How Back to the Future May Have Changed Mine

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a movie on the lawn of a friend’s house. We had so much fun eating tacos and watching Back to the Future. Do you remember that film? Honestly, what I had remembered was Michael J. Fox shredding Johnny B. Goode on the electric guitar.

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 What I didn’t remember was that his character, Marty McFly, wanted to give up music at the beginning of the film because one person had criticized him. I could sympathize.

I have always been sensitive to the criticism of others. Growing up as both a people pleaser and a creatively-minded person, I found myself creating things that I would never show to other people for fear of what they might say. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, so I would often use the excuse that my work wasn’t “ready” to be seen yet. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Working in a creative field requires a great deal of confidence, vulnerability, and perseverance.

One of the major lessons I’ve been learning in this season of life is perseverance. The same night of the movie, I was talking to a friend about a dream I’ve been pursuing and I found myself saying, “I want to do this but it’s going to be really hard. I’ll probably have to focus my whole life on it for a few years if its going to happen. I just want a little assurance that it’s what I’m suppossed to do.”

 It was a very truthful and vulnerable statement, and I found myself dissecting it for a few days after I said it. It got me asking myself, “Am I afraid to do hard things?” Or am I being wise and seeking to make an informed decision? Maybe a little bit of both. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll do the hard things only to be rejected in the end.

 But I want to be made of sterner stuff. I want to be a person of perseverance. I think of world changers who persevered, and William Wilberforce immediately springs to mind.

Wilberforce had a dream to see slavery ended and he was foolish enough to think it could be done. He is quoted as saying, “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible…So we will do them anyway.”

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce

This man lobbied for abolition  for 18 years before the slave trade was abolished.

However, his work wasn’t done there. He continued to tirelessly work for the freedom of those already in slavery and only saw these dreams come to pass shortly before his death–26 years after the slave trade was abolished. Now that’s perseverance!

Conviction and hope seem to be the keys to perseverance. I suppose that’s what I was saying to my friend. I have enough hope and vision for what could be, but I’m seeking the conviction that will keep me strong when things are hard.

I don’t have the answers yet. The Apostle Paul said to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Well, I can’t quite seem to make out the trail. But until I do, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other–keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. At this point that is what perseverance means to me.

The Power of Words

Words are powerful.

I think that is what always attracted me to writing. I loved (and still love) the idea of being able to influence and entertain people through the written word.

As a  child I could not get enough of stories. I would read voraciously. The thought of having a library in my own house, like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, seemed like the ultimate perk of becoming an adult. (Well, that and staying up as late as you want.)

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In fact, when I was a kid the barcode on my library card got worn from so much use, which meant that it had difficulty scanning. However, this wasn’t a problem because I had my library card number memorized. I know.

But all of those stories, all of those words…I just couldn’t get enough. The books whispered to me, promising mystery and adventure within their pages.

I always thought, probably because of those stories, that my epic adventure would involve lots of traveling, maybe swordplay, or even magic. I knew that I was a great warrior, I just hadn’t seen battle yet.

As an adult it’s taken me a long time to learn that I am a warrior, right now. Fighting battles everyday. My weapons just look a little different than I used to think they would. Instead of a sword or a bow and arrow, I wield a pen and a laptop.

I have finally learned that words are a weapon that can be used for good or ill. Proverbs tells us that, “Life and death is in the power of the tongue.”

Or put another way, the Doctor (of Dr. Who) exclaimed in battle:

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This realization has given me pause. I use words so carelessly sometimes without stopping to consider that they could do irreparable harm to someone else.

Or my words could encourage someone!

My friend Mae is so good at this. She is always calling people, letting them know she was thinking about them. She is constantly affirming others, telling them the good things she has noticed about them. So often these words of encouragement come at a time when that person really needed it.

She has a gift for calling out the precious gold in people. And you should see people’s faces light up when she tells them just how great they are. I believe it makes a powerful difference for people to feel that someone has really seen them and noticed the best things about them.

It reminds me of this quote, which I have always taken as a personal challenge.

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Today I want to give you permission to be who you were meant to be. Maybe no one has ever done that before. But trust me, you were born to be great. And the more you allow yourself to be that awesome person that you know you could be, you grant others the same freedom.

When I was a child, I thought I would grow up to be beautiful, strong, artistic, kind, and generous. I’m pretty sure I thought there would be lots of dancing and reading and baking involved. Now that I’m grown up, I still think that that is the person I want to be.

So I think I will be.

How about you? Who do you want to be? Who does your best friend want to be? How about your mother? Or your boss? Or the person who makes your coffee?

Maybe you could help that person become who it is they want to be by using your powerful words. Speak life.