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The other night I went to bed after praying with my husband for a pain to subside that I had been having for some time. The next morning, I awoke for the first time in four weeks to no pain. Amazed, I wondered if our prayer was stronger this time. Or could it be that the pain had just run its course? Why did God allow the pain to subside this time?

These are questions for which I have no answer. All I knew for sure was that this particular battle was over, and that as we prayed about it that night, we imagined that the pain would leave. We had a vision for the outcome.

I often tell the story of Victor Frankl who was held in three prison camps during World War II, including Auschwitz and Dachau. As I remember it, even as he lived the horror, he constantly envisioned himself in the future dressed in a nice suit, standing in a paneled room and telling of his horrific experience. Daily, he imagined his freedom, even while being held captive in a tortuous situation. He did eventually stand in front of a group of people sitting in a paneled room to tell his story.

One of our sons, now grown with a wife and children of his own, went through some rough times as a teenager. When I wasn’t sure what to do, I would imagine him dressed in a suit as a grown man talking to an audience. I would find myself treating him as that grown man in the midst of those difficult times. On my son’s thirtieth birthday, I had the awesome experience of seeing that dream come true as he stood in a beautiful room at his church, dressed in a suit and offering words of encouragement to a group of homeless people. What a joy for me to live that moment!

After Walt Disney died, a friend of his was taking a gentleman on a tour of Disney World, which was built in what had been a desolate area of Florida. The visitor commented to Disney’s friend that it was a shame Disney didn’t live to see this. The friend replied, “Oh, but he did see it. That’s why it’s here!”

Take a moment to ponder this question: how do you envision your children, your students, and yourself 10 or 20 years from now?

There is research that says the only difference between successful and unsuccessful students is whether or not they have a vision for the future. I heard a speaker say once that as a result of that research, he would never pass up a chance to ask a young person what he was going to do when he grew up. He figured even if the young person hadn’t thought about it, the question might make him think about it. Then the young person would move into that successful group of students who have a vision for the future.

There is an undeniable connection between what we believe about the future and how we act. Our beliefs affect our thoughts, our actions, and our results.

As my husband and I prayed that night, we both had a mindset for my pain to disappear. This type of thinking is not always the catalyst for receiving the answer we desire, since God does have the final say. But having a mindset—a vision—sure seems to affect how we think, act, and feel. And more often than not, it seems to bring a positive result.

It is unquestionable that having a vision sustained Victor Frankl during his struggle. Walt Disney’s vision undoubtedly transformed central Florida into a virtual garden of fun for people. Having a vision certainly helped my pain, and it also helped me to remain hopeful—and act accordingly—as our son faced the struggles I mentioned earlier.

At Victus Study Skills System, we ask students to ponder their vision for their future. They answer the question, “What will you be doing in five or ten years?” and illustrate their answer with a drawing. We want their vision instilled firmly because we believe that consistent, persevering actions in academics and in life flow from having a vision.

I encourage you to discuss these questions with your child, and to write down your vision for your children and for yourself. Encourage your children to write down their vision for themselves and share it with you so that you can pray for them and cheer them on in their pursuit of it. Remind them that when they write it down, they give themselves the opportunity to return to it later to tweak it, improve it, and be encouraged by their progress.

One of our most exciting roles as parents and teachers is to inspire our students to identify their vision for their lives. This is a wonderful time of year to share our vision and our dreams with our loved ones so that we can cheer one another on.

May you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas!