February’s monthly journal challenge is a little bit of a soul-searcher. This month’s topic:
What Holds You Back?
I hope you will take the time to look into your own soul and discover your own answers, because if you can identify what holds you back, then you can make a plan to break down those barriers and become the person you are meant to be! You are worth it!
What Holds Me Back?
I think I could write a book on this topic! There are so many things that hold me back from so many other things! For instance, embarrassment holds me back from speaking my mind. What if I am wrong? What if no one agrees with me? Public humiliation is a strong deterrent for me. However, the older I get, the weaker its power is on me. As I age and gain perspective on life, I realize that others’ opinions of me really don’t matter so much. God’s opinion of me matters tremendously, though. This realization is really the only thing that has allowed me to overcome personal fears and do some things in my life that I never imagined I could.
Aging bodies can hold us back from having fun physically. We talk a lot about how much we hate aging; our wrinkles, our aches and pains, our physical struggles, but we rarely talk about the beauties of aging. What are they to me? Courage, confidence, wisdom, perspective, and the ability to forgive and extend grace to others. Physical aging is difficult and challenging, but spiritual aging can be beautiful!
Oh, how I wish I could physically go back to being 20 with the knowledge I’ve gained spiritually and have the best of both worlds at once! How amazing that would be!
The courage I had as a 20-year-old is laughable to me now, and I’m sure that to my future 80-year-old self, the courage that I have now, in my forties, will pale in comparison to what I’ll have then. But yes, lack of courage very much holds me back.
Lack of confidence holds me back at times too, but I am learning to say to the world, “Look out, world, here I come! I don’t care what you think of me!” But on the inside, I still do a little bit. I still want a pat on the back for a job well done, some recognition for accomplishments. But little by little, I am leaning to be comfortable in my own skin. It’s definitely a process, kind of a difficult journey, but I’m a lot further along in that journey than I was five years ago, and I’m finally learning who I am.
Courage and confidence go hand-in-hand. I cannot build my confidence without having the courage to step out of my comfort zone. The more I am able to exercise courage, the greater my confidence can become. And you know, it’s really silly to me when I think about and realize what kinds of dilemmas I need to use courage in. They seem so inconsequential to me when I am able to define them! Take, for example, meeting new people. This is a very scary situation for me. That sounds so silly! And I would just think others who said meeting new people is scary to them, were being silly, and yet, it is scary to me. I get very nervous! But once I meet them, I think, “why was I so nervous?” I think it’s this way with a lot of situations in our lives that seem scary. Once it’s behind us, we think, “well that was no big deal!” And our confidence grows! But it really does take courage to get through situations that make us uncomfortable.
Lack of wisdom holds me back at times from making the best choices. I cannot even say that I am at all wise when compared to my parents, but hey, I can say that I am wiser than my children, so there’s a starting point! What is wisdom anyway? To me, I think of being able to weigh a situation’s possible outcomes, based on what decisions I have available to make, and having the maturity to choose the better way. Selfishness sometimes gets in the way of my choosing the wiser course, though, even when I do recognize a better outcome! Why is that? I probably need to work on getting rid of some pride, ha!
Sometimes I am so thick in the middle of a situation that I cannot get a clear perspective of the big picture. I think this ties into wisdom and maturity, also. Being able to step outside of myself mentally and see my situation from an outsider’s perspective really helps me make better, wiser decisions.
The thing that holds me back, in my life in general, more than anything else, is when I have a difficult time forgiving others and extending grace to them. They’re kind of the same thing, right? Why does this hold me back, and what does it hold me back from? Well, it holds me back from freedom. I am a slave to a grudge when I can’t forgive. It eats at my soul and it cankers my spirit. And even though I know this, it is still so extremely difficult sometimes to let go of that grudge! It’s mine, and you can’t take it away from me! In what world does this even make sense? Why would I ever hold onto something this damaging? I don’t know why it is easier to talk about forgiving than it is to actually forgive, because it makes complete sense to forgive and have a free and clean spirit, but for some odd reason, it’s like trying to separate atoms under a microscope!
I often think of Spiderman when I think about forgiving. Do you remember the black Spiderman? The evil one that crept over him and attached itself to him and controlled his thoughts and actions? Do you remember how Spiderman fought like crazy to pull the sticky black monster from his face? Ugh! That’s how it feels sometimes! Like that grudge is connected to me at a cellular level that’s nearly impossible to separate from my soul! It can seriously feel like a life-and-death struggle, which is why I often think of this scene from one of the Spiderman movies. And no, I don’t even remember which movie it’s from, but that scene just really made an impression on me!
Ok, so there you have it! I struggle with this more than anything. I feel like when I do finally learn to forgive on demand, to extend grace to others as freely as my Savior does, then I will be able to say that NOTHING holds me back! But I do want you to know that I have been able to forgive very difficult things in my life! And it truly is a serious spiritual hurdle that, when conquered, propels us leaps and bounds ahead of most of the population of the world on the path of being able to conquer ourselves, where nothing holds us back!
If you would like to join in the monthly journal challenge, you can start now, or you can go back to January’s challenge and catch up! Click on the link below to see January’s challenge.