Getting Out: Sacrifice and Vision
You have 2 choices when you are stuck in a difficult situation. You can comply or you can challenge. One of the biggest aspects of getting unstuck from an awful situation is to first realize you are stuck in an awful situation. Then second, believe there is a way out. Whenever there is a choice to make, there is an easy one, and a difficult one. The easy choice tends to leads to short term comfort, allows procrastination and, inevitably, creates failure. The difficult one leads to success, but takes you through the mud. (Matthew 7:13) Anything worth doing in life is going to be a challenge. If you want to build muscle in your body, first, you tear it down by lifting weights. Muscles tear, which makes you sore after workouts, but then they heal. When the muscles heal, they get bigger, more defined and stronger. Same thing goes for your stage in life. If you want to make something of your life, it is going to take work, sacrifice, healing and repetition. If you don’t like where you are at, guess what? You can change it!
My dad grew up in poverty, hunger and crime. When he realized he was in a situation he did not like, he had a choice. He could choose to simply exist and become a statistic in that area, with the same people, doing the same things. Or he could choose to do the difficult thing and get outside of his comfort zone. I know my life is forever changed because my dad chose to do something different with his life. The direction may not be clear, but once you discover the purpose and vision for something better, you know you have to move. Complacency and being stagnant is no longer an option. You need to be a person of action. If you want to move and make progress, YOU have to move and make progress. We are not bystanders, we are participants.
Because of my dad’s financial, family and education situation, his best option to get out was to join the military. When my dad joined the military, the Vietnam War was happening. Troops were beginning to be pulled out, but soldiers were still being sent over to relieve the troops who had been so badly hurt. My dad’s choice to join the military must have been terrifying. Volunteering to be apart of a war where so many had died could not have been easy. But it was his out. His opportunity to learn, his opportunity to get better, his opportunity to be apart of something bigger than himself. He saw where he was and chose not to accept it. What are you choosing to accept in your life? Do you need to do something different about it?
When faced with a roadblock in life, we can stop, wait and hope it solves itself. Or we can get creative, go off road and find a way to get to the other side. You have the power! You have the choice! You can mope and wonder why life always seems to “happen” to you, or you can happen to life by changing your situation! The easy thing to do is stay put. It’s simple to tuck your tail between your legs and let your circumstances dictate how you live your life. But I ask you, what kind of life is that? Certainly not the one Jesus promised us when we choose life with Him (John 10:10). See where I am going with this? You can choose to have an awful life or you can choose to have a better life. The funny thing about is choice is that it is no one else’s but YOURS.
My dad changed his life forever by submitting to the military, and because of that he changed his family tree. My dad was supposed to be sent to Vietnam at the age of 18. He did his basic training in Louisiana and was then shipped to California. It was the last stop before Vietnam for many, many young men. Instead of being sent to Vietnam, my dad was plucked out of line and sent to Hawaii. During his time in Hawaii he drove a school bus, was a personal driver for military and newspaper personnel and eventually became a photographer for the newspaper. I can confidently say God plucked my dad out of line that day because there was a greater calling on his life. He may not have been able to achieve the calling had he not chosen to change his situation. He was not yet a believer in Christ, but his life had way more purpose than what he knew and believed about himself at that point. And from there, my dad found a life with Jesus, accepted his life calling into ministry and began a family.
It is not easy to sacrifice. Comfort is rare, or nonexistent, in the midst of sacrifice. Often physical and emotional pain comes along with it. But, we have the true Comforter in our lives. Our future is God’s plan, but our responsibility. Money is one of the things we often allow to dictate our lives, both having too much and too little. My wife and I have decided money will never be a hindrance to us, especially when it comes to the call of God on our lives. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but we are working to prepare ourselves right now for that purpose. And with the story I have heard about my dad’s life, how can I not treat money as a valuable resource? To see where he brought himself without a strong financial foundation, I feel it is my responsibility to build off of what he did.
I believe one of the main goals for every parent is to provide a better opportunity at success for your children than they had. In the third and final part of my writing on finances and my dad’s life, I am going to write about my purpose in life and with finances based off of what I have learned about my dad’s life. Even while I am sharing about myself, please know this story directly relates to you as well. No matter how you were brought up. You have a responsibility to build off of what your parents and grandparents have accomplished. Their ceiling has become your floor.