For years, I have heard others talk about their life journey, or they will ask, “What is your story?” I have never felt like I had an answer, and to this day I feel like my story is evolving. In 2016, my wife, Danielle, and I were able to attend a weekend couples retreat in Colorado called “A Weekend to Remember” with facilitators Dan & Julie Brenton.
The Brenton’s teachings resonated deeply within me. Dan spoke about our past experiences and how they “mark us.” I think about that comment a lot — how do past experiences mark me? Past experiences then shape my future perspective.
Now, as I engage with others, I see how experiences can and DO shape our lives. The problem is, not every experience is one that we want to share our lives. We all have had horrible experiences that we never wish to share publicly. How many people have stories that we can’t, or wouldn’t want to imagine?
Unfortunately, too many!
It took awhile after heart surgery for me to be able to tell everyone about what I had just experienced. Not because I was ashamed that it happened to me but that I couldn’t believe that a 32-year-old could be having open heart surgery. It took TIME to process the event, TIME to get through the pain and rehab issues, and TIME to then realize how truly thankful and blessed I was to have been able to “fix” the problem after having four strokes.
I wanted to share my story so that others would know that during our lives, “bad things do happen.” I wanted my thoughts and feelings to come across in a way that may give hope to others. When I was suffering from anxiety, depression and my health issues, it was the support and hope from others that kept me going. Now, I wanted to give back; I guess you could say pay it forward?
The more I shared my story; the more others started opening up to me with their accounts. I realized that I was going through life talking and not listening. The practice of opening up, being authentic and transparent, made me more aware of others life journey and what has “marked” them.
Continuing to shape my perspective with respect to Time
It won’t all get done today, and I have to be ok with that. I remember so clearly as I walked out of the Hospital with my wife on Sat Apr 13, 2010.
Coming out of this crazy experience I wanted to get everything done now. I had my first look at death coming to the realization there might not be a tomorrow! I had always been driven, but this experience led me to believe everything needed to get done “today.”
My wife, on the other hand, had an entirely different take. Her perception was life just flashed before our eyes; we need to slow down. We need embrace this time and cherish what we do have.
My impatience and anxiety were more than both of us could handle. I wanted to get back to work as fast as possible and push through any issues that stood in our way. She helped me realize that we need to embrace today and it is a gift. Over the years, I would say we meet in the middle and balance each other. I am thankful for her partnership and support!
Looking at life through a macro lens
Every day I seem to overestimate what I can do, just ask my wife. However, when I look back on the year, I am completely amazed at how much we accomplished.
I want to look at the yearly scenario more and not get bothered by the days where boxes go unchecked. AGAIN, losing grandparents, the loss of my nephew, my surgery – – have all given me a greater respect for appreciating each day.
“It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that count” ~Adlai Stevenson
For me, challenging times are when I step back and look at the bigger picture. The last thing I want is a hardship, but many times there are valuable lessons and relationships that come from these! Yes, we are told to see the bigger picture all the time. For me, I have to be intentional about this process, or small things become my focus. I continue to remember the significant rocks and try not to stumble on the gravel.
Learning to live for the journey and not the destination
I love to cross things off the list. Life is not always like that; it is similar to my faith walk. I continue to learn, grow and move toward a deeper understanding every day. But there is no THERE…
Someone once told me, we are not “journey” people; we are “destination” people. I had never really thought about it before but so many times that is how I live. My perspective is about the destination, but life happens in the margins, and the steps in getting to the destination are just as important.
In summary, how has my perspective evolved?
The more experiences I encounter, the more my perspective evolves. Some positive, some negative, but I can choose how I respond based on my life perspective. I need to slow down, look at the bigger picture and remember that each day is a gift and sometimes the daily journey is just as important as when we arrive at the finish line.
This is how our family can make every step count.