Saturday, August 18, 2012

Growth Obstacles

I got an email today with some stunning photography in it – and it included one picture that especially caught my eye. The email was from my Mother, who loves to send me emails. I get a lot of them from her. I appreciate them because they often (though not always - LOL) give me some insights or amusement.  This one caught my eye because it reminded me of how growth – no matter what the growth looks like – can encounter some amazing obstacles.

The image above is the one that my mother’s email included. It is of a tree growing up into and through an old car. For me, when I saw it, the tree represented the individual and how we grow. It is still just a tree. It grows with sunshine, water, and nutrients. It grows based on the wind that twists it and the type of tree it is. It grows despite the obstacles that get in its way. Some grow off the side of mountain tops, some grow in desolate places, and some grow in the midst of friends and forests. But they grow anyway.

The tree in this picture either had its origins as a seed that blew in and took root there – or it was already growing when the old car was abandoned over it. But the tree kept growing and growing and growing. It made adaptations and changes to grow – despite the obstacle that was in its way. It grows through the car – through the large and small openings in the car. It grew despite the obstacle. It grew to reach the sunlight and the rain. It grew to be what it was created to be.

That’s important for us, too. We grow despite the obstacles. Sometimes we grow right through them. We have to be persistent. We have to adapt and change to the circumstances. We have to find the small and large openings to grow through.

But sometimes we get derailed by the obstacles in our way. We stop growing … we get stuck. We refuse to find a way to grow despite the struggles.

But this is the exact time that our growth can be the most potent and lasting. When we grow in the midst of obstacles we are choosing to be all of who God created us to be. When we grow we are embracing what God wants of us and for us. When we grow despite the obstacles we are growing with God’s grace.

We will all encounter obstacles. As my Dad said often when I was growing up, “Nobody promised you that life would be easy.” But we are not alone in our growth. God is with us in this growth. God is blessing us with sunshine, rain and nutrients – all we need to grow. God is here – right now – cheering on your growth, sending you all you need, loving you through the obstacles.

So, here’s my invitation to you – grow despite the obstacles. Grow in the midst of the hard times that you find yourself in. Hang on to anything you can grab hold of.

Find a way. Don’t give up.

Keep growing. Don’t give up.

Make a way through the obstacle. Don’t give up.

God is with you. Don’t give up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Going for Gold ... Or Not!

The past week and a half, many people in the world have been watching the Games of the 30th Olympiad from London, England. Some were focused on swimming or gymnastics or track and some just watched whatever was on. Some complained about the tape-delayed nature of the Games (especially since everyone and their dog were posting the results without spoiler warnings). Some were rooting for their own country's athletes and some were rooting for the best "story" of the field.

The truth is ... the vast majority of the athletes competing in the games will never win a medal or hear their country's national anthem played after receiving a gold medal. Many represent countries which have rarely even won gold medals.

The public hears about the golden gods and goddesses of the Games. And don't get me wrong - I enjoy watching Michael Phelps swim or the Chinese divers dive or the USA basketball teams trounce teams. But that is not what the Olympics are all about. They are about doing one's best to represent their sport, their country and themselves on the field of sport.

One of my favorite stories from Olympic Games are the athletes who swim for the first time in an Olympic sized pool, because their country has none that big. Or stories about athletes and their communities having to have bake sales to raise money to send them to London. Or stories about little known athletes rising to the occasion and doing their personal best in an event even if they come in last place.

These athletes are my heroes. These athletes are the ones to whom we owe our awe and appreciation. But once again those who win will get fame and glory. And they deserve some of it.

However, I for one want to remember the stories of the athletes who beat the odds, amazed even themselves with their performances, and made their countries beam with pride -- no matter what place they got in their event.

I want to remember Grenadian sprinter Kirani James trading name tags with Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, after a semifinal of the 400m race. I want to remember Sherab Zam, an archer from Bhutan, who only wanted to compete and introduce her country to others around the world. She was eliminated after only 6 arrows but did her country proud. I want to remember Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, stopping a live television interview because a medal ceremony was happening and he wanted to respect the medal winners.

 I want to remember the athletes who won no medals but did their best. That's all we can do -- our best with all that God has blessed us with.

I will never be an Olympic athlete, but I am enough. I don't need any medals to show me or anyone else that. (I do, however, have a "World's Greatest Mom" card I can show you if you ask).

So root on your favorite athletes -- the medalists and the idealists. But save a few cheers for the other athletes, Moms and Dads, bus drivers, cashiers, wait staff, mail carriers, teachers, police officers, and others in your life as well who deserve our awe and appreciation. They are enough, too.