Last week, I had a day all planned out. The plan was to head to a meeting at church and then meet a friend for lunch. All was well until I saw the sea of red lights ahead of me and I found myself stuck in an epic traffic jam.
I realize, there are some delays we can’t predict, but this one I could have. I knew this road was notorious for being backed up and I didn’t check the traffic report ahead of time. And what’s worse, this wasn’t your average traffic; there was a tractor-trailer blocking the entire road. I sat stuck on this road for over an hour, which led me to miss not only my meeting, but also lunch with my friend. I felt terrible.
What went wrong?
My intentions were good. I even had a plan and schedule to follow, but they still didn’t get me where I wanted to be.
The same thing happens with your life’s journey. You can dream and even plan, but still be blocked from moving forward. As you travel in pursuit of your true purpose, here are 7 delays and distractions you can plan for, and with God’s help and wisdom, steer around.
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1. The Comparison Trap
There are few things that can prevent you from fulfilling your purpose more than comparing your journey with someone else’s. Instead of concerning yourself with where everyone else is, stay in your lane and keep moving forward. God has created you with a unique temperament, passions, and giftings (Psalm 139:13)—discover what they are, place them before God, and ask Him how He might intend for them to guide your way.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. … Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13)
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Nothing will keep you focused and on task better than a deadline. Many miss out on living the life they were created for by thinking they don’t have enough time to create it. If I had a nickel for every time someone assumed that they were disqualified because of their age, I’d be rich. God’s plan and purpose will always come to pass, regardless of your age. The only thing He needs from you is willingness.
On the flip side, many feel they have plenty of time to figure out their lives, leading them to procrastinate. We don’t know the number of our days on this earth. Tomorrow is never promised (James 4:13-14). Regardless of how you struggle with time, both mentalities prevent you from staying focused and fulfilling your purpose.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14)
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Unforgiveness is like cancer. It eats away at you until even the healthy parts are contaminated. It pulls you in with its desire for vengeance and prevents your life from moving forward. Whatever it was that hurt you, let go of the offense. You’ll free yourself from the weight—God can pay back more abundantly than you ever could yourself.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
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4. People Pleasing
There is no way to move forward in all that God created you to be if you are busy trying to please others. Most people pleasers can’t bear to have someone unhappy with them. Don’t miss hearing the wonderful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” by getting caught up in trying to please people who will likely never be satisfied anyway.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
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5. Toxic Thinking
When negative thinking is left unchecked, it spirals out of control and becomes toxic. You begin to believe the thoughts and feelings that keep you stuck in fear. The solution isn’t just positive thinking, but rather challenging the truth of the negative ones. The enemy’s number one target is the believer’s mind; therefore it is vital to know God’s truth in order to combat the lies that bounce around in your head.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
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Are you the type who must have everything go your way? I was. I delighted in having everything figured out, but when my plans were foiled, I didn’t handle it well at all. I learned that control is a trust issue. Oftentimes, our attempt at control is simply an indication that we don’t trust God’s sovereignty. However, when we begin to realize that only He truly knows what’s best for us and His love is so outrageous, we can begin to lay town our controlling nature and submit to His perfect will.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
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7. Lack of Fairness
From our earliest years, we were taught to treat others with fairness. But God doesn’t say that everything in our life will be fair. Romans 9:15 reads, “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” God is just, but His favor isn’t always fair. Jesus reminds us “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Don’t lose focus and miss out on living a life of purpose because of any of these distractions. I encourage you to start today to address your distractions and set out to overcome them. I promise it will be worth the investment.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Kris Reece holds a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling and a Master’s Degree in Theology. She is a Christian Life Coach, Personal Development Coach, counselor, and author of three books as well as a contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. For more information, visit www.KrisReece.com.
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Originally published Monday, 20 May 2019.