I was sitting at a long narrow table. The kind of table you find lined throughout hotel ballrooms when hosting a conference. I remember my good friend and coach at the time challenging a group of us to THINK BIG as we write down a goal beyond our wildest imagination. I remember Ben Newman saying: “WRITE DOWN THE BIGGEST GOAL YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.” I sat with an empty page staring me in the face. I held a pen that seemed to weigh a full ton. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt empty.
I often utter the saying “life has a way of bringing you to your knees.” This moment in time stands out as one of the most profound moments of my life. I had just turned 33 years old that week. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was entering what many refer to as my “Jesus Year.” I would later learn of the significance in relation to others also having major transformations at the age of 33. The year was just that for me- TRANSFORMATIONAL. This transformation started with me sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with nothing to write. I had no goals. I had no passion. I was suppressed and beaten down. I was tired of being compounding goals year after year. I was tired of thinking bigger and hitting performance based thresholds. I was tired of living for other people. With tears welling up in my eyes in a room full of other high performers, I eventually wrote three words that kept ping-ponging in my head: Peace, Happiness & Contentment.
I spent years being a high performer in school. I then spent years as a high performer in sales and client relations. I was immersed in perceived pain whenever I missed higher metrics and targets as each year passed; so I typically did whatever it took to achieve more, be bigger and be better. I remember barely celebrating a good year because it could’ve been more than it was. I seldom remember feeling much happiness or contentment. I seldom remember feeling much of anything besides pressure, gut-wrenching anxiety, fear, panic and tiredness. Decades of performing and never feeling satisfied. Decades of making decisions for others instead of myself. Decades of letting my unknown/buried wounds drive the wheel of my life. I finally hit my breaking point as a newly turned 33 year-old man in a hotel ball room when all I could think about was my lack of Peace, Happiness & Contentment.
I was rocked to the core. The air had vanished from my hard-charging tires of life. I had an epiphany that left me with nothing but tears and helplessness. I was unhappy in my career despite my accomplishments. I was unhappy in every major facet of my personal life. I was living a shallow life. I was living a life full of external pleasures in an attempt to fill the voids within. I was a version of myself driven only by the world and for the world. I feel like my soul was crying out that day: “DUSTIN, YOU’RE MISSING THE POINT TO LIFE.”
What was the point? What did I do next? Many things had to change. That was the day I started the journey that eventually led me to my Romans 12:2 mindset toward life: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” -NIV
My life completely transformed throughout the past few years. I had a life built upon sand, not upon The Rock. Wrestling with God ensued. Wrestling with the old patterns and worldly version of myself ensued. Wrestling with a belief system that others could fulfill me ensued. Wrestling with sin ensued. Wrestling with guilt and shame ensued. Wrestling took three years, and to be honest I still wrestle with things, as I’m still evolving into my new self and learning to Surrender.
Here I am. A 36 year-old man of many failures and lessons; yet committed to vaulting forward by being immersed in the present. A man committed to forgiving the past and letting go of hurts. A man committed to forgiving myself and others who hurt me along the way. A man who is no longer gripped with fear. A man no longer gripped by pain or old patterns created by others. A man ready to step forward.
I believe that I’m able to have excitement for 2020 and beyond because I’ve made major strides toward “burning my past.” How? I realize that without my journey I wouldn’t have this level of FAITH today. I wouldn’t have the craving for Christ that I do as I sit here writing you. You learn to forgive the past when you look at it with gratitude for how it brought you to your present. I’m at peace with my journey, as I now realize more than ever what I brought me to – Him. I couldn’t write goals before because my spirit realized that those goals didn’t result in any true fulfillment within. I had so much healing to do. A good friend of mine referred to the past few years as my version of “The Hero’s Journey.” I had to stay in a valley and be sculpted before I would have the zest to move forward with any passion whatsoever. Perhaps I’m ready to write down and work toward my future now because I’m stronger. Perhaps I’m ready and more prepared because I have God. Funny how even as I get stronger, I crave His strength more. I realize as we grow older we often become wiser; yet we realize as we become wiser how much more we actually don’t know, hence wisdom. This is how I feel about my relationship with God. I have experienced so much more LIFE in my walk with Him, which makes me crave even more because I realize He is where I find these three words: PEACE, JOY and CONTENTMENT.
Peace, Happiness and Contentment written on a piece of paper. I haven’t written down a goal since. I haven’t had the desire. I have 28 things currently written down as goals/commitments for 2020. I am taking them all seriously, yet none more so than my commitment to continue my SURRENDER PRAYER and this SURRENDER PROJECT. If I can help one other person rid themselves of anxiety and fear by putting their TRUST in a God, I view that as a MAJOR VICTORY. I’ve learned through SO MUCH pain, hurt, worry, fear and anxiety that SURRENDERING to HIM and HIS PLAN for life is THE ONLY WAY to TRULY LIVE. That’s what this project is about- helping others realize this fact, as I continue learning myself. Imagine a movement where we all SURRENDER our lives to God’s plan. Would the world be a much better place? Would our internal worlds be so much more at PEACE? Would we find true HAPPINESS, aka- JOY? Would we feel truly CONTENT as we put God first in our lives? Maybe that’s why the 33 year-old crushed version of myself could only write down those three words that day. Perhaps I had to go through a period of tribulation to reach a point where my perspective settled on God and the importance of SURRENDERING to Him. Maybe I had to continually lose control to realize He is the only way. Maybe I needed to fail over and over to realize that without belief, trust and a relationship with Christ, that’s exactly what life is- a failure.
Here’s a toast to 2019: the year of my road trip. The year of launching My Surrender Project. A year full of lessons. A year filled with healing. A year with so many adventures. I’m so grateful for 2019, even the hard days and times of struggle. I now choose to look at the past year and my past as a whole with gratitude- what a vantage point this is!
I’m so blessed to have a zest for life again. I’m so blessed that my life is filled with more JOY than ever. I’m so blessed to have goals again, even though I realize God might change them along the way (which is fine by me)! I am relieved to have passion again. I’m relieved to feel alive again as I walk through life. I’m excited to share 100+ posts in 2020 as I continue this journey! 100+ is one of my commitments for 2020! 🙂
I pray you’ll Surrender to God fully! Perhaps you can only muster up the strength to SURRENDER one area of struggle or control, and that’s okay too! Every step of SURRENDERING is a step in the right direction. We are heading into a New Year, so why not try making this mindset shift?! I pray that you’ll experience HIS plan throughout 2020 and beyond. I pray you’ll join me in this process.
Here’s to a HAPPY NEW YEAR, filled with PEACE, HAPPINESS and CONTENTMENT.
You can experience more of My Surrender Project on Instagram: Surrender_Project