Learning to Fly

Well, some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

I’m learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up (Learning to fly)
Must come down

I’m learning to fly (Learning to fly)
But I ain’t got wings

– Tom Petty, Learning to Fly

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.  – Romans 12:2 (The Voice)

I get to keep my grandson this weekend. It’s one of those rare treats that don’t come along often enough. He just turned two. Every time I see him he seems to have changed. He’s literally growing up right before my eyes.

Every now and then I see a former student of mine. It seems like I’m stuck in time, they always look so grown up. These college graduates have launched themselves into careers, families and difficult but bright futures.

My peers at my church Bible Study all have grown up children. I’ve gotten to watch them move through school, off to college and now entering into the world of work. What’s always remarkable to me is the tremendous change that always takes place in the lives of these young people. They each become their own marvelous version of an adult right before our eyes.

“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another. ” ― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

I must confess, when I do run across former students or people from the past, I’m not sure there’s always much change in my own life that’s evident. I look back over years of journals I keep and, sad to say, there’s not much progress. I’m too often writing the same lyric over and over. You know what that’s like, being stuck in the car for a too long road trip with only one tune on the radio?

But, keeping track of myself by writing it all down, does help tremendously. I am able to see patterns that all too often lead to ruts in the road. There are also breakthroughs that demonstrate, little by little I really am making forward progress in the process of transformation.

“Either your purpose is running your show or your process is.” ― Jim Lawless

What about you? What transformation is taking place in your life? Is it intentional? My grandson is really working on learning words because he wants to be more specific with his important constant stream of requests.

When all of us get to a certain age, we tend to sit back and just let things happen. Until an emergency knocks us off our groove. But you don’t have to wait for a crash to start moving out of the lane you’re in right now.

“If you spoke to your friends the way you speak to yourself – would you have any friends left?” ― Jim Lawless

  • Keep a journal each day and reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going
  • Easier to do if you get in the habit of self-talk, while you’re alone in the car, waiting in line, sitting by yourself for a few minutes
  • Self-talk is much more constructive if you turn it into prayer

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Ongoing internal conversation can help to raise your awareness of both external and internal reality. This practice builds your connection between who you are and how you are transforming. Regularly let someone in to listen so that you can remain grounded in social reality as well. Transformation isn’t a solitary experience.

Becoming more self-aware is usually the first step in transformation.  The next step is to start making some realistic goals. Find some more ways to love, that’s always going to be the right move.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” ― Paulo Coelho

Runnin’ Down A Dream

The voice on the radio today said that Tom Petty would have been 69 years old tomorrow (if he had lived). He died in 2017. One of the concerts I never attended and wished I had.

Mike Campbell, who was in Tom Petty’s band, the Heartbreakers, is now playing with Fleetwood Mac. I got to see them (and him). Did a great performance, even a Tom Petty tribute. Remember Stevie and Tom’s duet, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around?

One of Petty’s great songs is Runnin’ Down a Dream

I always thought this was a good theme song for my life. Runnin’ down a dream that never would come to me. My dream was a mixture of what I thought God wanted, my own inner inadequacies and the expectations of the world in which I grew up. A lot of stops and starts along the way. Mostly running, not much catching.

There’s a silly activity they play out during football games in Waco. They get someone, put ’em in a helmet, lead ’em to the end zone and launch footballs at them from a cannon of some sort. The poor character has to try and catch three, for a $100 each. I think they must corral cross-eyed people who’ve never held a football before to play the game. It’s also probably much harder than it looks.  Lot’s of misses.

When I look back, that’s what my runnin’ down a dream has looked like. A lot of fumbles along the way. Maybe it has been harder than it looks?

There’s a line in the lyrics, “workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads”  That’s why I identify so well with the song. My dream has been such a mystery to me (to everyone else as well, I’m sure!). But for some reason I have kept chasing it. What else was I going to do? It has frustrated me, broken my heart, filled me with joy and kept me guessing. As I look back, I am nothing but confused about the strange path this chase has taken me (and my love) on.

Runnin’ down my dream was hard on everyone else. My wife loved me very hard. It was very hard to love me. She really worked hard at it. I can’t wait to count the stars in her crown for having to endure me. I’m glad we have eternity – it’s going to take me some time!

I’m at a crossroads again. Time to think about that dream and where I’m heading next. Where are you right now in your dreamin’? What metaphor seems to fit?

  • Treadmill
  • A game of Monopoly
  • Lost in the dark woods
  • Mountain to climb
  • Quicksand
  • Another mile in the marathon
  • Hide and Seek

The dream that God gives to each of us, the call he puts on our lives, isn’t going to go away. It’s not even a mystery to him. He’s going to remain faithful to you. Your life and every situation you find yourself in isn’t God. Read that again. Don’t get mixed up, don’t lose your faith in the outcome. Keep runnin’, keep dreaming. As long as it takes to find.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” ― T.E. Lawrence (this is the Lawrence of Arabia guy)

Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 15:10), I post-it noted it near my desk at work. I think it’s a wonderful reminder to me as I keep runnin’ down whatever dreams are left.

“…and His grace toward me was not in vain.”