What if….

A little over a year ago, I came to a difficult realization. I talk about doing alot of things, but seldom see them through. I had found, up to that point, that I would speak quite a bit about doing a number of different things, but when it came to the actual doing, I seemed to fall short.

I suppose some of this is based in perception, and is a bit subjective. Next month will mark 6 years ago that I competed in my first (and only) bodybuilding contest. For that contest, I trained and dieted for an entire year. I set aside all other facets of life and focused solely on my preparation. Life essentially stopped for that year, as anything short of family or work were an afterthought, and anything undertaken was first and foremost considered within the immediate question of “what effect will this have on November?” But anytime I was asked as to why I was doing the show, my immediate response was always, “because I wanted to set a goal and see it through to its completion.”

It took me some time to get used to “normal” life after November of 2003. Not long after the dust settled from the relentless contest prep and endless dieting, I found myself in something of a rut…..a rut I remained in for the better part of the next 5 years. The rut was this: I woke, I worked, I came home, and I slept. Rinse, and repeat.

Sure, life continued outside of those things. A few nice family vacations, a stint in More In Sorrow of close to 4 years. But even my time in More In Sorrow, for as involved as I have always been in music and for as much time as was devoted to playing shows and the band, amounted to little more than a hobby to me, albeit a passionate one. I loved my time with that band, and still think of it with fond memories. But when that chapter ended for me, it ended.

Back to the grind.

Until last year. Last year, I began to really come to grips with the fact that most of my time was spent in routine. Mind you, from a family perspective, I’m not complaining. My wife and my children are everything to me, and no part of any of this entry is meant to imply anything to the contrary. The ways in which they enrich my life and bring me joy are countless. But I came to a point in life where I really began to question the bigger picture, and whether or not I would just think about things, or talk about things, and never act.

I think as believers, we get too caught up in the routine. All people have gifts and talents that they possess, but especially believers have not only gifts and talents, but a means by which they can make those gifts count for something real and tangible, something with eternal impact. But how many of us don’t utilize those talents, for whatever reason?

For better or worse, and even though it is probably a bit dated now, one of my favorite movies is “Dead Poet’s Society”. Anyone who has seen the movie knows the lesson Robin Williams teaches on the very first day of class to his students.

“Carpe Diem.”

“Sieze the day.”

No day is as important as today is, and no decision is more vital to your being than what you decide to do with that day. How often have we been caught up in our routine that we forget all the potential God has given us? How many times have we shelved our talents because of a lack of foresight or a fear of failure?

One of my best friends wrote a blog here where he quite simply said, “You can’t fail if you don’t try.” And really, that’s the whole thing. That thought this last year has gotten me thinking: Do you sing? Can you write? Do you act? What is stopping you from exploiting that talent? I mean, COMPLETELY exploiting it? Too often we put our talents on the shelf. We set them aside because we don’t think we can be the next Dave Matthews, Tom Clancy, or Tom Hanks. We have lost that sense of doing something with excellence, subjecting our trade to that of the mediocre, or worse still, we’ve forgotten it altogether, and settled instead for a life of waking, working, and waiting to die.

So a year ago, I endeavored to try. I determined that whatever talents God gave me, I was going to use. You can’t fail if you don’t try, but in the failing comes the success. Learning what you didn’t know before. Looking for the opportunities that sit in front of you, and when you don’t see those opportunities, making them.

I see so many people every day who simply live, only waiting to die. They have families, they have jobs, but it’s as if they have no direction or ambition to go after those things they are truly passionate about. For so long, that seemed so normal. Now, it’s definitively abnormal to me. I decided that I refused to be one of those people who ended up asking “what if….” What if I would have done this or that? What if I would have taken advantage of that opportunity? What if I would have decided to move on that desire?

What it came down to for me was simply this: God has not done the things in my life that He has so I can wedge myself into routine and wait to die. This is not the end of my story. Whatever roads He takes me down, and whatever lies ahead, I refuse to believe that anything I do or set my mind to has to be ordinary or routine. God created us for so much more than that. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Everything we do is a praise to the One who made us. Yes, that includes our daily routine, our jobs, raising our kids, but doesn’t it also include all the things you’d love to take a stab at, but are too afraid to undertake? Too often we get caught in our box mentality, where everything we are has to fit comfortably into a certain criteria.

You can’t fail if you don’t try.

The only way you’ll know if you’re a writer is if you try writing a book.
The only way you’ll know if you’re a musician is if you write a song.
The only way you’ll know if you’re an artist is if you paint a picture.
The only way you’ll know if you’re destined for something greater is if you let God use your talents and gifts for His glory, and go for it.

Exploit it, do something you never considered before. Allow yourself the chance to fail so you can succeed. Don’t end up full of regret, asking yourself, “What if……”.

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  • Signorelli  On October 11, 2009 at 8:46 am

    You had to write a blog to be a blogger, yo! Now on to world domination!

    • Raymond  On October 11, 2009 at 10:34 am

      Great thoughts Jeff. Since I have gotten back from Atlanta I have been in my own sort of slump. I blame it on being out of my environment (the city), but really that’s just an excuse for me to try and not adapt…

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