“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Don’t stop it’ll soon be here…”

There is an amazing saying that i have always enjoyed that i only realized a few years ago when i really started exploring Christianity the Gospel of Matthew has a very different view “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I have always enjoyed the sentiment but have never really been able to identify with it. I have always had the mindset of the Gospel of Fleetwood Mac quoted in the title.

Personally i always have one foot in the future, not like some weird episode of Stargate SG1, but i am always thinking “what’s next?”. This mindset manifests itself in a multitude of ways, positively, i am always so pumped about upcoming holidays, events, movies, album releases etc but negatively i can often be wracked with worry about an upcoming meeting so much so that nothing else will be able to occupy my mind.

Lets break this down into 2 categories, a wise man once told me that there is nothing wrong with dreaming/looking ahead but there are 2 types of dreaming, Helpful Dreaming and Unhelpful Dreaming. The first tends to be more positive, looking forward to imminent ventures, excitement of looking forward to seeing you Spouse/Kids/Parents/Cats/Dogs face on Christmas morning when they open that present you have been thinking about for months. The latter, while positive intentions are meant in the first instance tend to end up fairly negative, Spending hours trawling through Travel supermarket looking for that dream holiday that you cant afford, wasting hours of your life thinking if i won the lottery i would _________ (fill in the blank, but don’t spend too much time otherwise you are playing right into the negativity that i am talking about!) and while these are all fun things at the time; what happens when the dream doesn’t match the reality, what are we left with?  resentment that we are not where we want to be, disappointment and in some cases a massive credit card bill for where we have tried to achieve these unreachable dreams.

So how do we balance the wisdom of both not worrying about the future and looking forward to things that are forthcoming? oh how i wish i could give a simple answer to this question, the honest truth is i don’t really know but here are some things that really help me. I try at all things to be reliant on God, i think the quicker we realize that we cant do everything our selves the easier the journey of life will be (that’s my Christian slot over). Look forward to the positive and plan for the negative, i find that there is a massive difference between worrying about the future and strategically planning for it, here is what i mean by this; when there is a situation that you would normally worry about there is no point throwing yourself a pitty party of 1 and eating worry and fear with your Moroccan salsa dip! if something is bothering you do something about it, break it down into smaller steps to deal with what is going on then you are at least attempting to breakdown what ever mountain it is your facing. Here is a great quote that i think really inspires but also relieves pressure on this matter  “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Micheal Jordan. When we try to sort something out we don’t know what will happen, but if we don’t try we certainly know what will happen and the result will be your still in exactly the same position as you were when you started.

Great now the horrible negative stuff is out of the way here is my more positive advice, really go all out on looking forward to things that you should be excited about, don’t let the negative things going on rob you of the joy of the positives you have to look forward to. Be childlike in your excitement, it is a lot more fun than being reserved and adult about things. Here is an example from my life recently; we have had an absolute rust bucket of a car for the last year and a half, it was nearly as old as i am and it was certainly as slow as i am, so when we bought a car off a friend of ours i felt so excited going to see it but i had a thought of “Oh i need to look like a serious buyer, i don’t want to give too much away or he’ll try and mug me off” and other similar thoughts but i chose not to listen to those and i turned up to the viewing like a kid that had been given sugar for the first time ever, i was buzzing and i didn’t suppress this feeling and i can tell you it felt 100% better than if i just kept a straight face, kicked the tires a  few times and tried to low ball him on the price. I was probably the most excited anyone has ever been about a 2001 Ford Focus with a few bumps and scrapes. The morale of this tale is; let yourself feel excitement, don’t let other things weigh you down. In this moment while i was checking out the car like a 9 year old at Disney World i had things going on in my life; a massive credit card bill, worries about cost of tax and insurance, i had a sub par day at work and my team suffered because of me, my wife was going through some junk of her own but choosing to allow myself to feel excitement rather than getting crushed under the weight of negativity helped me look up and see a way forward and i had fun! who doesn’t like fun?!?!.

So what i have tried to say in all this rambling is really look forward to the future with whole hearted excitement and don’t worry about it plan for it.

“When you try your best but you don’t succeed…”

Say what you like about Coldplay but i think Chris Martin is one of the be lyricists of the last 20 years.

Their songs may often be depressing and melodically predictable but the words that they write make you think, hence the title of this post. So this line has really got me thinking over the last few weeks as i have been going through some things.

I was always told when growing up “all you have to do is your best and it will all be OK” which at the time i found comforting but now later on in life it has got me thinking that maybe all i have to give isn’t good enough in a lot of areas. I have always been competitive so it is a harsh realization that the best i can give sometimes isn’t enough, so what am i supposed to do when i literally cant give any more, when there is no way i can improve or when my best just simply isn’t what someone is looking for.

