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In the Midst of Life’s Realities - the Good and the Bad - What Keeps Me Going?
Tuesday, June 27, 2023 by Dr James H Dotson Jr

As I continue my journey through life, I have ups and downs, successes and failures, experiences that are good and experiences that are bad. Sometimes life goes the way I’d like it to go, and sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes, stuff happens that saps my vigor and leaves me questioning the value of life. 

Nevertheless, when I’m asked “How are you?”, 9 times out of 10 my response is “Blessed!” Here’s what’s at the core of my journey through life—the why that keeps me going “one day at a time”.

Gratitude

There are most certainly “negatives” in my life. I have a brain tumor, I have lost vision in my left eye due to radiotherapy for that tumor, and I have also lost one kidney due to cancer. While there are most certainly negatives in my life, there are also most certainly positives in my life. I’ve come through two brain surgeries, I still have vision in my right eye, and I still have one kidney that works. 

I could say more about the negatives and the positives in my life—past and present—but suffice it to say that I have a choice where I place my focus. Although I do not at all ignore the negatives in my life, I choose to focus on the positives. I am keen to notice how I am blessed and for what and for whom I am thankful.

Daily, I seek to live with an attitude of gratitude.  

Realism

The human condition is a mixture of good and bad—that’s a fact. Therefore, I don’t expect my journey through life to be like running through a field of tulips. 

If I expected life to be all good all the time, I’d be continually disappointed, because that’s not reality. If I expected life to be all bad all the time, I’d be continually downcast and blind to the blessings that have come and are coming my way. I do neither.

Instead, I cultivate a mindset of realistic expectations. I actively and proactively rejoice with the positives, while constructively contending with the negatives. 

Faith

Jesus Christ invites me to put my trust in him on my journey through life and promises that if I do so all things will work together for my good. I believe him and have chosen to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I surrender my life to him. For me, that’s more than head knowledge. It’s an ongoing relationship—as with a best friend—going through life together. 

  • “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9, ESV
  • “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9, ESV
  • “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5, ESV
  • “But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” (Luke 18:27, ESV
  • “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33, ESV
  • “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV

Each day on my journey through this life, I walk by faith with my Lord, my Savior, and my Friend Jesus Christ.

Hope

The Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-19), wrote these words in a letter to a congregation of believers during the early history of the Christian church after Christ’s ascension to Heaven after his crucifixion and resurrection: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, ESV

If my hope for the future is in this life only, then I totally agree with Paul that I am “… most to be pitied.”  But my hope is not based in this life only. My hope is anchored in a new life to come: a new Heaven, a new Earth, and a new me to be—immortal and incorruptible—at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

  • “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2–3, ESV
  • “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5, ESV
  • “I tell you this, …: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”” (1 Corinthians 15:50–55, ESV

God is preparing a better future for me and that gives me hope to keep on keeping on. 

Opportunity

Until then, I must continue my journey in this life. But here’s the reality. I’m imperfect—I make mistakes, I mess up, I’ve got blind spots, sometimes I fail, and from time to time I miss blessings and mess up or sabotage great opportunities. 

Knowing this to be the case, I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunities to learn, grow, and change.

When I make a mistake, I try to learn from my mistake—lessons learned—so I don’t continue to walk the wrong way. When I’m facing a tough situation or challenge, like being an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse or living with a tumor in my brain, I try to learn as much as I can about it, oftentimes getting professional help, so that I may make the most of that situation or challenge as I continue my journey through life.

So, rather than allowing challenges to define me or imprison me, I try to live to my full potential no matter what I’m dealing with in my life. 

Purpose

And part of what energizes that motivation within me is my conviction that I’m here for a reason (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-7; Ephesians 2:10).

I believe that my life has a purpose. My vision is to fulfill that purpose—to live in such a way that it brings glory to God and benefit to others.

As long as I have breath, I endeavor to live on purpose during my journey through life here on this Earth.

Friends

And last, but by no means least, my friends are key to me continuing my journey through life. Indeed, where would I be without friends? When I’m successful, they rejoice with me. When I fail, they encourage me. When I need advice, they counsel me. When I’m wrong, they confront me and hold me accountable. When I’m down and out, they help me to get back up on my feet. When I’m facing a tough situation or challenge, they support me. 

And from time to time, we just get together to enjoy time with one another. 

Among my friends, I have a core group of three brothers I meet with weekly. We study the word of God together. We share updates on what’s going on in our lives. We share praise reports (stuff we’re thankful for). We share prayer requests (stuff we need help with). And we pray for each other. Their friendship is invaluable. I remember so well how both of them came from two different states to be present with me and lend a helping hand during my last brain surgery. I wouldn’t want to do life without these two God-honoring, Holy Spirit-filled, down-to-earth brothers.

Are we co-dependent? No, just three good friends supporting each other on our individual journeys through life—in both the good times and the bad times. 

Call to Action

Being thankful. Having realistic expectations. Surrendering my life in faith to Jesus Christ. Hoping for a better future at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Seizing opportunities to learn, grow, and change, including reaching out for help when I need it. Living on purpose. Connecting with friends. This is what keeps me going amidst the realities of life—both the good and the bad. 

Try it. You may find this too helps you to keep going on your journey through life.

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Comments

The Clutter Doc From Metropolitan DC At 7/18/2023 9:20:34 PM

Ditto, Dr Dotson. Those realities of life are true in my life too. I would add Music too!

Reply by: Training for Transformation, Inc.

Ah, yes!!! Music is a big part of my journey through life. Thanks for commenting.

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