At this moment, I am alone outside, watching the sunrise over the ocean on the north shore of Oahu. A quick calculation reveals that I have personally experienced more than 18,000 dawns in my life. Of course, most of them occurred without my presence! Nonetheless, I have "gotten up and gotten started" more than 18,000 times.
Many of those mornings have been spectacular. Just like you, I know what it is like to wake up full of joy and gratitude. I remember my first morning as a husband and my first new day as a father. It was only five years ago that I sat in my living room and watched the "Good Morning America" team on ABC reveal The Traveler's Gift to the world. I have awakened with my whole family in one bed, giggling at me as I snored. I could go on, but you understand my point: personally and professionally, I have had some awesome mornings.
Also lurking in my memory are some days that did not begin well. And many of those days very quickly got worse. The mornings after my parents died were tough. Waking up under a pier or in a stranger's garage is not fun. Three and a half years of rejection by 51 publishers was a discouraging start for The Traveler's Gift. Just like you, I know what it is like to wake up full of doubt and fear, achingly despondent and demoralized.
I have "begun again" the day after a hurricane destroyed our house. I have gotten out of bed the day after my gas and electricity were cut off because I couldn't pay the bill. I have started mornings hungry because I didn't catch anything and couldn't quite bring myself to steal. People have broken promises, business plans failed … I could go on, but you understand my point: personally and professionally, I have had some wretched mornings.
Yet, one tiny string of thoughts has kept me calm enough to function even during the worst of times. First, the acknowledgment that tough times are normal seems to help. Tough times are nothing new and they aren't exclusive to one person or group of people. We are all in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis.
In addition, I have discovered proof of hope that has consistently lifted my heart, mind, and spirit to a point of forward motion. Very simply, it is this:
- Even in the worst of times, I must remember that I am still breathing.
- If I am still breathing, that means that I am still here.
- If I am still here, that means that I have not completed what I was put here to do.
- If I have not completed what I was put here to do, that means that my very purpose has not been fulfilled.
- If my very purpose has not been fulfilled, that means that the most important part of my life has yet to be lived.
- If the most important part of my life has yet to be lived, then it doesn't really matter how old I am or how broke I am, how long I've tried or how depressed I might be … Here, at last, is proof that the best part of my life is ahead of me! Without a doubt, there is more laughter to come, more success in my future, more children to teach, more friends to influence. There is more.
There is more … and the promise is proven by the simple fact that I am still breathing. I am still here.
Of course, I must confess that my greatest aggravation with God is that He never seems to be under any obligation to tell me what He is doing in my life. We will talk more at some point about the purpose and benefits of tough times. For now, no matter what you are experiencing, it is enough to take a deep breath and remember: