Within many of us is a deep rooted desire to do something of importance and significance in life. As Christian’s, often that will mean going down a path that other people, unbelievers and Christians alike, may not understand and may even criticize. When we pursue the path God has for us, and the dreams and goals He has laid on our heart, often we will be met with resistance in the form of difficult circumstances, or criticism and even rejection by other people.
Human nature is to want and desire the approval of other people, each of us to varying degrees. When we are met with disproval or criticism over the path we have chosen in life, sometimes it can be easy to get discouraged and question our decisions. Couple that with obstacles that must be overcome, and the temptation to throw in the towel will most certainly present itself at some time. It is at that point that we have a decision to make:
Will I allow the opinions of other people and less than perfect circumstances to dictate what I do in life, or will I continue to push onward?
At the age of 17, I was getting back into martial arts after a 2 1/2 year break. I was extremely excited about the path I believed God had set me on to pursue my black belt and teach karate as a ministry. And it seemed that every time I turned around, there was some new evidence of God’s hand at play. I was beyond excited, but it was to my dismay that instead of other people echoing my excitement, many were very critical. This criticism bore hurtful dynamics such as my family being rejected by people, treated badly, and talked about behind our backs. It just didn’t make sense to me. Here I was, completely pumped up about a vision I believed God had given me, and yet I was being met with negativity from people whom I thought were friends and would be excited as well. These types of situations weighed heavily on me, and at times seemed to suck the very energy out of me; but with the encouragement of my awesome parents, I knew that changing my course because of other people’s opinions was not an option! After having to push through a number of logistical difficulties, my brother Chris and I were able to test for and receive our black belts. One and a half years later, we started a free local karate class for children with our church acting as host. God was there every step of the way, working every detail out, and showing that it was only because of HIM that we were able to reach these goals. Because of that, I know with absolute certainty that we are in His will. What seemed at times to be impossible or was regarded as having little worth to some people, God has made possible, and is showing that it is indeed worthwhile. (If you want to read more about my journey to black belt, you can do so here and here.)
My point in briefly sharing the above story was to hopefully demonstrate that I understand and know what it feels like to pursue something under difficult circumstances and a lack of support from the people around you. The good thing about difficult circumstances is that each situation presents the opportunity to learn something new to take forward into the future. What I learned from the above experience is just because other people are critical or don’t see the value in what you are doing, doesn’t mean you need to change course.
If we want to pursue God and the plan He has for us, those of us who are the dreamers, doers, and wannabe world changers WILL experience criticism and even sabotage from other people who don’t agree or understand our path. What each of us must realize is that it isn’t the opinions of others or the challenges we face that define us. We are defined by how we redeem the time, resources, opportunities, and talents God has entrusted to us.
If you have a God given dream, goal, or path you want to pursue, go after it! Please don’t let circumstances hold you back and the opinions of others discourage you and make you waver. I believe, that if God has called us to something, it doesn’t matter what that may be, we need to pursue it with our whole hearts and when our strength dwindles, have faith that He will renew it and carry us forward.
It doesn’t matter what the dream is and the obstacles that come with it, if God is for us, ultimately the only person who can stop us is ourselves.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31