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.

Thank You!

A couple of days ago, my brother Wade – who now works with me, walked into my office with a non-descript box that had just arrived from my publisher. Inside, five copies of a hot pink paperback book with foreign symbols I couldn’t make out. “What’s this?” I asked as I squinted carefully, as though staring more intently would somehow make the words make sense. The only symbol on the cover to offer a clue was the number “9.” “Ohhh … I know what this is! It’s one of the new foreign editions of “Successful Women Think Differently: 9 habits to make you happier, healthier and more resilient .” Recently, I received word that the book will be translated into several foreign languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese. This new arrival was the Russian edition.

Sitting in my office, staring at the cover, I thought of who might read it. What is that woman’s daily life like halfway around the world? And how amazing that my words have a chance to reach and encourage her. A wave of gratitude rushed over me as I thought of the series of events and people required to make something like this happen – and one of those thoughts settled on you. Yes, you! You see, I can write to my heart’s content and hope that my words will resonate with readers, inspiring them to live more fulfilling, purposeful lives. But until those readers buy the books and start talking about them to their friends, spreading the word of mouth, the words don’t have the opportunity to make an impact. So as we head into Thanksgiving week, I want to tell you THANK YOU. It is because of your enthusiasm about this book that it is now garnering interest around the world!

Success doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We can’t “go it alone.” Without you forwarding my newsletters, buying my books for you or your friends, or hosting book club and small group discussions, this opportunity would not have happened. I wrote my first book 15 years ago and self-published it using my nearly maxed-out credit card with a plan of breaking even the first month. It came off the presses the day before Thanksgiving in 1999. Reaching out to everyone I knew, I broke even by selling 400 books in the first three weeks – most of them purchased as Christmas gifts I personally signed. Back then, I filled every book order myself, packaged them and made constant runs to the Post Office, sometimes selling books to the postal clerks who were curious about what I was up to – and the customers in line around me. I kept copies in the trunk of my car “just in case”, and called up local television stations for interviews. Some pretty wonderful people help me with those things today, but I’m grateful I was once the author, the editor, the publicist, the accountant, the order-taker, the salesperson and the marketing director – because it makes me appreciate where I am on my journey so much more.

Every once and a while, you need to stop and remember when – when you used to dream of being where you are now. Whether you’ve made it into a new career or finally found the love of your life or become a mom or climbed your way out of debt, you might not be exactly where you want to be, but thank God you are further along that you used to be! Researchers point out that gratitude counteracts our tendency towards “hedonic adaptation,” the process of adjusting to continually improving circumstances. As you succeed, you can raise your expectations and become discontented more easily. But looking back at how far you’ve come gives you perspective on your life and makes you more grateful for your journey.

My challenge to you this week:
Notice how far you’ve come!

Journaling assignment:
In what area(s) of your life have you come a long way? Spend a moment remembering what life was like before your circumstances improved or progress was made. Then write down what you are most grateful for and to whom you are grateful. Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

The Power of Surrender

Surrender. It is a word that conjures up thoughts of giving up and giving in. I picture soldiers on the battlefield, rifles above their heads, allowing all their hard-fought efforts to dissipate, all they’ve fought for coming to nothing. It is no wonder then that the idea of surrendering is not an idea I naturally embrace-even surrendering to God. I have to talk myself into it. I have to remind myself of the wisdom of surrender.

Fighting the Battle

Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck because we are fighting the wrong battle-one we will never win because it is not ours to win. We work ourselves into a frenzy creating plans, devising strategies, and repeatedly hitting a roadblock in our life management. Determined not to give up on our goals, we go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan. Surely, this plan will work. We’ve learned from our mistakes, accounted for them, and sought advice from all the right people. We try again. And once again, we hit a roadblock. This cycle can go for some time before we get so worn down we even secretly question whether God is on our side. Have you ever been there?

It isn’t something I pride myself on admitting as a believer-the idea that I have ever questioned God. But I have. I have had my moments-quiet moments-lying in bed pondering a situation and wondering why God was withholding something from me. Am I being punished for something? What am I doing wrong? Why does it seem to happen so easily for so-and-so, but not for me? And as I ponder more, the temptation is to become angry.

Asking the Right Questions 

Instead, I grow curious. I’ve walked long enough with God to know those questions are the wrong ones to ask. I’ve been humbled frequently enough to know my good deeds and obedience fall short of deserving even the blessings that have already overtaken me. Those questions are the enemy’s whisper, not God’s. In moments of deep disappointment and frustration, when I lean on my own understanding rather than trusting God’s process, my ears are open to hear the lies. It is a line of thinking that gets me stuck, asking, “Why? Why don’t You know better what I need? Why don’t You see the timeline I see? Why don’t You open the door that would be so easy for You to open?”

Rather than look at such questions rhetorically, I believe God invites us to actually answer the questions. I mean, He is God. And there must be an answer, right? And if He truly loves us, there must be a reason your timing and God’s timing aren’t aligned-an explanation for that closed door.

Spiritual surrender is to stop fighting for your own agenda and turn yourself over to the service of the Almighty. It is to want what God wants for you. It is to stop battling with Him and ask, “Lord, what are You trying to show me? What are You trying to teach me? How do You want to use me?” There is a reason the door isn’t open. But in our finite understanding, we may never know the answer why. Our alternative is to keep fighting, to keep pushing against circumstances that push back with equal or greater strength-and remain stuck. Or we can throw our hands up in courageous trust of the Lord. When we do that, we are no longer stuck. We are no longer pushing against what is. Instead, we rest in the Lord and flow in His plan. We find the good in what He has given us and trust that He knows best. We breathe. We trust Him. We surrender.

Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ɴɪᴠ)

My challenge to you this week: Surrender. Stop fighting for your own agenda and turn yourself over to the service of the Almighty
Journaling Assignment: Pray and meditate on what God is trying to show you in this season of your life. Ask, “Lord, what are You trying to show me? What are You trying to teach me? How do You want to use me?” Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you! 

This post is an excerpt from my book, Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable: Step Into the Amazing Life God Imagined for You.