“You never cease to amaze me with your over-abundant life. Wow! You are living the Dream!”

That was the message I got last week in an email from a cherished friend whom I’ve known since high school. She reads my column online, and was commenting on one I wrote a few weeks ago about attending a Hollywood red-carpet event: a Book Launch and Gala for “Fearless Women, Visions of a New World.” In the column, I also mentioned my trip to Uganda last fall – which had a direct connection to an earlier Fearless Women book – and a visit I had with a Ugandan family while I was in LA.

“God is indeed blessing me with an abundant life,” I told my friend when I responded to her email. Then I mentioned that He is also giving me boundary-pushing challenges and a whole lot of work to do. But I’m loving every minute of it. I feel scared, confused, uncomfortable and overwhelmed for much of the time, but I’m still loving every minute of it.

I was grateful to my friend for the email she sent me. For a number of reasons, but for two in particular.

One is that it reminded me that whenever I’m experiencing fear, discomfort and work that’s overwhelming in both scope and amount, I need to stop and take time to recognize and appreciate the abundance I am enjoying because of it.

The other is that it reminded me that whenever I’m enjoying the abundance in my life, I need to stop and take time to remember and acknowledge the fear, discomfort, and hard work that’s required.
When I talk about abundance, I’m not defining it in terms of wealth or accumulation – although that can certainly be a part of it – but in terms of experience and enrichment. And when I talk about fear, discomfort and hard work, I’m not trying to downplay the “fun and excitement” of abundance, but to put it in perspective.

More often than I would like, I find myself at or near the point of sleepless nights, tearful days, and concerns about whether I’ve taken on too much work, too big a project, or too many commitments. I find myself venturing – or falling – into areas that are way beyond my capabilities, expertise, or frame of reference. And I find myself wondering if I’m going to end up being a disappointment to my family and friends, or a failure in the eyes of the colleagues and co-workers who look up to me, who trust me, and who are counting on me to do whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing.

What I’ve learned over time – and continue to learn over and over again – is that those difficult, desperate, and painful periods almost always precede a major and unexpected breakthrough or accomplishment. What is happening is that I’m pushing myself – or being pushed – out of my comfort zone, and it’s that very process that feels so painful and scary. As long as I don’t give in to the fear or the feelings, retreating back into my safe, comfortable surroundings, I know that my world and my comfort zone are actually growing in both size and scope. And I know that I will enjoy whatever happens as a result. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.

My friend was also correct in her comment about “Living the Dream.” I’ve realized for a long time now that my dream is to do work that I love and am good at and that enriches others in some way, to spend time whenever I can with family and friends – the people whose company I enjoy and who seem to enjoy mine, and to continually stretch and grow and explore this wonderful planet that is home to us all.

And, of course, to always recognize and appreciate the abundant life God has given me.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on June 7, 2012.
© Betty Liedtke, 2012

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