An Australian woman named Bronnie Ware spent several years as a nurse in palliative care, focusing on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Many times, she would tend to the needs of dying patients, and would often ask them if they had any regrets or would do anything differently. The most common regret of all was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“Blessing, not permission. Blessing, not permission. Support, not permission,” I told myself again and again. Mom sat at the kitchen table. It was a balmy afternoon in July and I sat down beside her. I was twenty four – an adult – but I was leaving the country for a year. Though I was an adult, I knew she’d still be upset.
“Mom, I’ve decided to go on the World Race. It’s an eleven month trip and it leaves in January. I know it’s probably not your first choice for me, but I’d really love your support in this.” Then, I waited.
A minute passed before she spoke up. “No… I really don’t think you should do this,” she said. “I know, mom,” I replied. “But I’m not asking for your permission. I’ve already decided I’m going.”
“How much is it? How will you raise all that money?” She asked.
“I don’t know. I have no idea. I just know I will.”
“I just don’t know about this,” she said.
“I know you don’t, mom. I know.”
Daily, I speak with 20-somethings who desire in their heart for something greater. Usually, they’re only inquiring about greatness, just feeling out what that would be like. As I tell them the incredible things people are doing all over the world, and that God is waiting for them to hop on board, I feel their head spinning. Usually their reaction begins with a soft, revelatory, drawn out “woow………”
Then, not always, but often, they respond, “That sounds so amazing… But I don’t know what my parents would do if I tried to take a risk like that.” Or, “I would really love to leave my job for something I love, but my dad would kill me if I actually did.” Or, “I feel like I’m supposed to do something great but my friends would think I’m crazy.”
These aren’t kids saying this. They’re not college students, either. Most of the time, they’re not even in their early twenties. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight-year-olds, worried about their parents or friends disapproval.
The greatest regret of dying patients was that they worried too much about what others thought of them. Eventually, it kept them from living a life fully themselves.
Those truly seeking to bring Heaven to Earth will face one certainty: you’ll often be misunderstood. One way to know whether you’re living for the greatness for which you were created is by counting the detractors in your life. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet you are not of the world, but I chose you out of this world.”
I returned home from the World Race nearly two years ago. Since asking for her blessing, not her permission, she’s been one of my biggest supporters.
There are those who do not desire for you to live a great story. God is not one. Take courage, live a life true to yourself.