“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” (Ernest Hemingway)
A young man, walking down a rural road at the start of a day. He walks with purpose, with a set aim in mind. He is a young man who walks 6 km to school every day. Mxolisi lives in a rural homestead and each morning, like thousands of other young people across southern Africa, takes a long journey to school. The inspirational thing about Mxolisi is that he does this every day because he is determined to have a better future. He wants to study medicine and his determination each day to get to school, despite the distance, despite rain and cold, is a measure of his determination to attain his career goals. He has set himself a goal and this goal helps him to push through on a daily basis.
Keep walking towards your goals
I am sure that many of you, like myself, set goals for 2014. These may have been goals for your personal growth, career growth, for your physical development, for your family or for your finances. How are you doing with pushing through to attain these? I would encourage you to revisit these goals, to consider what progress you have made and to think about where you have fallen short. Using the picture of Mxolisi, we can either sit down, tired, next to the road and give up on that goal, or we can pick ourselves up, remind ourselves of why we set that goal in the first place and then head towards that goal once again. I have had to do this with several elements of my life. These last two months have been very busy and my New Year’s resolution of going to gym on a regular basis has fallen by the wayside. I am now faced with a choice – I can either admit defeat and give up on that goal (this is the easier route) or I can grab hold of that goal and take one step in that direction by setting gym into my schedule and sticking to this.
For some of the students that I am working with the reality of school has started to set in. Where they started the year with hopes of excelling, the reality of subjects that they are grappling with is threatening to drag them down. Mathematics seems to be a particularly difficult subject and faced with daily battles to keep up and understand all that is covered that day, the natural response is to give up. Fear starts to take root – fear that they will fail, fear that they have made the wrong subject choices, fear that they will not amount to much, fear that the year will be a waste. The challenge with fear is that it is paralyzing. Fear kills action. Fear destroys hope. Fear makes us stand still or even turn back. Faced with fear we have one of two choices – we can run from the fear or we can face it and walk through it.
As I contemplated these challenges, I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses from 2 Timothy 1:7. This reads as follows: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” This verse clearly says that we are not meant to walk in fear. It declares that this spirit is not one that has to imprison us, disempower us or paralyze us. Instead, God promises that He has given us:
- A spirit of love: He loves us and cares for us because of who we are, and not because of what we do. He cares for us as a person and not because of how we are doing at maths. We are called to carry this love into the world around us – bringing hope instead of fear, joy instead of despair.
- Of power: Although we can try to create our own success, we are truly successful when we rest in His power and not our own. He has given us power to overcome – to overcome our challenges and hurdles – even mathematics. His power goes beyond our natural abilities. We need to be asking Him to give us power to reach our goals, to overcome our obstacles and to keep walking.
- Of a sound mind: Fear brings confusion and despair. God has promised us a sound mind. This means that not only can our thinking be clear, but that as the creator of the universe and the creator of each of us, He can give us the ability to reason and understand, even the complex things of mathematics and science.
Take one step
Our response to failure or to fear needs to be – keep walking. Mxolisi keeps walking towards his future. Will you do the same? As the quote by Hemingway indicates, life is about the journey. Pause, reflect, enjoy the journey, but make sure you are going somewhere by taking the next step.
What will you decide to do? All it takes is one step – one step towards a solution, one step towards asking for help, one step towards a preferable future. Will you take that one step? What will it be?