Early this morning I was enjoying my regular quiet time, when I heard a distant thunder. I scrambled to my feet, made my way to the window and looked out at the still dark sky. Then I saw it. For a millisecond, the sky brightened, exposing the clouds that were previously hidden in darkness. It was lightning. A storm was headed our way.
I quickly moved through my entire home, disconnecting everything that was plugged into the wall outlets. Then I went back to my bedroom. I grabbed some pillows, sat on the floor at the end of my bed (away from the windows and outside walls) and I waited.
I’m sure it seems odd that a small flash of lightning from a distant storm would drive a grown woman to such juvenile actions. But what you don’t know is what happened just a few weeks ago. I was enjoying a typical summer evening at home when a strong wind developed and strange looking clouds began to move oddly in the sky. I had never seen anything like it. I stood there looking through wall-to-wall windows at this anomaly when lightning started to strike all around me. I could literally see the bolts touching the ground only blocks away from me. Well, I’m the type of person that loves rain and thunderstorms, so I just stood there watching (not recommended). All of a sudden, a weird feeling came over me and within seconds a sound like a canon exploding filled the air as the house shook. Lightning had blasted a two-foot hole into the side of the house, traveled down a wire 10 feet, blowing another two-foot hole through an interior wall on its way down to the basement, where it blasted through an outlet destroying all in its path. We had been struck by lightning.
When lightning strikes, it tends to cause a person to look at life a little differently and realize the brevity of it. It’s a reminder to live each day to the fullest, making the most of every opportunity. It is better to leave this earth having given it your “all” than to “die with your dream in your pocket,” as my friend Karen Robinson says. With that in mind, I want to share with you some things I learned when lightning struck.
Lessons from a Lightning Strike
1. Standing in a room full of windows during a lightning storm is not the wisest thing to do. In fact, there’s no wisdom in it at all! Likewise, intentionally exposing yourself to anything that will put your physical or emotional well-being at risk lacks wisdom. Not only does it threaten your existence, but at minimum, it also stagnates progress and prevents you from getting from where you are right now to where you want to be.
2. People will drive miles to get a look at a lightning strike, so don’t let just anybody into your house because they have on a uniform. Translation: There may be some people in your life who look harmless at first sight, but they’re attracted to your life for wrong or selfish reasons. So, be alert and exercise healthy boundaries. Otherwise, your time and energy will be wasted dealing with toxic people who don’t have your best interests at heart, instead of people propelling you forward toward your goals.
3. It really is possible to live without the television, Blu-Ray player, X-Box, etc. The truth is, you’ll actually lead a more productive and relational life because of it. There is nothing more debilitating to progress than spending more time watching someone else fulfill their dreams, while resolving to pursue your own with whatever time you have left over. Just saying.
Questions to Ponder
1. Are there any circumstances you find yourself gravitating toward that hinder your ability to move from where you are now to where you want to be personally, relationally, or vocationally?
2. Which people in your life inspire you to action and which seem to hinder your journey toward the goals you desire to accomplish? What step can be taken to maximize the benefit of your positive relationships and minimize the detriment of your negative associations?
3. What distractions can you reduce in your life that will free up some time for you to work toward accomplishing your dreams?
In every turn of life, there is a lesson to be learned. For this reason, I encourage you to celebrate the “wonderful” and glean truth from the “difficult.” That way your “lightning strike,” in whatever form it may come, can be more of an asset than a liability.
Photo (Flickr CC) by USFWS Mountain-Prairie