As I hobble (due to crutches), through our eighth month of launching imagine/northampton this old man is coming to recognize with increasing amplitude that how I think about what I am experiencing from one day to the next determines the trajectory of my attitude. That trajectory defines the quality of my fidelity to God's call to do this. I realize the weight of attitude afresh these days.
In other words, despite some of the obvious pressures that most in my planting shoes would experience such as the amount of work to be done before we are even up and running, by far, the greatest challenge and perhaps the toughest test resides in my head. If I interpret our considerable struggles as evidence that we should not be doing any of this in the first place, my mental trajectory will head for the basement where feeling sorry for myself wallows unchecked. If I judge my struggles as opportunities for perseverance, innovation, and hope, my trajectory locks on the horizon, and I keep to the trail.
The thing is, I can choose which way to go simply by how I read the circumstances and how I let my feelings weigh in. I'm a feeler more than I like to admit, so my feelings shout at me regularly. They seem to influence my thinking more often when I am heading through rough waters. They want my attitude to be that of a weak-kneed quitter. They quickly jump to the conclusion that abandoning ship is the best course of action and soon. Save yourself, pal!
To the converse, if I read the situation with the attitude of hope and faith-filled optimism, I may still not like the pain or fear I am experiencing, but I refuse to surrender my future to the scoundrels of doubt. I keep my eyes on the horizon, no matter. Tomorrow is a new day and God has not said "Hang it up."
I have to admit I am surprised at the fierceness of this battle over the trajectory of my attitude every day. I knew coming up here would not be a cakewalk, but the sometimes fragility of my attitude from one day to the next has taken me aback. I am presented constantly with choices of which way I will head attitudinally. Some days I can get a few steps ahead of the hounds snapping at my heels; other days they turn me into a meal before I know what happened.
I know am being tested and tried. I feel like I am being fitted for a heavier cross I need to shoulder to follow Jesus in Northampton. It has to do with how much I will give; what cost I will pay; how much I am willing to lose for the Kingdom. My faith has to measure the immensity of the call. The faith I brought here needs conditioning. It has to be able to hold fast to the trajectory of hope and resolve no matter the testing and trial. And I have to die to the trajectory of fear, the trajectory of self-love above all. In fact, I have to die to myself in ways I have never given permission before. It's all in how I see it and what trajectory I will ultimately carry.