Photo by Paul JarvisI wrote a few days ago about the need to face forward while running and in life, so that I will not miss the obstacles that are in my path. I mentioned how looking down or to the sides could cause me to stumble. And that is totally accurate. But, the past few time I ran, I realized something else. I am a big picture person. I am the type of person who sees what the end product should look like and then I make a plan to get there. I’m very good at that. What I’m not good at is planning for the problems that might come up. See, I have in my mind this perfect plan where everything will just go as I intend and nothing will go wrong. So I keep my eyes on that big picture, and I plow forward. However, one thing I’ve noticed as I run is that, if I look too far ahead on the path, I “forget” about the obstacles in front of me. I “forget” to pay attention, and the next thing I know, I’m tripping over an obstacle in my path. Or, if I’m looking too far ahead, I miss the hidden obstacles. You know, the ones you can’t see because they’re buried under the pine needles or leaves.

This morning, as I was running, I tripped on one of these hidden objects. There was a root that was buried under a bunch of pine needles, and I hit my foot on that root. I didn’t fall, but I almost did because I was so busy looking ahead, I forgot to pay attention to what was right in front of me. I tend to do this in life, as well. I get caught up in trying to reach my end goal, that I sometimes miss the things going on right in front of me. Perhaps my daughter has an issue, but I don’t notice because I’m so focused on following my “perfect plan.” Problems don’t fit into my perfect plan. Or maybe there is someone in need, but I don’t notice because I’m so focused on my goal. Or maybe it’s just that I fall into a behavior that is not in my best interests because I “forget” to pay attention and avoid it. Whatever it is, I am missing the obstacles, and I get tripped up. When that happens, I guarantee you, I don’t respond in the most gracious manner.

So, what can I do to make this better? For one thing, I can choose to pay attention to what is going on around me. Believe it or not, running has helped me to notice things more because I have become more focused. I am learning to focus on what is going on around me, while still moving toward my goal. Because I am succeeding in this area, I am gaining more confidence in succeeding in other ways. But I believe there are a few things I can do to make sure that my plans are reasonable, and that I am better able to see and avoid (or better deal with) the obstacles in my path.

 1) Ask God to help me make better plans.

James 1:5 says that if anyone lacks wisdom, then we just need to ask God, and He will give it generously and without making us feel bad about asking. I don’t know about you, but I can always use more wisdom. In addition, Proverbs 16 has a lot to say about the plans of a man. Verse 1 says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” Verse 3 states, “Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.” And, finally, verse 9 states, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” So, if I am giving my plans to God, and letting Him lead me, then I have a better chance of succeeding because He is all-powerful and best able to help me to succeed.

 2) Ask for counsel from friends or others who may be able to provide insight.

When I just go off on my own thoughts and make a plan, I often don’t look at all angles. I might see one or two, but sometimes I miss the most obvious ones because I am so busy looking at the big picture. So, getting the advice of others can help me to make a better plan. This is in line with biblical teaching as well. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” So, if I get good counsel, I have a better opportunity to succeed. This is really hard for me to do because I like to think I know what I’m doing, and I don’t like to bother people with my problems. But one of the things I have started to learn over the past few years is that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, that is often showing more wisdom than anything else I could do.

 3) Give myself grace when I fail.

I will never succeed all the time. There are going to be times that I fail. I have a tendency to give myself a hard time when I make a mistake, and I don’t let myself forget it. But I need to learn to give grace to myself when I fail, and instead of wallowing in my failure, I need to get up and try again. Failure isn’t permanent. I still have an option to get up and try again, and maybe the next time I will succeed.

So, the next time I make plans, I will ask for wisdom, help and not dwell on my failures. And maybe, just maybe, I will see success with defeating the obstacles in my path.

What about you? Do you find it easy to miss the obstacles right in front of you because they don’t fit into your plans? How do you avoid or deal with those obstacles? What has worked for you?

~Until Next Time,

 Karen Signature
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