinking I’m gonna vomit. Only to have the ride end, catch my breath and run to get back in line to do it again.
Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?
I’ll tell you why. God made us to experience adventure. He never intended us to live simple, boring, predictable lives. At least not those of us who Renegade Christian Entrepreneurs.
Life as a believer is to be a wild haired ride, with the wind whipping in your hair and bugs splattered on your teeth from grinning too much.
It’s the thrill of the twists and turns that makes life so darn enjoyable.
Most entrepreneurs I know get bored easily. They like to live on the edge, pushing the envelope of life. Many of my entrepreneur friends would have made great apostles. They would have loved the thrill of living on the edge, not knowing where they were going to sleep that night, eat that morning or if they’d be in prison by sundown.
Yeah, the Merry-Go-Round is safe, but it’s boring. I’d rather hear the click clack of the roller coaster and the screams of utter joy and terror.
What about you?