I have always been very happy that i can turn my hands to most things (with the exception of DIY, ive had enough banged fingers and bent screws to accept I will never be a master DIY-er) but recently i have been pondering “have i been wasting my time on lots of things when i should have been focusing on getting really good at one thing.” From a very young age i have been involved in a number of things which was always amazing; Football, Ice Hockey, Swimming, Karate, Tug of War, You name it i have probably given it a go at some stage of my life. The thing is I have always craved diversity, not change i hate change, i have always enjoyed the initial honeymoon period of learning/doing something new but this craving has meant that i was always the second best, runner up or not quite good enough to make the team.

Recently in the ministry area that i feel most passionate about, Worship, i was told that i need to take some time off and develop musically and all the feeling from being a young footballer, fighter or pupil came flooding back and i felt something that i haven’t in years, that i have tried focusing on so many things that the thing that i love the most and am most passionate about has suffered and i have become ‘not good enough’. As an aside there has been no communication from the amazing leaders that oversee me that I’m ‘not good enough’ they have been nothing but loving and are just doing what is best for this area and i totally agree with the decision, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Let’s put this into a setting that make sense to me…. Rocky III. My life sometimes feel like Rocky III is playing on loop over and over again. Here’s is what i mean, Just like the Italian Stallion i have points in my life where i feel that i am the greatest at what I’m doing, Just like Balboa when he’s ‘The Champ’ posing for camera’s, getting his face on cereal boxes and beating the crap out of Hulk Hogan, but for me its i made a great proposal at work, the Worship set i lead at the weekend went amazing because i didn’t hit any bum notes or i beat the crap out of Hulk Hogan (That last one may be a lie) but just like in the movie something knocks me back, thankfully its not Mr.T’s ferocious left hook. The things that have knocked me back is receiving brutal feedback or making a stupid mistake at work and all that i felt days or sometimes even hours before comes crashing down in one swift knock out punch of ‘your not good enough’.

Now unfortunately i don’t have Apollo Creed to wear USA flag shorts and sing James Brown to help me through a montage to get better and suddenly be Tom 2.0 and be a complete bad ass, like in Rocky III. I’m left with the same feeling of I’ll just have to find something else to be good at and the cycle starts over again but i don’t think i have ever beaten my ‘Clubber Lang’, it always seems that I’m stuck in that horrible place of being face down on the canvass wondering whats going on.

This time feels different though *Cue the 80’s montage music* because i have see the pitfalls that have beat me before, Comparison, Self Pity, Filling my time with a new venture. I have never been so passionate about anything as i have about this area, I having an inner yearning screaming “This is what you were made to do!”.

So how do i plan to succeed in something where I’m currently giving it my all and its not enough?

“if you’re willing to go through all the battling you got to go through to get where you want to get, who’s got the right to stop you?” – Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

What I’m trying to say by quoting these 2 amazing theologians is that i know this is something I’m called to do and know that its not going to be easy but i will choose to keep going even through the ups and downs.

“Just have a little Patience….”

Oh how i wish that this lyric was as easy to live out as it is to listen to! This is possibly my favorite Take That song, I love the way it builds, the subtle yet powerful harmonies, that unearthly note that Gary hits in the chorus, but the whole theme of the song is something that I personally struggle with.

For as long as I can remember I have hated waiting for anything, I’ve hated waiting for food to be cooked, i hated waiting to find out what the black smoke was in Lost, i even hated waiting for this page to load so i could start writing.  I would say that i have a TV, Movie or Music quote for every situation in my life which i have always viewed as a great thing and I still do to some degree, but i wonder if having pop culture and american teen flicks ingrained into my subconscious is a mixed blessing. While i love that i can drop a well timed punchline taken from Friends or Parks and Rec, i find it hard to understand that everything is not easy as it seems on TV and that things take effort and hard work.

Whilst growing up and still to this day my favorite movie was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this movie is a great mix of whitty comedy, genius innuendo’s and silly teenage jokes, but throughout the movie everything works out for the hero ‘Ferris Bueller’ he gets to drive nice cars, eat in fancy restaurants and  sing The Beatles while a top a parade float, it just comes together for him so easily and that is how i thought life would be for me, just everything would work out and be easy.

Holding this type of character at hero status in my life could be why I hate doing things twice to make sure its right or the reason i hate waiting for things because the picture i am constantly given is that things in life will come easy. Now don’t get me wrong i would much rather watch Matthew Brodderick mess about on his day off than watch some dude read through his grammar corrections at his desk and creating spreadsheets but the point I’m trying to make is that I think what we watch shapes who we are more than we think.

For a very long time i based my internal moral code and philosophy on what TV and Movies had taught me, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while you might miss it”, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”, “Life aint about how hard you can hit, its about how hard you can get hit and keep going” these are all things that still to this day are ingrained in me, that is not all bad because there are some amazingly inspirational quotes out there but I didn’t realise how much these thing shaped me. It made me ask myself “what else has been shaping me?”

So what I’m rabbling on about here is that I never thought of my submersion into amazing movies and hilarious TV having any sort of negative effect on me but I’m slowly realising why I behave the way I do and think this entrenchment in media could be part of it.

Bottom line, I’m not going to stop watching movies and TV but I will be looking at this stuff through a different lense of what reality is like and not let my mind run away with me like I previously have.