Looscaunagh Lough is a little lake on the edge of Killarney National Park in Ireland. I drove by it at least a dozen times during my stay in County Kerry. For me, it was heaven on earth. There were several abandoned cottages and I thought how simple and grand life would be if I could love in a little cottage besides Looscaunagh. I imagine it's just a boring plot of land beside a wee lake to most Irishmen, but I thought it was as close to perfect as one could hope to find. It was just one of two places that I have been in this world where I felt I belonged.
"If you don't distance yourself from the wrong people, you will never meet the right people."
~ Joel Osteen
What a beautifully simple concept. For years I clung to the wrong people - people so toxic that I felt I needed a decontamination shower after spending time with them. Then there were the people who weren't loyal to me but to their need of me. Once their needs changed, so did their loyalty.
I held onto those people out of fear. "What if I end the friendship and spend the next fifteen years looking for a new friend? What if I die alone? Since God delivered me to this family, He might think I am unforgiving and ungrateful if I stop talking to them."
Fear kept me in painful and toxic relationships. Fear motivated me to forgive people when they were cruel, disloyal, abusive, or negligent. Fear is a powerful motivator. Healthy fear protects you from making dangerous or unwise decisions. Unhealthy fear paralyzes you and makes it difficult to move away from the familiar, even if that familiar is painful.
The same principle could be applied to the pursuit of one's dreams.
"If you don't distance yourself from the wrong dreams, you will never achieve the right dreams."
Having ADD means I spend a lot of time distracted, engaged in pointless pursuits or in chasing shiny things that suddenly attract my attention. A few years ago, I started making Christmas ornaments as a way to distract myself from family problems. I spent months making decoupage ornaments. When boxes of ornaments covered my kitchen island, family room bar, and dining room table, I did what anyone would do: I sold them on eBay and Etsy. A sane person would have pocketed her profit and moved on. I made more ornaments. What had started as a relaxing pastime quickly turned into an all-consuming distraction. It was also a major diversion that kept me from continuing to pursue my real dream: to be a multi-published author.
For years, I doggedly wrote historical fiction. Even though I received enough rejection letters to wallpaper the Taj Mahal, I kept writing historical romances. I had dream myopia. I put on my blinders and trotted the track - around and around and around. A few close friends said, "Why don't you try a new path? You're funny. You should try writing chick lit."
Unhealthy fear fell upon me like one of Wile E. Coyote's anvils and made it nearly impossible for me to move. The thing about anvils? They freaking hurt. After a while, you are so exhausted from the pain you are willing to gnaw off your own leg just to get away from it.
We hear stories about courageous people. Often they are described as Herculean men and Amazonian women - soldiers who evade capture, firemen who run into burning buildings, mothers who lift vehicles to free their trapped off-spring, a teenager who survives a plane crash and then fights her way through miles of jungle just to reach help. No offense to them, but they kinda give courage a bad rap.
Their admirable acts are so freaking awesome they make our challenges seem trivial. "I mean, seriously, if a blind elderly woman with one leg and one kidney can climb Mount Everest, you should be able to end a friendship/write a book/join a new church/apply for that job."
No challenge is trivial. They might not all be Mount Everest - maybe they're merely foothills. It's all about perspective though.
Sometimes, courage doesn't come with a bolt of lightning, but with a bone-weariness need to change, to move away from the pain.
It takes courage to say, "I am going to stop chasing the wrong dreams/friend/man/career and remain faithful that God will show me the path toward the right dream/friend/man/career."
Be quietly, wearily courageous. You might not be able to lift your shirt and impress your friends with your wicked battle scar, but you will have one badass story to tell.
Badass By The Numbers: