An open letter to Gabby Douglas, and all those whose dreams have gone astray, or turned a corner you never expected, or have simply passed their time.

An open letter to Gabby Douglas, and all those whose dreams have gone astray, or turned a corner you never expected, or have simply passed their time:
Being at the top, receiving the attention and praise that comes with fame or adulation can become very addicting. Without your realization, it goes from simply a goal to work for to being a must-have, your only source of joy.

It hurts when you feel the rug pulled out from under you, when someone else sits on the throne, worshiped by the media and social chat groups, or even your own friends and community.

You see the problem when I say it that way, don’t you?

Those of us who are still working towards our dreams, who most likely will never be famous or followed by many, may have a shorter path to wisdom:
being on top here on earth never brings the satisfaction it promises, brings nothing that lasts.

Gabby, Olympic gold isn’t really the pinnacle of your life. Not really what you were created for, after all. But it can be a means to an end.

When I wonder what to do or I flounder, I go back to the book of wisdom. My vision gets realigned. Eternal vision puts everything into focus. I realize it isn’t about me and what I achieve, how hard I work or how I am received by others. And when I need approval, all I need to do is look up for a smile.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Gal 5: 22-23, 25-26 MSG

Go for eternal gold. It’s the only one that thieves can’t steal, doesn’t get lost and you won’t leave behind when you leave this world.

gymnast

Gabby, the girl in this photo was inspired by you in the London Olympics. The number of young girls you have motivated in gymnastics is probably amazing.

But what will be more amazing will be the fruit of how you live your life from now on, the number of people you inspire to seek Jesus, to run with all their might into the arms of the only one who can really catch them.

Where are you heading?

Have you listed your goals for this year? Ways you want to improve? For many of us, this past year was tough. Challenges. Trials. Pain. Grief. And some of you are struggling right now. I always told my children when hard or frustrating things happened that trials build character. One of my daughters, who has had a particularly rough couple of years, asked, “Don’t I have enough character yet?” I know how she feels. For years, I struggled to try harder, live better, do more. My efforts mostly took me down a lot of dead ends. I’ve found the key to really living is not in how hard I work, but in who I am walking with. What I trust. How I am willing to open my heart.

Is 40 27-28 Santa Cruz by Jack H Thompson
Galapagos Islands

I can’t explain the hard stuff, but I think God wants far more for us than we seek. Our eyes looking way higher than our glances take us.

Is 40 25-26 Miami at night by Jack H Thompson
by Jack H Thompson

There is so much more life available with God than we ever reach out for. How do we go from trying hard to trusting much and receiving more?

My path changed when I began to listen to — really hear — the voice telling me I am loved.

Then I learned what we tirelessly teach our little ones – to say thank you.  Giving thanks for what I have, seeing the blessing, however tiny, puts a new lens on my day.

Maui beauty by Jack H Thompson
Maui beauty
Cloud forest fern, Ecuador,  Jack H Thompson
Cloud forest fern, Ecuador
bee in flower, Isabella, Galapagos
bee in flower, Isabella, Galapagos

And the gratitude heart leads me to trust. My hard edges melt when I find the thanksgiving places.

Is 40 29 w bird in flight by Jack H Thompson
Soaring by Jack H Thompson

Then I can relax into hands far stronger than mine, and more loving than any earthly hands could ever be.

Is40 30 Dolphins Jack H Thompson
Dolphin pair by Jack H Thompson

What are you aiming for this year?