Have you ever played Candy Crush? It’s a popular and rather addictive game. You progress through the levels by amassing points, eliminating enough jelly, and bringing down various fruit. The premise is simple: you match colors in groups of three or more to score. Eliminating more than three items nets you some additional ‘perks’ to use in the game. There are time bombs that have to be eliminated and that nasty chocolate that creeps across and blocks access to parts of the board as well as a limited number of moves for each level. Some levels were easy to conquer and then some have taken me weeks to master.
There are times that my life feels like a Candy Crush game. I can get so focused on getting a bonus piece that I totally overlook the chocolate that is taking over my board. In life, I am just as guilty of focusing too much in one area and totally missing the truly important stuff. I try so hard to get what is important in the moment and I lose everything in the end.
So how do I live in this moment but keep my focus on the bigger picture? What IS the bigger picture? That’s where Faith come into play. Too often my faith in only as strong as a three or four-color string of candy. When the chocolate creeps across and makes things difficult, I panic and fall apart. I need to have complete faith and trust on the promises God had given me through His word:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
I have to stop focusing on MY little plans and adventures. In 2014, I pray that my goals and plans are God designed, not of the Candy Crush variety. I desire my heart to belong to my Lord and Savior and follow his lead in my life. No matter what creeps in and offers a distraction, I will focus on the higher goal.
This won’t be easy. The “candy” in life is everywhere. I will enjoy bits and pieces along the way, I just can’t allow my focus to be dependent on the perks. What about you? Do you live a Candy Crush life? Is this the year to make a difference in your life?
When my kids were little, we would visit area water parks. At the time, there were 2 larger parks and then a smaller one on our side of town. The kids loved to go. They liked the slides and chutes, the faster and higher the better. My favorite parts of the park was the lazy river and the wave pool. There weren’t lots of stairs to climb or blind turns in the dark tunnels. And best of all, the water forced up my nose was held to a minimum. I just enjoyed drifting along in the waves, going nowhere in particular.
Drifting can be a relaxing and mindless activity. You just enjoy the gentle rocking up and down and let the waves carry you along. It works really well in an enclosed park. But, mindless drifting can get you into trouble in the ocean. Before you realize it, you can be further away from the shore than you ever intended. It’s easy to be totally lost with no idea where to go if you don’t pay attention. And the effort to get back on course is often exhausting at best.
Sometimes in life it’s just easier to go with the flow, to just drift along and do what comes easy. Then, I look around and wonder where I am and how did I get here? Often it’s the rush of the falling rapids of my life that get my attention. How do I get back on track with “the plan”? Is it even worth trying? And I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve watched others drift past and wondered when are they going to realize the rapids are coming even as I ignore my own destination.
One of the few things I remember from the Franklin-Covey training I received many years ago was this: If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time! When I allow myself to just drift along, I am choosing to aim for nothing. Dreams and plans require some effort. I have to open my eyes to the possibilities. I have to allow myself to dream even if those dreams may never be reality. Even failure is better than simply drifting. I have to stop retreating to the lazy river and make an effort to jump into the rapids. I need to take aim at life and with that the responsibility of where I’m going.
I don’t like to fail. I don’t like to look silly. As a result, I very rarely attempt anything unless I have a pretty good idea that I will do well at it. I’ve been told I probably missed out on a lot of fun things, but I just saw no need to take a chance on failure. As an adult, I find that I have a similar response to setting goals. This year has been no different. At work and in private, I’m being urged (and in some cases required) to set goals. I. Hate. It. Everything I read, seems to ask: “What is your purpose?” “What is your dream?” or “What is your goal?” And every time, I draw a blank. I just don’t know. Is that bad? I put off any required goal setting to the very last-minute. I don’t want to fail, so I don’t want to document the possibility of failure. Why take a chance?
Several years ago, a friend asked me where I wanted to be in five years. I was recently widowed and could honestly say that every goal or dream I had for the future was buried with my husband. I had a hard time seeing into the next week, much less imagining the next five years. In fact, the very idea of the future was just too painful at that time. So, I stopped dreaming. I stopped planning. I just moved from one day to the next. I guess I didn’t totally stop all planning. I still had to manage a household. I had kids that needed support and guidance. But, my goals were often day-to-day survival. I’ve progressed to a little more long-term planning. But sometimes, I think I’ve forgotten how to dream.
A recent blog by Holley Gerth, has challenged me to find my God-sized dream. I honestly don’t know what that dream looks like in my life. I’m asking to God to show me my dream, to give me the courage to actually dream. Am I brave enough to dream again? Am I willing to look silly in order to dream? Am I truly ready to expose my heart again to dreams and goals that may result in pain along the way? I think I am. I hope I am.