What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

Joy Comes in the Morning!

I visited Colorado Springs for a speaking engagement and a few meetings. A friend picked me up at the airport, and took me to dinner. We then headed to Glen Eyrie Castle and Conference Center, where I’d be staying during my trip. Before arriving, I had received a generous invitation from a staff member at Glen Eyrie to stay at no expense in the biggest and nicest room at their Christian retreat center nestled in the foothills near picturesque Pike’s Peak. The property, a castle built by a civil war general for his wife, was established in the city of Colorado Springs in the late 19th century.

I’d been told the location was beautiful, but it was dark when we arrived, and upon proceeding through the gate, I began to feel a bit apprehensive. We drove along a winding road with no street lights and small, dark cottages sprinkled here and there. It seemed like the scene just before something crazy happens in a scary movie. We pulled up to the home I’d be staying in. It was just after 10:00 pm. One light was on in the house and I thought I saw a man sitting at a desk near a front window. We walked up to the large, ornate wood door with a heavy metal knocker. Taped to the center of the door was a note with “Valorie” scribbled on the outside and a key inside. It instructed me to the location of my room inside this bed-and-breakfast style cottage.

We walked through the foyer, then a long, stately dining room with a fireplace and seating for 14 people, and finally a vast living area with paintings of people I imagined were long gone. The lighting was nearly non-existent, and as we proceeded through the house, I thought, “Where am I? Who else is in this house? Are the former inhabitants still ‘with us’?” I knew I was being silly, but the thoughts and questions were gaining speed. We arrived at my room – a spacious pink bedroom with a long, hall entry way, an antique canopy bed, living area, work area and a huge bathroom. My friend saw the apprehension on my face. And his wife looked a little apprehensive about leaving me there, too.

“You don’t have to stay here,” he assured me. “We can go the Hilton right now if you want.” I gazed through one of the dozen, 10-feet high windows in the room. It was pitch black outside so I couldn’t see a thing. But I wasn’t feeling excited about staying.

“It was such a generous offer, and I would feel terrible about coming here and then leaving to check into a hotel,” I said.

Just then, I heard a motherly voice call out, “Val-or-ie?” I turned to find a lovely, older couple – the home’s hosts – enter the room.

The husband, perhaps sensing a little tension by the way we were scoping out the room, said lightly, “Don’t worry. There are no ghosts here. :) It just looks like this because you came at night.”

A little embarrassed, I said, “Oh, I’m sure it’s lovely in the daytime,” hoping I was right.

The host’s wife proceeded to tell me a few things about the room and the house. She said something about an unconventional wake-up call at 5:30 am, but I thought she was kidding. “Good night,” they said before retiring to their room.

“Well,” I said to my friend and his wife. “I’ll stay tonight and let’s see how it goes.”

“I’ll be back to pick you up in the morning,” he offered, “Just pack your bags if you want to check into a hotel tomorrow, and we’ll take them when I pick you up.”

Uneasy, but undeterred, I readied for bed and decided that my apprehension was unfounded (but left the hallway light on for good measure :).

Around 5:20 a.m., I was suddenly awakened by the sound of a woman laughing – well, kind of cackling. It was almost a giggle – little short, choppy bursts of laughter. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a bit strange. The second time, I thought, “Boy, something must really be funny.” I tried to go back to sleep, but she wouldn’t stop her funny little giggles.

“What could be that funny this early in the morning!?” I thought, now feeling a bit annoyed.

Then it occurred to me, the hostess warned me the night before that I would get a wake up call around 5:30 in the morning – from wild turkeys gobbling outside. I jumped out of bed and looked outside, only to see huge, wild, black turkeys shuffling about on the lawn. In the background was a spectacular mountain view, and I could see the edges of a large, stone castle peeking from behind the tall, evergreen trees on the property. The scene from the 12 expansive windows in my room was captivating. I took a deep breath of gratitude and inhaled the divine beauty of nature. Then I laughed at myself for my reaction the night before.

During my three days at Glen Eyrie, I took walks, meditated and enjoyed the scenic landscape and peaceful environment that surrounded me.

I gleaned a simple lesson from this story:

Sometimes, you have to persevere through the uncertainty of darkness to experience the beautiful vision that comes when light is shed on a situation. Things aren’t always as they seem, especially when we have a limited view.

In what area of your life are you apprehensive because you can’t see what’s coming? Are you ready to bail out quickly before you can see the whole picture? This week, I offer you a challenge: Refuse to allow irrational fears to pressure you into making hasty decisions – whether in your personal or professional life. “… Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” Psalm 30:5 promises. Stick around and see what God has in store before you take it upon yourself to “fix things.” When you finally see what morning looks like, you may just find you were in the right place all along.

Journaling assignment:
In what area of your life are you tempted to make a premature decision? Is God prompting you to wait a little while longer before showing you the bigger picture?

My challenge to you this week:
Be patient. Refuse to make a hasty decision. Instead, endure a little discomfort until you can see the bigger picture and can make a more informed decision. Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

What’s Your Purpose?

Why are you here? I don’t mean why are you here reading these words right now. Instead, why are you here on this planet at this time, born into the family you were born into, with your unique gifts and talents, with your experiences? There is indeed a reason you are here. It’s your purpose. Some call it your mission. We all have one. Our job is to discover what it is and live it.

I recall winning honors and awards in my previous career field, yet feeling a deep dissatisfaction with my work. Because I was good at my profession, the people around me assumed I was happy and purposeful. But deep down, I knew something was off. Life can have all the external accolades of success, but if there is no purpose to what you are accomplishing, you’ll feel a black hole – an empty place in your soul that wants true fulfillment. That true fulfillment comes from knowing you are living on purpose.

One day, while coaching a client who was struggling to articulate her life’s mission, a question just rolled off my tongue: How is someone’s life better when they cross your path? She immediately began describing her mission, “Well, I am a bridge builder who connects people, ideas and resources, so a person’s life is better because I help them make the right connection.” Just like that. Crystal clear. She articulated her purpose. Over the years, this powerful question has helped many people get crystal clear about their purpose in life
Without a lot of introspection and pondering, answer this question from your gut: How is someone’s life better when they cross your path?

We are all here for a reason – leaving the world in some way better than it would otherwise have been without us. The fun part is that we get to accomplish that mission using our own uniqueness – our gifts, strengths, passion and experiences. While you are likely not the only person in the world with your particular mission, you are the only one who can accomplish it the way you can. There are people you are uniquely equipped to impact. They connect with you. They are around you. They are impacted by you. Who will you connect and live out your purpose with today?

I challenge you to take a moment and answer this question with one simple sentence: How is someone’s life better because they cross your path? If you have trouble answering it, chat with the people in your life who know you best. Sometimes your impact comes so easily to you that it’s difficult for you to recognize it. But the people whom you are impacting will know. Ask them.

Challenge:

Write your personal mission statement.

Journaling assignment:

How is someone’s life better because they cross your path? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!