Have you ever heard the saying that “it is best to run your own race instead of trying to run alongside other people”? This quote speaks to the condition of so many people in our society who get distracted with the things of the world instead of activating and acting on the many gifts that are present within themselves. When you are consumed with comparing yourself to other people, it could render you unproductive with your personal goals and visions. Also, lack of focus on your personal purpose could cause you to feel unqualified to accomplish what God set out for you to do in this lifetime.
There are many distractions that get in the way of people acting on their visions. For example, overconsumption of social media can cause you to compare yourself to other people and result in you feeling that your life is lacking in many areas. On the other hand, some people become preoccupied with the different obstacles that might arise while they are working toward acting on their vision. Some people stand in their own way when doubt, fear and anxiety creep in. These personal obstacles could cause you to question your abilities and knock you completely off your road to success.
I believe we are called to challenge both worldly and internal distractions by establishing tunnel vision. Merriam Webster Dictionary provides different definitions for the term tunnel vision. Definitions include the following:
“1. Constriction of the visual field resulting in loss of peripheral vision.”
“2. A condition in which you can see things that are straight ahead of you but not to the side.”
“3. A tendency to think only about one thing and to ignore everything else.”
In some definitions that were shared, I found tunnel vision to have negative connotations. However, I am opting to re-adopt this term in a more positive way. God is calling us to circle in on our visions. To follow the guided track that has been laid in front of us, we must eliminate the interferences and obstacles that are taking us off course. Proverbs 4:25 states, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” God wants us to focus on the things he has for us. He wants us to experience the joy of fulfilling our purpose and vision here on earth.
Below are ways writing could be used to support you in creating tunnel vision.
1.Write down your barriers and the things that sidetrack you. Self reflection and awareness are essential if you are going to get back on track with your vision. During this stage, I would encourage you to write down all the things that might be slowing you down. Honesty is essential in this part of the process, because if you are not able to identify behaviors that need to change then you might continue down a path of unproductivity. The bible says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22). God wants us to speak openly about our shortcomings so that He can work to deliver us from these areas.
2. Write prayers in support of eliminating barriers. 1 John 5: 14-15 reminds us “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” Writing down specific and straight forward prayers that address the areas where you might need support from God could positively impact your progress. This intentional act means that you are ready to re-stablish your focus. God desires for us to lean on Him, but we are called to take the initial step of asking for His help.
3. Step out in obedience and make a change. Deuteronomy 28:1 provides insight into the importance of obedience and discipline. The verse states that we should, “Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (Deuteronomy 28:1). You might find that during this stage you feel a tug to deactivate your social media accounts or distance yourself from certain people who are distractions from your progress.
If you are going to create momentum and establish tunnel vision some form of action step must be taken.
The below song was shared in a Christian women’s group of which I am a member. I heard the song and it pulled on my heartstrings. I felt compelled to include it with this post. Listen to the song and receive its words.
In recent days, I have observed an increase in discussions centered on the need for people to activate their visions, and the importance of beginning to establish goals for 2020 since the end of 2019 is rapidly approaching. While engaging in different forums focused on these topics, my thoughts were instantly shifted to reflect more so on what God has to say about my specific future goals. As a result of my reflections, I decided to do a little bit of research related to the idea of goals and its discussion within the bible.
Upon my initial research, I observed that within the bible ‘goals’ are labeled as ‘vision/visions’. According to the dictionary, "Vision is the act or power of imagination. A mode of seeing or conceiving" (Merriam Webster). Additionally, the word vision is used in more than 70 bible verses, and this frequent use of the word ‘vision’ speaks directly to God wanting us to understand the importance of establishing visions or goals while we still have the capacity to do so. One of the most popular bible chapters that articulates the importance of vision is Habakkuk chapter 2. Verses two and three in this chapter state, “And the Lord answered me: 'Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay'” (Habakkuk 2:2-3). God calls us to be people of vision. Our ability to visualize all the fruitful things we desire in our lives, could translate to the manifestation of these things. But as the above-mentioned bible verse communicates, we must stand in expectation and be firm in our faith by taking the action step of writing our visions.
Writing your visions and hopes for your future is not a complicated task, especially when it is under the direction of God. There are two initial steps you would need to take if you are ready to establish a clear focus for 2020.
Pray- I understand that some readers might not know their purpose here on earth or might really struggle to determine next steps regarding career, wellness or lifestyle goals. On the other side, there are some people who have ideas related to visions for the future, but at the same time exhibit certain levels of insecurity, unsureness or even fear while trying to activate their vision. If you are someone who wants to have direction for the next phase of your life but do not know where to begin, I would offer the recommendation of taking it to God in prayer. The bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Your struggle with knowing what to do with your life is something that you should bring before God, because you were indeed created for a specific purpose. A bible verse that supports this idea is Jeremiah 1:5 where it reads, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5). I am sure that during your quiet and intentional prayer moments, ideas will be laid on your heart and you will gain some form of response related to your direction for 2020.
Believe and Write- Pick up your pen and write down your vision for 2020. Reflect on the different areas of your life you hope to improve and the positive experiences you hope to encounter in this upcoming year. Writing your vision is so important, because it provides you with something to reference when you might experience moments of frustration or even when you lose site of the vision. Also, on the other side writing your vision and referencing it periodically positions you to celebrate when things start to happen.
