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  • Melinda K. Bowens

The moving target...and my bad aim

#BreakingTheCycle: That moving target…and my bad aim

When my little brother and I were younger, we would occasionally make a trip to the arcade together; mostly because we were passing time while our mom flipped through every single item JCPenney had to offer. But my brother was more of the gamer, I just went along for kicks and giggles sometimes. He knew how everything worked, the purpose of every game and all those little cheat codes. I, on the other hand, would go and press the buttons hoping the right thing would happen. We all have our gifts and arcade games was not on my list.

But I did have moderate success (and I use that term ever so loosely) with one game. And that game was Mortal Kombat. I was mostly successful because there was only one joystick and three buttons back then, so I could only mess up so much. Now, my brother was still far better than I ever was, but at least I wasn’t embarrassingly bad. But I do remember the one thing that would make that game (and most games) so much easier—targets that didn’t move all the time! Yes, I know the point of the game was to coordinate moves. But it would have been so much easier for me to think and plan if the target would just stay still! Amrite?!


Now, I certainly didn’t tell that story to hash out my more than 15-year old qualms with Midway Games (the original developers of Mortal Combat), but the moving targets part stuck out to me. Because if middle-school aged me knew that moving targets were a bad idea for success, then why did much older me have such a hard time with this concept??? (Just in case you were wondering, there was no cheat code found for that question.) But I’m also not the only one who has struggled with the life concept of the ever-moving, ever-elusive meaning of success. It’s something that I think we all experience at different points in life; some more often than others (that would be me *waves hands*).

Moving targets (goals, benchmarks, etc…) can notably be so problematic because every time we inch towards what should be a point of accomplishment and/or celebration, the marker moves. So even when we make two steps towards our dream, we’re still just as far away as when we started. Going through that type of cycle more than once is sure to dampen our excitement and enthusiasm about our journey.


Now, it’s unfortunate when someone else is responsible for moving that target away from us. But it is honestly downright cruel when we move that target away from ourselves. Why did I choose the word cruel? Well, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Because when we move our own target, we become both the solution and the problem; leaving us in this weird dance of always trying but never measuring up. And that just sounds stressful.

  2. Because I needed a kick in the right direction myself and I might as well do it while I’m on a roll with this post.

Why do we (sometimes constantly) move our targets further and further away? Well, partly because of comparison and partly because of outside expectations. Today, it is so easy for us to look at someone who is relatively in the same stage of life and wonder if we’re behind because we’re not doing the same things or moving at the same pace. We’re also in a space where maybe we have parents or close people in our lives who want “better” for us than what they had, but their definition of better isn’t fitting our lives.


So, how do we get off this merry-go-round?

Well, two things.

1. Clearly define success and hold tight to your definition. For the believers in Christ, we really don’t have to create our own meaning or target at all; the markers for our lives have already been set.

Jesus replied, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' Matthew 22:37, NLT

Your every action must be done with love. 1 Corinthian 16:14, HCSB

Do everything without complaining and arguing. Philippians 2:14, NLT

"The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these." Mark 12:31 HCSB

And these a just a few references.

2. Accept when you’ve met your definition, but also accept when you miss the mark. Once we have that set standard in our hearts, then we’re able to be anchored in that we believe. From there, we have to be able to genuinely reflect and assess whether we were success or fell short. Either way, we know where we stand and can plan accordingly for our next step.


Chat with God


Which targets do you move most often?


Why do you move those targets and not others?


What is your one sentence prayer in this situation?


Please invite a friend to this series who you think would like to join this journey! Click here!

Get information about my new book here!

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