The other day I was walking into one of my favorite stores, Target, to get supplies for Mary’s homemade floral centerpieces for Easter. I have walked in that store thousands of times, but this time was different. As I looked at the huge bright red Target symbol I thought about my life, the conversations with Mary, a friend, Mary’s friends, and Sam.
When I was young I would say I was ON TARGET for the bulls-eye. I finished high school with a high GPA, went to college and got my Bachelors in Nursing before I got married (hit the bulls-eye), I got married to an incredible honorable, Godly man (hit the bulls-eye), and landed an amazing job as a floor nursing job in Oncology (hit the bulls-eye). HOWEVER, none of those BULLS-EYES happened without many hours of practice and time commitment, many broken arrows as road-blocks appeared, many sleepless nights, and definitely not without prayer after prayers (said for myself and said by others for me). I also have not always landed on the BULLS-EYE because of a variety of reasons.
First, I think about the bulls-eye I set that we would have 6 children. However, after a miscarriage, years of infertility, and then very high-risk pregnancy, my target had to change. My bulls-eye became to love the children we were richly blessed with and not focus on the number.
I think about my bulls-eye that I took chances with including a job in Pittsburgh with an approximate 2.5 hour drive one-way with rush hour traffic. I didn’t calculate the hours away from my husband and daughter. Some targets cost more than we calculate they will. I didn’t consider all the consequences. God still blessed the job thru a bedrest for our son. However, after he arrived I had to pull out the arrows and start shooting for the next job to best meet our family.
However, here I am sitting again. Contemplating life’s decisions. Wondering where my next set of arrows should go. Really, I am going to be 48 years old and I am contemplating where I should be next in my life. I thought I would be further along in some areas of my life. But life has happened and in some big ways! I have hit the target sometimes, but many times feel like the arrows miss the target completely or were not shot with enough passion to land strongly so hit and bounce off. I had a friend, who is a little younger, recently who said the same thing to me – by now they thought they would have grown up and knew what they wanted. I have recently been challenged by hearing someone talk how they changed jobs based on God’s leading. I am learning to work on that God’s will. Some maybe surprised by that because I was raised in the church; however, it is easier to fax the motions. Honestly, I am guilty of taking the leap and praying for God’s blessing after the fact (thankfully He has!)
The interesting thing for me is when I listen to my daughter and her friends as they struggle over the quiver of arrows they have. They have career decisions, relationship decisions, school decisions, financial decisions, etc. The irony is they hear and feel so much pressure to shoot those arrows and hit the bulls-eye the very first time. Some pressure comes from society about picking the perfect career path, the perfect college, etc. A friend at work is detailing to me the pressure her daughter is feeling as a Junior to visit schools, the essays for applications, the SAT scores, and the need to hire a private college prep advisor (or some crazy title) to be sure to have the BEST. I said but she is a Junior and may change her mind. Her mom is total agreement, but the pressure from the school and the peers are driving her decision. So, her mom caves in too and keeps shooting the arrows, paying the money, and at the students young age, it is likely to be a long time before a bulls-eye is hit. The other unfortunate thing is as a society, we often expect everyone to follow a certain sequence and fit in. If you don’t fit in, you will know it quickly with a social media post, as people will pass judgement. We plant just enough judgement to make people question their aim and their target.
Honestly, every day, I can tell you the targets I have missed as a mom, a wife, a friend, etc. I want to give them so much more than I do. I am not just talking material things, but miss the mark with quality time, encouragement, love languages, etc. Every day, I shoot poisoned arrows at myself, unfortunately they often land on target of my heart and my head.
Sometimes my bulls-eye has not been within the will of God, not best for me, not best for our family. But I get so stubborn and determined to succeed in what I started that I wouldn’t stop trying. Sometimes I get so mad and cry and I break and stomp on the arrows. Although they seemed like wasted arrows and time it is all part of the learning process.
So here a little advice, inspired by Target, and good for me and anyone else who needs to hear this!
It is not a sign of weakness to have to remove the arrows and try to shoot again! I have done this time and again with jobs. If college is what you believe you wanted and realized it is not a good fit, remove and re-shoot. If the degree you choose is not what you expected, remove and re-shoot. If the guy you met on a dating app isn’t a good fit, remove and re-shoot. If the job isn’t the best fit, remove and re-shoot. HOWEVER, while you are in the outside of the target, learn all you can from the situation, because they may, in fact, lead you to the next target.
