Stop Hoping

My son, Austin, got a BB gun for Christmas. Such a timeless gift, exept this particular one is made of cheap plastic and probably won’t make it through the year, let alone a lifetime. But hey, it’s a timeless tradition, so says Ralphie and his trusty Red Ryder.
I don’t remember when I got my BB gun. Whether it was a birthday or Christmas, I cannot recall, but I was given one by my dad when I was but 8 years old. I grew into being an expert marksman, destroying Jack Daniels bottles at like 10 feet away with the best of them. (Them being my older brother). We were tremendous warriors with our arsenal. We fought in battles, destroyed bulwarks, conquered foreign lands and shot a lot, A LOT of glass bottles. Ah, those were the days. When you could leave early, come home late, and lunch be ready in between.
I want my boys to enjoy that life the same as I was able to when I was their age, and thus a BB gun.

Of all the important things that go along with learning to shoot, aiming is pretty important. It does little good to have a gun, if one doesn’t know how to hit anything specific. There is something amazing about reaching out way ahead of you, much farther than you can reach and hit something through careful aim.

Imagine your life in that way. What if your life were a projectile, and the world a million different targets? And queue biblical principle, Psalm 127.

One of the most tragic things we face today is that we are that projectile, but we never stop to focus the aim of our lives in a way that actually aims at a specific target. We spend a lot of time hoping life is going to turn out or turn into something wonderful rather than aiming directly at what we hope will happen.

How often have you used that phrasing?
I hope this year I get a raise.
I hope my spouse starts doing (whatever) then our marriage will start becoming better.
I hope my kids turn out okay when they are older. 
I hope we make it through this.

You can attach whatever you want to those words and, essentially, what you are saying is that everything else in my life is more important than actually doing something about that one thing (parenting, marrage-ing, carrer-ing,).

Stop hoping and start planning for hope.

Planning for hope is your aiming at something with such intensity that you are nearly oblivious to the things around you and that one thing becomes your very mission at this moment in your life.

Consider an easy one…parenting. HA! Rather than hoping your children leave behind the selfish nature they seem to come pre-programed with, what if you planned for them to experience generosity and compassion? And you did that repeatedly so that over time they can begin to see the value and blessing in being characterized more by who they are than what they have. Small specific steps like this can make a mountain of difference over the few years you have with your precious children, but it starts with a loving parent who is more committed to actual parenting than hoping kids just happen to turn out.

The same thing is true of your marriage, your money, your retirement. Stop hoping those areas are going to be great, start planning that, over time, they will become great

The start of a year always seems to bring with it a sense of renewal, a natural desire to become different, better, more. Don’t let this one pass by with simply making a few resolutions you know you’re just going to break 3 days from now in cookie filled stupor. I can see you know, rocking on the floor, holding that half-filled cookie tin that was left over from the holidays. The crumbs are still on your face as you munch that sweet bite, almost snarling at any who comes close to you. But after the fact, you have that remorse of disappointment. You failed again! You could not fulfill that resolution to go cookie free, even for a minute. So, change the game. Stop hoping this year will be the difference. Start aiming at greatness and leave the resolutions for the rest.

What are you aiming at this year? Tomorrow, I’ll let you know where I am aiming. For the whole year, I’ll be focused on just one thing. No resolutions, no empty self promises, just one word that will become the filter of focus for my entire year and will be the thing where I Plan Hope into my life rather than hoping hope shows up.

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