During my last few weeks on The Bachelor, feelings of fear and anxiety constantly swirled through my thoughts, and not having my friends and family around to help me make big decisions was getting harder and harder. Have you ever felt that lump in your throat — the kind that stays there when you are really nervous? Let’s just say that lump never really went away the last two weeks I was on the show. I felt like there was so much at stake, and I felt so alone. But after forty days without talking to my family, I was relieved that the day had finally arrived: hometowns. Hometown dates are for the last four girls remaining on the show. They invite the Bachelor to their hometowns to meet their families and see where they grew up.
When Peter arrived in Auburn, I was able to show him around all my favorite spots, especially the Auburn basketball arena. I showed off some of my mad basketball skills. He was majorly impressed. Peter attempted to show me some of his dribbling skills, but it resulted more in laughter than competition. It was so fun.
Then it was time for Peter to meet my family! He would finally see me surrounded by my people. So many thoughts went through my head. I couldn’t wait to see them, but I wondered, “Will they like him? Will they approve?” I had always gone to my parents for wisdom, advice, and direction. Not being able to get their insight for forty days had been brutal. I didn’t know what to expect, and I couldn’t wait to hug them.
When Peter and I arrived at my parents’ house, I was a little nervous. But as soon as I saw my parents, my fear started to dissipate. The evening was full of sweet tea, hard questions, long hugs, and a lot of tears.
This night brought a lot into perspective for me. I have always valued the wisdom and advice of those older than me, especially my parents. I knew the conversations that night wouldn’t be easy. I knew my parents would challenge me and test our relationship to see if it was grounded, unshakable, and rooted in the right things. When the night ended, leaving my parents was hard; I didn’t want to separate from them again, especially when I knew I had big decisions to make. I had a week before I would see Peter again for the next rose ceremony. I knew I needed to take the week to pray about everything I had talked about with my parents.
Often in life it’s easy to do whatever feels good or is easy or convenient. We like to stay in our comfort zones, and opening ourselves up to challenges is hard because sometimes that means our comfort, expectations, hopes, and dreams are questioned. It would have been easy to be shut off to my parents’ feedback. I could have told myself, “They just don’t understand. They haven’t been with me through this experience.” But I knew they offered the wisdom and perspective I needed.
To be ready for the moments that require us to step out in courage, we have to walk with the wise.
We don’t need only people who are on our level and walking beside us; we need one or more people who are already up ahead of us who are willing to share the wisdom of what they have experienced and the mistakes they have made along the way. Find someone who is doing what you want to do; follow them, listen, and learn. The more you learn from these people, the more you become like them.
Maybe you have heard some of these sayings: “Well, if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” or “Walk with the wise — become wise!” But maybe you have never known whom and how to follow. You just liked whomever you liked and chose to spend time with those people. So let’s talk about a step you can take that will help you walk with the wise.
Seek out leaders in your field and ask questions and take notes. The best way to grow is to surround yourself with those who are already steps ahead of you in the area or season you are in. The best teachers were once the best students. The best athletes, doctors, politicians, and world leaders were once learners and trainees. They understood that to be the best, they needed to learn from the best. Learn as much as you can. Ask a lot of questions. Take a lot of notes. Be open to being challenged. Find a mentor to meet with you, whether in person or virtually. It could be a parent, pastor, teacher, or leader. Mentorship will take you to the next level. Ask yourself these questions:
- Whom do I look up to?
- Am I teachable? Am I willing to grow? Can I truly allow someone to speak into my life and challenge me?
- Which voices speak into my life the most
Have you ever paused to take a look at your environment? What does that environment look like? Some of us are in unhealthy environments that distract us or detract from us. Some of us are in environments that don’t do much of anything for us, neither making us better nor worse. Others of us are in environments that challenge us and inspire us to be all that God has called us to be. Your environment matters and has a bigger impact on who you are and who you are becoming than you might realize. Your environment can limit your growth or help launch you to your purpose.
When I think back to the good ole days when my dad coached me in basketball, he was a firm believer in this principle: environment matters. Every summer tournament, he would set us up to play the hardest teams in the area. We were a 3A private school in Alabama playing 6A public schools in Georgia. Let me tell you, we were definitely the underdogs of every tournament. But that didn’t intimidate or stop my dad. He liked putting us in environments that would challenge us and stretch us. During the season, my dad would have us scrimmaging against the boys’ basketball team. Why did he 9 do all this? He knew it would make us better.
You don’t grow by playing it safe. You grow, you improve, and you learn when you surround yourself with people who are better than you and when you seek out environments that challenge you.
If we choose environments that limit us, we will never reach our full potential! We need environments that will challenge our thinking, that inspire our living, that push us to see the greatness within ourselves and help pull it out of us. Your environment matters.
Ask yourself these two questions and answer honestly:
- Do I feel challenged by my environment
- Do I feel like I am consistently getting better, staying stagnant, or digressing backward?
If you want immediate results, go alone. If you want lasting results, go with others. We aren’t made to do life alone; we are stronger and better together, but who the others are matters. Cultivate relationships with people who push you to be better.
The right kind of people will always leave you wanting to be the best you can be.
Since your external surroundings influence your inner character, you would be wise to check your surroundings to see if they reflect who you want to be. To be ready for the tough moments of life, it is important to have the right people preparing you, pushing you, and praying for you. You have to be careful with what you allow into your life because it will influence everything: what you value, your decisions, how you view yourself, and how you see the world. The people in your life will either push you toward your purpose or distract you from your purpose. The good news is you get to decide.
Excerpted with permission from Made for This Moment by Madison Prewett, copyright Madison Prewett.
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Environment matters! Who are you being mentored by? Who are you listening to? Who are you getting your wisdom from? God directs us to stay away from fools and seek wisdom. We get to live life on purpose! Let’s do it!