For the arrows not landing in the bulls-eye, step back and evaluate why they didn’t Is it truly God’s plan/will for your life or is it the plan you made and just hoped God would bless it. Is it the best fit for you (and your family)? I truly believe for me I don’t always land on the eye because God is protecting me because I may not be ready for that yet. Protecting me because it is outside of His will for my life, and He definitely has a better view of my life than I do.
It is okay to not land on the bulls-eye, sometimes hitting within the big target is fine. I feel like this is where I am now. I am still in Nursing (my career target), but not sure I shouldn’t have a few arrows on the target. It may take me shooting a few more arrows and they may all stay within the big target, but never the bulls-eye. I believe it is okay to settle. I know of someone who wanted to be a high-profile job, but wanted to be a mom more, so is settling for a different path.
You may not hit the bulls-eye the first time or every time I shoot. Life is a big practice field. I feel like the areas where I landed on the bulls-eye were times I was truly within the will of God. I think I often don’t hit the first time because I often don’t wait for God’s direction for my life. I gather all my arrows, mark the target with MY goal, and just start shooting. Often, those arrows fall to the ground defeated. Sometimes I pick back up and keep shooting at that stupid target determined to make it work, yet remain outside of where I am meant to be. God can still take the mess and bless it.
Sometimes you land on the bulls-eye, but the win does not feel as good as I expected. Again, I think this is when I thought I knew what the target was but it wasn’t as glorious as I thought it would be. Sometimes, I believe I wound others with my flying arrows getting to the bulls-eye and realize the casualties I caused also was not worth hitting the eye
Are your arrows falling short from the whole target? Often that is when my strength is low. Lately, this has been my spiritual strength. I think of the Bible story of Moses who would get so tired holding up his arms that his friends came and lifted them for him. How many times do I not ask for my friends to lift my arms to position the arrows. Some goals/targets are not meant to be reached alone. Maybe it is saying come help or say a prayer for me. My Grandma Frazee would always quote her favorite Bible Verse Philippians 4:13 that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Strength from others is not going to happen unless I admit I need it and ask.
Are there too many distractions preventing you from hitting the target? Do I listen to the negative voices in my head talk to me while I shoot (the voices say – Sheri do you realize how often you miss, are you sure this is what you really want, you are not good enough, you are not pretty enough, you are too weak, etc…). I also get distracted by the criticism and expectations of others. Just because someone tells me what target I should hit, does not mean I have to listen to them? I need to sometime tell people to just whisper or be silent unless I ask for their guidance.
Are you letting a list of excuses stand in the way of hitting the target? This could be my target for my health is a healthy weight, but the excuses for not exercising and eating right is long! I love to read books but somehow never hit the target of reading all the books I want. Project after project I have listed in my notebook and time after time I let something else get in the way. All the times I need to figure out just the next arrow to shoot – the next step to take – and I make an excuse or procrastinate. The infamous one is often I have too many things to do, my calendar is too full, etc. when in reality I just don’t spend my time wisely. I also miss shooting arrows because I keep procrastinating (UGH).
Is timing and/or distance the issue? Maybe I need to not shoot to hit the bulls-eye so quickly and appreciate that landing within the target can give beautiful learning experience. Maybe I need to slow down and not make the decision on the target/bull’s eye without considering all the consequences and costs. Maybe by rushing to make the decision I am missing out on the best target for me. Maybe I am too close the bulls-eye and not looking at the big picture. Maybe I am standing too far away to see it clearly. It may take a little more time to move closer or further away, but the time and distance can offer clarity when I just focus on shooting the arrows.
Am I too busy look at someone else’s target that I am missing mine? Or maybe too busy comparing my target to “her target” and what she has, etc… that I can’t see mine before me. I think we all have that perfect person, confirmed through social media. If you don’t have one person to compare yourself to, you can visit Pinterest and feel less of a mom, a wife, a homemaker, a professional, etc.. as pictures and pictures of perfection flood the pages. God has a plan, a target, for each of us! When we compare, we rob ourselves of an amazing blessing, and will never hit OUR bulls-eye!
Everyday we can learn from where our arrows have currently landed (jobs, education, friendships, etc.) Every arrow we shoot is one step closer to the bulls-eye. I am learning, you are never too old to remove some arrows and re-shoot them. I love watching my daughter and her friends shoot their arrows and I love praying for them to land exactly where they were meant to land. My only regret is in all my arrows is that I have not covered them in prayer before shooting them. The beautiful thing is, God still turned them all into learning opportunities and blessings.
One thing I know for sure – every day God gives us a new set of mercies (Lamentations 3:23) – a new set of arrows to shoot and a new target.