In previous years, I created a vision board at the start of the year. However, at the start of 2019 in addition to the vision board, I desired to do something different and a little more meaningful. As a result of numerous changes that had taken place in my life, I acknowledged that I needed to be more intentional in my approach of activating my vision for the year. In a Facebook group I frequented, I observed someone’s post about their success with an intentional goal planner, called Powersheets. After reading reviews and other testimonials related to Powersheets I opted to make the investment and use Powersheets as a resource to help me act on my 2019 goals. I must say that Powersheets was one of the best investments I have made in my adult life. Powersheets are created by Cultivate What Matters, which is a Christian based business dedicated to helping women achieve their goals. As a result of the Powersheets, I have met and engaged in biweekly skype calls with a small group of women from around the world who, like me, are dedicated to living out their true purposes in life. Additionally, Powersheets have helped me identify personal barriers keeping me from accomplishing goals, eliminated the belief that my vision for 2019 was too big, and activated action steps to accomplish my vision.
This year I have experienced different personal challenges, however, I continued to pray and remain grounded in my vision. Although there are a few things I am still standing in faith will come to pass before the end of the year, I have accomplished most of the things that I have envisioned for myself. But even with the things I am still praying about, I can say the ball has started rolling in the direction of progress and growth. I am thankful.
I share all of this with the goal of inspiring you to believe that your 2020 could be the year where your dreams come to reality. But you must take the necessary first step of writing your vision.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Over the past few weeks, I have been led to think about the intentionality of my words and as a result have zoned in on the types of situations that are generated as a result of my words. Growing up, I heard many religious figures quote the bible scripture of “death and life lying in the power of the tongue and those who have it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21). In this bible verse, it is written plainly about the repercussions of our words, but still I never truly understood or reflected on the true lesson being revealed in this section of the bible. I am very much aware of what I say to other people as I don’t want to put anyone down, and as an educator I am mindful of the words I speak or write to my students. However since I was so attentive or focused on the ways I communicate with other people, I did not take the time to reflect on the words I speak or write about myself.
As a result of my personal observations, I have re-read past journals in an effort to revisit specific things I have said about myself. This was an enlightening experience, because what I observed is that many of my ideas, whether good or bad, have become realities.
I can’t help, but in this moment, to think about all the miraculous events that could come to life if I coupled positive declarations about myself with intentional prayers to God. There are some people who rely on the encouragement and motivation of others in order to make upward strides in their lives, even though the bible offers constant reminders of what is promised to us if we acknowledge the power of our own words. I want to share a few biblical examples to support this point.
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear.” Speak and write positivity. When exercising your word power, write declarations that will build you up and inspire people who observe positive things come to pass in your life. Since I was in high school, I always asserted I would be a college professor. This goal of mine was something I would always write about in my journals and share with people who would ask me about my career goals. This goal was actualized when I gained my first adjunct position in 2010 and when I was later hired as a full-time faculty member in 2016. Despite the many obstacles that could have disrupted me from stepping into this dream, I still continued on to declare that I would have an impact in this profession. I believe that being an educator was something I have been called to do and my exercising of words promoted this dream becoming a reality.
Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” The way we use our words could bring about both physical and emotional healing. In times of despair or sickness we should use rejuvenating words to show we believe our circumstance will improve. Complaining about the hardships we are going through or continuing to demonstrate a lack of hope is not a good use of our words. There is a song by Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers, titled “Encourage Yourself”. The song says, “Sometimes you have to encourage yourself, sometimes you have to speak victory during the test. And no matter how you feel, speak the word and you will be healed.” This song has become an anthem for me as I have experienced a wide range of adverse challenges that have required self-encouragement. Use your words as a tool to change your circumstances.
James 1:22 “But be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves.” As previously stated, there are some people who rely on the encouragement and motivation of others when attempting to make upward strides in their lives. However, if we act on the words we write and stand in faith we could open many doors of opportunity for ourselves. There is a saying that calls us to “not just talk about it, but to also be about it.” Our words should ignite actions.
Writing our intentions and writing a prayer in support of our intentions could cause our ideas to come to fruition.
“Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.”
I have no problem with outwardly proclaiming myself as a Christian who writes and understands how my ability to write was bestowed upon me from God. I can also go on to admit that I did not always recognize writing as a tool that could be used to glorify God. However, in my current season of life, writing has helped me maintain focus on what is most important to me and this encompasses my spiritual development. Over the last year as I have worked to strengthen my spirituality, I observed a shift in my writing and feel I have been called to use my gift in more meaningful ways. This awareness has motivated me to expand my writing regiment from just including routine journal entries and personal writing projects to be more inclusive of prayer writing and worship centered pieces.
Writing worship pieces has helped me develop my craft in ways that I could have never imagined. It has opened me up to the idea that my relationship with God can be facilitated in innovative ways aside from verbal prayers. Below I will provide reasons why you might want to start creating worship pieces.
Creating worship pieces could be a dynamic mood shifter. - Writing worship pieces when you are not feeling at your best could instantly change your mood. If you are in the midst of a chaotic situation, using your pen to praise God in that exact moment could switch your attention from your circumstance. I travel with a small journal where I write prayers. On many occasions when I am not in the best of moods or feel frustrated, I opt to pull out my prayer journal and begin to worship God with my written words. This causes me to switch my attention from the negative things that might be happening around me to instead focus on God as the controller of my current situation.
Worship pieces provide a silent prayer option when you cannot prayer aloud. - Often people believe that to be received by God worship must be loud. But I have learned that worship does not always have to be completed in that fashion and writing too is a powerful form of worship. You might find yourself in a workshop, meeting, bookstore, etc. and feel led to begin worshipping. This could be a time when you open your journal and begin to write out your praises. Writing centered worship moments could be as equally heartfelt as verbal worship.
God sees your words as you write them. - As you are writing your worship piece, God’s spirit is present to fill you and guide the direction of your worship. You might be inspired to write a poem, song or other work that is guided by the intentions of the holy spirit. In these instances, God is receiving every word and accepting your purest form of praise.