This morning I drove the back way to take Katya to school. The road is curvy and two-lane. We get to see horses, goats, and even a miniature Statue of Liberty. I’m guessing that not everyone has that on their drive to school.
So, this morning the cars in front of me slowed down and stopped. One-by-one they waited for oncoming traffic to pass and drove around some object in the middle of the road. The red Honda Civic in front of me pulled over to the right hand side of the road and drove up onto the grass alongside. Blocking the road was a large branch.
But, here’s the thing. It wasn’t that large. And it wasn’t that heavy.
The woman driving the red Civic hopped out of her car and with one hand dragged the branch to the side of the road. As she got back into her car, I pulled alongside, smiled, and just said, “Thank you! Have a great day!”
I was really amazed that five or six people made a choice to wait for oncoming traffic and then drive around the branch instead of pulling over to the side of the road and removing the obstacle.
But then it made me think about myself. What obstacles am I tolerating in my own life that are keeping me from running the race marked out for me?
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
Obstacles are not sin. They are just barriers that are keeping you from where you know you need to go. Here are five action steps to help you to stop tolerating your obstacles and move it out of your way.
Identify the obstacle.
One summer I ran a week-long camp that girls who lived in the inner city out of their environment and gave them an amazing opportunity. One of the girls was having a particularly hard time. Her attitude was getting in the way. She had a chip on her shoulder and she wore it like a badge. She was tough, mean, and ill-tempered.
After a couple of days of watching her, we had a “tree talk.” She wasn’t open to discussing the root of her behavior. That was just too hard. So, we talked about her behavior. Her behavior was an obstacle. It was hindering her from enjoying this amazing opportunity, it was hurting other campers, and it could prevent her from being able to stay at camp.
In this “tree talk,” we identified the obstacle. Get savvy.
Decide whether you want to move the obstacle out of the way.
And I asked her the bottomline question, “Do you want to stay at camp?”
With her eyes down and her chip gleaming bright, she nodded her head. I asked her to look at me and repeated the question. “Do you really want to stay at camp?”
Somehow looking into my eyes took a bit of the sheen off of the badge she had worn so proudly. She nodded her head again. This time tears pooled in her eyes.
With just a bit of tenderness I said, “Because if you do, some things are going to have to change. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you are not going to be able to stay at camp. Do you understand?”
She nodded. “You say you want to stay at camp. In order to get what you want, some things are going to have to change. Are you ready to talk about these things?”
Have the courage to decide whether or not you really want to move the obstacle. Get real.
Make a manageable plan to move that obstacle out of the way.
At this point, we worked together to identify just a few concrete behaviors that needed to change. There was plenty more I could have addressed. And I could have insisted that we did deep into the “why” of her behavior. But dealing with the “what” was a bit less threatening and a bit more manageable for her at this time.
Make a manageable plan to move the obstacle out of the way and enable you to move forward. Get smart.
Since me and my camper had worked out a plan together, I was able to hold her accountable. This meant that I watched for her successes, celebrated them with her, and was able to come alongside her when she began to slip into tough talk, bad attitude, and ill-tempered behavior.
Sometimes coming alongside was just a raised eyebrow. Other times I just pulled her aside and reminder her of what she said that she wanted.
It wasn’t an easy week for her or for me. She slipped several times because she was so comfortable with that chip on her shoulder. But she didn’t slip so far that she had to go home. Get accountability.
She had to do the work. She had to pull her car over and drag that branch out of the way. I couldn’t do it for her.
Take that first step in moving the obstacle out of the way. Get busy.
Think about where you want to go in life, the person you want to be … Is there something that you are doing, something that really is in your hands that is keeping you from your goals? What are you doing keeping you from running your race?