Influence

There is a place for every Man. For every Woman and every child. A place where fears do not follow. A place where dreams become a reality. This place is found. It cannot be made. It cannot be purchased. This place is home. And to everyone, it is available.

 Anonymous

In this day and age, there seems to be a lack of confidence in who man is. I look around and see violence, loneliness and a general indiscretion towards one another. After talking with an old friend the other day, we agreed in the overwhelming sense of entitlement in man. I asked a 5-year old in modern day America why they wouldn’t share their toy with me and I got this in return – “Because it’s mine”. Well alright then. That’s fine and well to have ownership of something. It brings out a healthy dose of pride and accomplishment (or gratitude if it was given to you). But when you take what your have before you and burry it deep in the secure vaults of ownership – possession becomes a dangerous thing.

I bring up the 5-year old situation not to poke at children. How can you get deeply upset at a child? They are a breathing representation of what they see, hear and admire. Oh, and fear makes it’s way as an influencer at some point. But if a growing number of children in our generation fail to grasp core social, moral and physical principles, imagine a world where adults act the same way. Because if no one stands in the gap, I bet that’s the direction the world would take.

When I was a child, I was a sponge to everything around me. Love, anger, dispute, conflict, affection, joy, fear and the list goes on. Nothing has changed really as I approach my mid twenties, except for the fact that I have more choice as to what I want to influence me. Introspective me would say I have a lot of fear and anxiety. Hopeful me would say I’m trying to be a more optimistic and confident person. And the conflict of self carries on as it has since childhood. But at least I get to choose where I buy my coffee each morning.

I mentioned fear and anxiety. Anyone who knows me, who really knows me, will not be surprised to read that being an anxious person has been the haunting of me for a good part of my adult life (granted I’m only 23). However, I know this one thing: the fear that results in my anxious reaction of things (decisions, indecisions and the overall situation of LIFE) will not be a power over me for long. How do I know this? 2 things: 1 is spiritual and the other is experiential. I believe in a power greater than mine – a man named Jesus, his Father and a Ghost named Holy. I also remember a time of life where fear was just a cliff-note in the story of my life. This is the hopeful portion of the dual dichotomy mentioned in the previous paragraph.

There comes a point in every man and  woman’s life where a choice must be made. For some, choice (or the freedom of choice) is a terrifying thing. The fear of letting others, or most likely yourself, down can be an inescapable presence that leads a person to avoid the freedom of choice altogether. We also call this “being indecisive”. That’s a nice way of putting it. This “choice” I am referring to is the collective of decisions one makes (or does not make) resulting in the person you are to be. I remember in grade school, I was so afraid of giving the wrong answer or falling short before others. Because when I did, I felt bad and ashamed almost immediately. “Little me” obviously took that as positive reinforcement NOT to mess up again. But revisiting that process of thought – I kind of wish I would’ve been okay with the failure. There seems to be freedom in that. When looking at it that way, it puts less pressure on making the “right” or “wrong” choice, and rather grants freedom to make the choice you want or need.

That may sound worldly or so generation Y, but what if the choices you made really were reflections of deeper, more influential things. As mentioned before, children reflect what they see, hear, admire or fear. So, if you ask yourself what are the top 5 influential sources in your life – would those influencers line up with what you do or do not choose to do on a daily basis? I would bet yes.

Let’s take the theory of influence and choice mentioned above and use me as an example. Honest me would say the top 5 influential sources in my life today are:

  1. Social Media
  2. Peers
  3. Past Experience
  4. The Bible
  5. Work

I tried to order them by what I currently think have the most influential power. As you can see, it’s a fairly good lineup. Between you and me – I’m not too happy about this list. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked as to how quick it took me to fill 5 blank spaces with what I consider to be the top influencers in Josh’s Choice Playbook.

For a guy who feels fairly lonely in this stage of life, “people” filled my top 2 spots of influence. That is kind of a big shocker! But then again, it was I who filled this list out. I also think it was me who, just the other day, told a friend of mine that I don’t care what people think of me. Hard to believe that statement after looking at this list. And again, this isn’t a sound proof exercise, but the more I soak in it, the more truth I’m seeing.

Let’s move on to number 3, “Past Experience”. I shared that fear has been a thorn in my side for quite a few years. It has been expressing itself openly to me as anxiety for about 2 1/2 years now. It’s been a bumpy relationship. I want to break it off, but for some reason I just cant let her go.

Number 4 – “The Bible”. Religion, spirituality and Christianity can fill this spot as well, because the conglomeration of these has left me hurt, confused, hopeful, more confused and anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I am a wandering soul needing a savior – namely Jesus – but I’ve experienced separation, bitterness, competition and brutality in religion, church and, well, people in general. And I know I’m not the only one. Is this an excuse for the fact this is number 4 on my list? No, absolutely not. But it is where it is and I won’t lie about it. That’s a conversation for another time. What I am saying is this: I want this to be number 1. But it’s evidently not. I think it is good to question the “why” it should be number 1, when all you have heard is that it “should” be number 1 by other people. I view it like this – a beautiful relationship doesn’t tell or demand affection, it gives and receives naturally through an unrelenting love. So really, I suppose I am learning to accept the affection of a savior who gives grace and love freely. “Freely” being the difficult word to swallow.

And finally “Work” and all it’s friends. Nothing has impacted me quite like the transition from student to working 9 hours at a place just to take care of yourself (and loved ones – for you married folk).  It’s good in that it has disciplined me greatly, but if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for in the workplace, I’m quickly realizing that you may become something you never expected. For a generation that seems more confused than ever, we need leaders that instill hope, not just generate excitement.

After writing down my top 5 sources of influence, I sat back and just took a minute. I took time to think about each one of these. I thought about all the social posts I’ve watched and read. I thought about the people close to me, the people I used to know and people I’ve never met but for some reason seem to influence my life’s decisions by means of various technological mediums. I thought about religion – about wars over religion and then I became sad at the thought that I’m not closer in relationship to my creator. And then I thought about work; and the fact that it’s Sunday night and I’ve got to go in the next morning and begin another week with my top 5.

I began this post with a quote. And I want to end it with that same quote. But before I do, there’s one more paragraph that I need to write.

It’s becoming more and more clear that the world I know is changing. It’s changing because of the people leading it. In a room full of talk, the only voices that can be heard are the ones with a microphone or the ones who choose to stay silent and pray. There are good leaders and there are bad leaders; there always have been. But the power of choice was given to us as a human body. I know a lot of you who may be reading this feel lost. You may feel lonely or afraid. It’s so incredibly easy to focus on these things when the influential forces in your life are telling you things you don’t need to hear. It’s time for an adjustment. If your soul is an anchor, whatever it is holding on to will guide you. And if it is good and if it is true, it will guide you home.

 

There is a place for every Man. For every Woman and every child. A place where fears do not follow. A place where dreams become a reality. This place is found. It cannot be made. It cannot be purchased. This place is home. And to everyone…it is available.

 

 

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