According to Wikipedia, one definition of the word "Goal" is "A goal or objective is a desired result a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve—a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.
We all set different goals in life, some people use the words goals and dreams in the same context, or even as symonyms, and for some that may very well be a good thing. "My dream is to become a famous soccer player, and my goal is to do it by the time I turn 20". See if you are a reasonably coordinated, able bodied, athletic person, the combination of "dream and goal" may not be a bad idea at all. Goals and dreams have to be realistic. The reality of life is probably that most of us at some point have had to alter our goals, dreams, or both.
This weekend was the annual Sportsability event for Florida Disabled Outdoors Association. (check out fdoa.org for more info). Sportsability is an awesome event, that offers people with all kinds of disabilities the opportunity to try things they never dreamed of trying before. It allows for people, who may not otherwise get out a lot, to come out and enjoy nature, and to socialize. The reason why I am writing about goals and dreams is that there are infinitely many types of disabilities, some physical, some mental, some progressive, some stationary, and some that affect only one body part while the rest of the body is not affected. These different disabilities all require different goals.
I met an extremely inspirational person this weekend. She was the key note speaker at the opening banquet Thursday night, as well as at an exhibit Friday. I had the chance not only to enjoy her presentation in which she told us all how she had overcome her disability to become an Ironman (no, not the cartoon character, but a Triathlete), but I also had the opportunity to speak to her for a little while both Thursday and Friday, what an incredible person!. Her disability is, that at age 6 or 7 she had her left leg amputated. The challenges she is facing every single day are tremendous, and yet she gets up with her head held high, sets goals, and reaches them somehow or another. It took her years to train for her ironman as she did not know how to ride a bike, or how to swim, she had to learn both, and managed to do so. She did not finish the ironman in her first attempt as she ran out of time, but on her second attempt she was successful. What a relentless fighter!
I couldn't help but think about the similarities and differences between the two of us. In many ways we are very similar, I have a feeling that we both have a slight hint of stubbornness, none of us like being told that we can't do something, and we are very close to each other in age. However, the differences are what really made me think. Despite missing a leg, the rest of her body does not have any challenges, so once she solved the swimming/biking issue, it turned into a question of training, a lot of training I am sure. However, she was able to set a goal, have a dream, and achieve both. When you suffer from a progressive degenerative disease, your goal setting is totally different, and to be honest, dreams are something of the past, all that ever happens is that they shatter! Goal setting for people with MD or other progressive diseases, often become goals of just making it through the day, the week, the month, the year without a complete loss of mobility, independence, and (this may sound harsh but to me it feels very real) human dignity. Those goals aren't goals, they are the harsh reality, when I go to bed every night, I fear that the next morning may be the morning where I can no longer do _____ (fill in the blank). I know we could all be hit by a truck tomorrow and become disabled, or even die, and I have been told that the fear I feel every night (and day) is a fear I should let go of. But, I am pretty certain I have mentioned something similar to this before, but most people have a fairly reasonable chance of not being hit by the infamous truck, and thus they are able to go about their day and set their goals and follow their dreams.
When being diagnosed with a disease, such as MD, you have to learn to reevaluate your goals and to recreate dreams, but it is hard, because we always want what we can't have. My only dream and goal in life is to beat MD, it is actually an all or nothing proposition, and I will more than likely never be able to achieve neither the goal nor the dream. Creating new goals and dreams is a lot harder than you might imagine, especially because the grass is always greener on the other side. I have always enjoyed helping people, and I have been encouraged to follow that dream, but I tend to put myself down, simply because there will always be an able bodied person out there I will not be able to compete with simply because 60% (or more) of his/her time is not spent on just "being". By being I mean that it is not spent on taking forever to walk from a parking lot into a store, or putting on shoes, it takes me upwards of five minutes if Tom is not around! (I like flip flops by the way), I think you all get the picture here. Setting goals and creating dreams is just incredibly hard when most of your time is already accounted for, and most of the rest (at least that is the case with me) is spent on worrying about what's next!
I am in the process of working on getting rid of my all or nothing mentality, but I am not very good at it, it may be the hint of stubbornness mixed with some strange idea I have in my head that in order for me to set and reach goals, and to follow dreams I will have to be able bodied. I don't know. Either way, goal setting is different for all of us, and if I were to only set realistic goals I might as well curl up into a little ball and roll over in a corner.
Giving my life over to Christ is probably the only answer, and I do try, but I think my human side (or my flesh as the Apostle Paul, and Todd so eloquently express it), is very powerful. My desire to beat MD has basically become a form of idolatry that should be fought. But tonight in church, Todd said that fighting it is really not the most important issue as once you really give up your life, the fight will no longer be necessary.
This should console me, but it doesn't always, as giving my life completely to the will of God, would bind me to accept and embrace the life I have been given, and that, my dear friends, can at times be harder than you might think.