Do you ever wish you could remember truth in the middle of a hard circumstance? That somehow you could recall what you know for sure in the midst of a misunderstanding, painful experience, or emotional discussion? So many times what we know in our head doesn’t translate to our heart in the heat of a moment or over a prolonged battle. Believe me, I get it.
Sometimes it feels as if there’s a veritable war going on in my body, between my head and my heart. The truth is sometimes my tender heart wins out much longer, or more often, than I’d like. Resentment, hurt, anger, frustration and the same old line my boys use: “it’s not fair!” reverberate in my mind. So many things aren’t.
A big part of living free is learning to align our expectations with reality, and let go of what we can’t control. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, we all know it’s not so much. Nearly impossible might be a more fitting description in the moment. I’ve learned it’s for times like these, it’s good to have a list of things I know for sure. Things I can remember when my head and my heart won’t agree.
Here are five things I know for sure, right now:
1. Good friends are essential to a good life. They say friendships come into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime. One really good thing about getting older is you get better at differentiating between them, accepting who fits where, and letting go of the ones that don’t fit anymore at all. Good friends see you, know you and choose to find the best in you. They pick you up when you fall; they remind you who you are when you forget; they love you when you’re unloveable, and they help you build a good life.
2. Grit rules. What’s the greatest predictor of success? You might guess education, experience, connections or luck and you’d be wrong. The answer is good old fashioned grit. Dreams take work. In the middle of the hard is where you find your strength. It’s where you build perseverance, commitment, determination and endurance. Grit is defined as unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. Can you imagine unyielding courage? That doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. That you don’t doubt. That you aren’t necessarily sure you’ll succeed. Yet you persevere anyway. Regardless the outcome, grit is brave. It is bold. And it’s incredibly beautiful.
3. Words matter. No matter how many good things a hundred people might say about you, your idea, your passion or your life, you will focus on the one who hates it. True? Six tiny words began a radical transformation of the walls around my heart: “Those people spoke death over you.” Some people can’t be pleased. Some people don’t even know what they do. You must teach them by your life. With our words, we have the power to speak life or death. Words matter: Speak life.
4. Exercise is therapy. Almost twenty years ago I started running because I didn’t know what else to do. I was lost. Hopeless. Desperate for a different life. I wasn’t a runner, not even close. But every night I slept in my workout clothes, set my alarm, got up before the sun rose, and I ran. I ran out the questions and the wonderings, the wrongs and the hurts. I ran through the possibilities, the opportunities, and the what ifs and the coulds. I ran for races and causes and medals and glory, I didn’t realize every mile was writing my story. Twenty years later I still run. Not because I love it, but because I love who I am when I’m through. A fighter. A conqueror. A dreamer. A doer. When in doubt, run/walk it out.
5. Struggle builds strength. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. Whether building fitness or strength or achieving a goal, every struggle builds the strength you will need to succeed tomorrow. In marathon training you learn there are difficult miles. Miles you want to give up, give in or lay down on the side of the road and die. You can do that. Or you can dig in, and let it teach you how to be strong.
Every single year I wonder what I know for sure anymore. I realize though I don’t get to control a lot of things in this life, I can control my attitude to it. People change, ideas evolve, and the more stories I hear, the less I think I know. Challenges come to test whether I will believe what I know in my head, in the deep places in my heart. Some moments prove more difficult than others. Some situations take longer to remember the truth. But, eventually, truth always prevails.
No matter what trials arise, or what people come and go throughout your life, there will always be a few things you can know for sure. Like: Good friends build a good life; unyielding courage wins whatever the outcome; words matter, exercise is therapy, and struggle builds an otherwise impossible strength. This world is full of beautiful things, incredible people, and endless opportunities to do something awesome with your life. Remember what you know. And when you forget, help yourself remember again.
What do you know for sure?