This week we've got a slightly unconventional post for Freely Written, but as you guys may have realised, this story of this blog is ever-evolving, so bear with me…
To life a well-rounded, full and adventurous life you have to be a (selective) sponge. We’re at our best when we take lessons and principles from all walks of life, and actively see patterns and trends in the not-so-obvious. I am on a continuous journey to build my life based on my relationship with God and principles from the Bible, but it would be inauthentic of me to pretend like it is my only source of inspiration, motivation and education. Instead, I take it all in, observing everything I find. The funny thing is people like to create this huge dichotomy between what’s in the Bible and what isn’t - and while there are some fundamental things that don’t align, a lot of qualities that drive some of the most successful and fulfilled people are present in the Bible.
My question is, are you tapping into it?
The first and last weekends of July were bookended by two incredible experiences. In between these two experiences was Hillsong Conference (which I will save for another post, simply amazing). July opened up with my friend Seun and I at the Formation world tour. Beyond the performances, it was truly an experience that gave me a good mental shake and re-calibrated my thoughts. Four weeks later, Seun also shared a film called ‘I am Not Your Guru’ with me, which she had heard of from one of her other friends (sidenote: it’s great to have friends who ‘get it’, remember, community is key). These experiences helped me to step fearlessly into August 1 with a refreshed sense of faith and focus to pursue what I believe is part of my life's calling. I hope that by the end of this post you will take the challenge to live life a little bit more intentionally and consciously... it is so worth it.
Be consistent in the pursuit of your end goal
At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. - Galatians 6:9
At various points during her show, Beyonce kept talking about how she had dreamed of and wanted these experiences since she was a young girl. It was moving to see someone who was genuinely living their life to the full, and maximising the passions and talents that life had given them. What struck me the most was that this moment had been 25 plus years in the making. From being in various bands which changed name and bandmates frequently, to facing failure and rejection, she continued to work hard, be consistent and trust that the little she had been given would grow into it’s full form. It’s easy to look at people at the top of their game, compare and become impatient to reach that level in our own lives, but we need to remember that we are seeing are the fruits of decades of effort coming to bloom, in due season.
It is the exact same thing with Colour Conference which happened in April. I looked around Wembley arena, filled to the brim with 3,000 women, some who had taken time off work and others who had flown from other parts of Europe to London to encounter God. Colour is genuinely a life changing experience and the many girls who came with us for the first time this year shared the same sentiment. That was only the Europe Conference, during the surrounding weeks thousands of women also gathered in Cape Town, Sydney and New York City for their own installments of Colour. It's mind-blowing when you think about this: How do you encourage people to make extra time and internationally to experience Jesus when they could box him into Sunday Service alone? It takes time (Colour celebrated it's 20th anniversary this year), consistency, commitment and holding onto the belief that you are working towards something ‘God-breathed’ as Bobbie would say.
Let me challenge you for a moment: in light of the decades they have spent being students of their craft and staying consistent even when things looked bleak, how do your years of work compare?
I don’t say this to make you feel bad, but to remind you that because it’s not happening in 6 months doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen. In a world where pursuing what really sets your soul alight seems to be a few clicks and a few thousand followers away, maintaining perspective is essential. Stay the path.
Spend time this morning reminding yourself of your long-term vision. Even if it's not coming to fruition now, it will if you're patient
— AB (@abxola) August 2, 2016
Wake up, dig deeper
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.- Galatians 6 (MSG)
If you haven’t heard of Tony Robbins yet, look him up. I had heard of him, but previously rolled my eyes at anyone who’s career involved being a ‘motivational speaker’. I looked at it like some sort of con, thinking, 'if you were really able to transform people, why are we all not transformed by now?'. But over the last year or so I've seen that sometimes it doesn't work because a lot of us are not awake. We are either intentionally or unintentionally unaware of the mental barriers that hold us back. That is why no matter how many inspirational books, videos or podcasts you digest, sometimes you’ll never make progress if your mind isn’t right.
In the new documentary ‘I Am Not Your Guru’, Netflix follows Tony on his 5-day transformation programme, Date with Destiny. With a larger-than-life demeanour he spends time energising around 2,500 attendees through interactive activities, musical sets and also being very, very direct with them. He sometimes raises his voice and uses strong language to cut through the veneers and stories that we tend to tell ourselves to cushion the blow of facing reality. While I may not recommend all of his tactics, the outcome was paramount:
He awakened people to their real selves.
He awakened them by helping them to wade through the mental, emotional and spiritual dirt to reveal something truly amazing.
For the most part, many of us tend to live life on the surface. Sometimes it's easier and less painful, but the price you pay for staying in your comfort zone is an easy, numb and normal life. In moments of solitude and reflection there is something that plays on our minds, reminding ourselves that there is more out there. I believe part of that tugging comes from the fact that many of us settle for life on the sidelines while daydreaming about the life we could have or living vicariously through others. I’m not talking about material possessions, I’m talking about using the skills, tools and passions that have been given to you since the day we set foot on earth. I’m talking about using it all - your pleasures as well as your pain to dive head-first into a fuller, more meaningful life.
For example, at one point in the documentary Tony asks a 19-year-old girl why she had paid good money to attend his programme if all she wanted to do was lose weight. After a brief period of questioning, it became clear that her constant need for self-improvement came from her stifled relationship with her drug-addicted father. In life, we all have That Thing (or most probably, MANY things) that has shaped seemingly unrelated habits and decisions, whether we realise it or not.
Those things become barriers to relationships with ourselves, with others and ultimately with God. And once those relationships wither, so does the rest of our life.
The truth is, until we boldly face the good, the bad and the ugly in our minds head-on we cannot cross the threshold between where we are stuck at and where we need to be. That is what being conscious is all about.
Without ruining the film too much for you, our 19-year-old friend is encouraged to face her issue directly by speaking to her father and blaming him for the impact he had on her. This ‘blaming’ took the form of an honest conversation where she addressed the pain that he caused, but also acknowledged and thanked him, because without it, she wouldn’t have developed the resilient spirit that she had. This was a recurring theme for all who took part in a Date with Destiny; they were owning and exploring real issues that they had buried deep. These issues caused pain, but from this pain they drew great strength. As you can imagine there were a lot of tears from both men and women, including Tony - because he could relate. Living with an abusive mother to a myriad of other things only made him stronger, more agile and more resilient. It’s the exact same for you, if you let it.
"I've gone to the darkest, scariest places and because I have, I can lift people to the highest places" - @TonyRobbins
— AB (@abxola) August 1, 2016
Finally, the choice is yours...
I hope you see that this is more than a set of lofty ideals that can’t be actualised. These are practical, and if I may, Biblically rooted principles for getting your mind (and as a result, your life) right. Until we are able to break down the thick barriers that we’ve accumulated through hurt, childhood experiences, disappointment and whatever else, we will always live life from the sidelines.
And guys, we have a choice. The choice to stretch, to explore, or keep going through life at the surface level, pretending this is enough
— AB (@abxola) August 1, 2016
I say this not as someone who’s mastered it all, but as someone who is at a very early stage of realising how impactful this perspective really is.
I say this as someone doesn't believe that any of us are put on earth to recoil and live a less-than life because the risk seems to great.
I say this because I firmly believe that even when you take the smallest step into a true journey of self-discovery it will be the best decision you can ever make.
'At any moment, the decision you make can change the course of your life forever' - Tony Robbins
Thanks for reading, please let me know in the comments if this post helped you in some way! And whether you’d like to see more of these types of posts in the near future, or find our more about how I keep my mind on track (which is no easy feat....)