We are working on a series about leveraging the idea of circles to stay on track when life throws us a curve ball. This is our third installment and you can catch up pretty quickly by clicking through to our previous installments:

Week One: We started with a high level overview of what we are talking about when we talk about circles in life.

Week Two: Where we dive into the first half of the circle and identify the first steps to take when we find ourselves in one of those kairos or 'time stops' moments.

Here is a nice graphic of the concept that Noble used at The Chapel to walk us through the idea.

This week we are going to look at the second half of the circle. I was thinking over the past two weeks about circles and some of the stories you have shared through private messages. I started picturing all of us curled into a protective ball. I think this is what our initial reaction is when something big happens. We want to turn inward and protect. We want to keep everyone else out. That is not a bad thing. I think this is our first reaction, because we are created for that to be our first reaction. We need to turn inward in the beginning. We need to shrink life down into a manageable space and we need to make sure that we are safe.

The problem starts when we stay in that position. It is hard to move forward when you are curled up. So this week we are going to talk about how to get back on track and start moving forward.

(My mad drawing skillz are not improving…I had help…drawing stick people.
Did you see that ipad drawing of Morgan Freeman this week? I had help with this…with drawing stick people.)

Ok, moving on…

So, leveraging this idea of the circle – we are now ready to look at the second half – the part that swings us back up to the path we were on, or maybe even a better path. In the first half we asked, What is God trying to teach me? Now we are ready to ask, What is my response to what God wants me to learn? We figure this out through the steps of: Planning, Accountability, and Action. All of this is predicated on a belief that change can happen. We will talk about that more at then end.

We can see how important it is to go through the first steps of observing, reflecting, and discussing. Without a clear, and honest, view of the problem it will be impossible be create an effective plan. But once you have that, you need to commit to moving forward.

To move forward you need a:

Plan: In the planning phase we map out what we need to do differently. I love the Einstein quote, 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results'. Not having a plan is exactly that. When we find ourselves struggling with the same problem again and again, we can feel pretty confidant there is no plan. During this phase we need to figure out steps we can take to remedy the problem, and avoid the problem in the future. Maybe we need to make amends by apologizing. Perhaps we need to confront a situation that we have let linger too long. There are as many possible plans as there are problems in the world. What's important is that we have identified clearly what has happened and we make plans to address it.

Once you have a plan you need:

Accountability: This is an easy enough concept but a challenging thing to put in practice.

Accountable is defined as: to be required or expected to justify actions or decisions. We bristle at that, at least I bristle at that. Especially in western cultures we typically pride ourselves on our independence and the idea of accountability certainly goes against the idea of independence. But the truth of the matter is, no one is ever successful at life alone. Isolation is not a natural state. We were made for community. Now some of us prefer small communities and some prefer large, but we all need someone in our lives that helps us to be honest with ourselves.

Ok, so we are going to (some reluctantly) agree to accountability. This means we choose someone we trust and we share our problem, and our plan. It is important that we choose to honor someone who is trustworthy and will lovingly help us remember our plan. Well, that is what is important to me. Others may need someone who is a trustworthy drill seargent. No matter, as long as it is someone that we respect and will accept guidance from.

And now it is time for:

Action: This one is pretty clear cut. There is another saying, 'paralysis by analysis'. At some point we have to quit evaluating what went wrong, we have to stop making plans, we have to pick a plan, and put it into action. This is when you find yourself back on track and moving forward. It is important to put some type of structure around our accountability process so that as we move forward with our plan we are talking with someone who will help us continue with our forward momentum.

And over the entire process: Belief.

So how does belief fit into all of this? This second half of the circle? The part where we uncurl and move forward? This second half takes tremendous courage. It requires a flicker of faith and belief that if we try to hear what God is saying, He will step up beside us and keep whispering it in our ear as move forward.

This is the hardest part, this belief. It was so hard that I couldn't even remember exactly what was meant by belief in the context of the circle until I called Noble for a reminder.

It is so hard when we are doubled over in pain and frustrated at being in the same position for the umpteenth time or for the umpteenth year, it's hard to remember to believe. And sometimes, what makes that even harder is not the idea of believing in a loving God, although that is challenging for some. Sometimes what is most difficult is finding belief in ourselves.

Sometimes the hardest thing to believe is that we can do things differently.

But we can. We were created to overcome. We were created to rise up. No matter whether you are struggling with yelling too much at your kids or if you are hiding from the world – All things are possible. All things are possible for everyone. All things. Even your thing.

I've known people in my life who never worked through their stuff. They got stuck. I don't want that for anyone. It is hard work but it is so worth it. We are more than our mistakes. If you don't have anyone to walk with you – send me a message, I'll walk with you. Don't let a bad decision leave you with a bad life.

All things are possible with God and that means all things are possible for you.


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