My dear friends:
I wanted to share with you some personal discoveries I have made since the election of 2016 on November 8, 2016. No worries, this is not a political diatribe to pass on my opinions of our political system. Politically, it is enough to say I was happy with the results and, as I always have, will stand and live as a proud American.
The issue here is the toll that the election process and my involvement in it took on me. I know that many of my fellow Americans found themselves at the end, burned out and suffering discouragement and fatigue. It was a hard and often ugly election process.
I have always love the American Presidential elections. I watch all the speeches, conventions and debates. I have found it exciting and, whether my candidate wins or losses, I end it feeling a part of something great. Not this time. For whatever reason, I ended the run feeling as if I had all life drained from me. I will be honest with you. I am a very positive and hopeful person by nature, however, during and at the close of this election I felt depressed, hopeless and discouraged. Most of all, I have never felt less positive about my country. In the words of some political observer, “I love my country but I fear my government.”
I gave much prayer and thought to these feelings for they brought me great concern. I thought that one major cause was the media coverage which was negative, hard and unreasonable. I also thought it must be social media that was saturated with harsh and hurtful commentary on every word spoken or deed done. Friendships were destroyed and even families were torn apart over nothing more than a difference of opinion.
Then of course was the daily exposure of the corrupt and immoral leadership that we the people have allowed to rule over us. The lack of character and dishonesty of the political system, the administration and the media that covered it all was extremely disheartening. All this, for me, added up to a difficult state that demanded answers. So, I decided to find those answers from the only place they could be found, at the throne of my God in prayer.
My decision was to begin a sort of fast starting the day after the election (I knew I could not pull myself away till it was over). My fast consisted of watching no news coverage at all. I stopped watching the news in the morning, which has been my habit, and any of the evening news programs. I stopped listening to talk radio and broadcast news – even local news. I limited my time on Facebook and social media to once a day and that only to post encouraging things and to wish friends and family happy birthdays and anniversaries. I avoided all political and negative post from anyone. My goal was to keep as much negative and discouraging things from entering my life as I can.
I did not just stop doing somethings and hope for the best. I have learned over time that it is never what you “don’t” do that makes a difference. Change happens from action, not inaction. So, it is always what you do instead of one thing that will cause change to happen.
Rather than spend the first part of my day watching the news, I moved my time of Bible reading and devotional reading up along with my journaling time. I spent more time in prayer and seeking God’s help and guidance to why this was so difficult for me. My focus was once again centered on my writing and the work at hand. No time was wasted and I did not allow myself to slid back into old habits.
Sure enough, as time went on I began to see the real root of the problem. God in His great kindness to me started to show me the truth and what I needed to do to fix it. First, I found the problem was not the news, Facebook or negative media coverage. These things did not help, and they did pour a lot of negative energy into my life, but that were not the problem. The problem I discovered was me. It was not my input that was causing the problem, it was my output. I used my time looking for the newest scandal or problem rather than doing what I was called to do. I was no longer learning things that would improve my life and add value to others, I was developing an opinion. Even though I knew the news media was dishonest, corrupt and had nothing of value to give, I allowed it to be my main source of information and interest.
Change for me happened when I once again found my strength in the word of God and prayer. Some of you may say, “That is fine for you, but I am not a religious person.” I am a man of faith. I believe with all my heart that there is a power, a person, who is stronger than me, smarter than me, and far more powerful than me, Who love me and has my best interests. Maybe you can live life on your own with no hope for tomorrow, I cannot, and the great things is, I don’t have to.
One of my great discoveries during this time was to reignite my dependence on Jesus Christ. In Him I find direction, and for a lost person, that is big stuff. In Him I have hope for all my tomorrows. I believe that I was created for a purpose, a great purpose, by a God who has every intention for me to fulfill that purpose. If God, the Creator of the universe, intends for me to fulfill my calling, then who or what can stop me? Friend, there is nothing more exciting and hopeful than that.
Another thing that He showed me during this time was that the world may be negative and wicked, but I do not have to be. His word shows me how to live a life that is good, safe and right. It is also a life that is exciting, full of adventure and adds value to everything else. Want to make the world a better place? Make yourself a better person and you will make it better by one, and that one is what it takes. Can you do this without God in your life? Yes. We all choose our behavior and how we will live. It is possible for a person to choose to do right and live a good life. But here is the reality of it all from the words of the great Charles Spurgeon: “Good behavior can keep you out of jail, but only Jesus Christ can keep you out of hell.”
I tell you this to encourage you and to give you hope. I know that many still are suffering fatigue and frustration from the post-election season. Some, may have been battling this sense of discouragement and despair for some time even without the election. The time has come to take your life back. It is time to make a change and it is a change that only you can make. No one can do this for you and no one can keep it from you. Allow me to leave you with three things that you need to understand to move into the positive and fulfilling life that you have always been intended to live.
- Understand that life is all about choices. You are the one who chooses how you will live. Knowing this is only part of the issue of choice. The second part, the part that many miss, is that with every choice – EVERY CHOICE – there is a consequence. If you make good and right choices, you will get good and right consequences. If you make bad and destructive choices, you will get bad and destructive consequences. This is true every time, without exception. The answer is simple, make good choices.
- Understand that your destiny is affected by you daily habits. If you spend your time feeding your head negative and hurtful stuff, you will be angry, hurt and discouraged all the time. Focus on what is good and healthy and kind and proper and you will become that kind of person. Develop healthy and strong daily habits that will uplift and encourage you. Don’t worry about stopping unhealthy behaviors, just replace them.
- Understand this, whether you believe in God or not, the truth is you were created for a purpose and that purpose is good. God did not have a quota to fill and you became just a biological happening. He chooses to put you here because He loves and cares for you. Jesus came to die for your sins so that you will not have to. He is offering you a life full of promise but He will not force Himself on you. Just because you may not believe it, does not mean it is not true. It is there if you choose. That decision, as with all decisions, is yours and it also has it consequences, either way.
In closing, I will be continuing this fast of sorts. I may hear the news now and then, but it will not be my focus. I will be commenting and connecting on social media, but not making political or negative comments – it is not what I am here to do. I will be focusing on my purpose and working hard at becoming my very best. My encouragement to you is simple: be your best, have good manners, love God, discover the unknown and change your world.
John Patrick Hickey