Why We Resist

Do you ever find it difficult to get along with people? Not your close circle of friends or the happy bank teller, but with the difficult boss or the cranky spouse? It’s so much easier to tell these people “off” or to resist them.

We are seeing it all the time in our world. Rebellions and resistance efforts all advocating for their side of the way things should be. Whether it’s right or wrong, done righteously or self-indulgent, it’s so much easier to rebel than to unify.

I remember as newlyweds, I had a real fire inside. It wasn’t in a bad way all the time but I was much less gentle and a lot more demanding. I was a compulsive complainer and tended to be anxious about everything. I was pretty sure the way I was doing things was the right way and my spouse was just a pain. But over time, I realized that this “going against the grain”, it gets you nowhere.

It was so easy to get mad. It was easy to feel I was right and someone else was wrong. It was easy to not get along with others and to sit quietly in a self-righteous stew. And most of all, to succumb to unity felt like I was giving up my identity and my own ideas. To sit quietly felt like weakness instead of strength. But I learned quickly that sometimes the one that’s quiet, the one that admits they’re wrong, they are truly the ones with all the strength.

We went to the state fair a few years back and I saw they had a set of ox that were yoked together. If one ox tried to go in the other direction than the other, it was near impossible. They would start to flail and buck in place. The yoke forced them together and to move around, they had to go together, step by step in unity.

This observation is not only a great picture in marriage or working relationships, but for our country and world. We can choose to kick and buck under the yoke but ultimately we will get nowhere and be more frustrated than when we started. It is imperative that we work together. And working together doesn’t mean we always agree. But it does mean we are walking together toward a common goal for a common purpose.

There is infinite power in unity.

 

Photo credit: http://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=mxN1TeVs&id=44E4FBCB624F53BA0EE60A43F25457831342781A&q=unity&simid=607999179552065280&selectedIndex=122&ajaxhist=0

WHEN THEY GET WHAT YOU WANTED

It’s been a personal struggle of mine for a while, albeit, one that seems to improve over time. But isn’t it challenging, when you see a friend get the job you wanted, you felt YOU deserved, or when someone got a promotion at work that YOU felt you worked so hard for? The list goes on… their car, their kids, their spouse, just seems BETTER?

I think with social media, the problem of “coveting” or wishing we had what we don’t have, has only gotten worse. We see pictures on Facebook and Instagram and somehow think that’s a glimpse of reality; sometimes it is, mostly it’s not.

In my own life, I remember being really envious of someone I had worked with in the past who seemed to be so financially well off. No student loans, no obligations, just doing (according to my mind) really well. And I had such a hard time NOT resenting this person. I thought about how many menial jobs I’d worked in high school and even in college, and thought, how dare you be doing better than me when you didn’t work as hard? But see, all those statements I made up in my head (because they aren’t the truth) were all just inferences I had made. I don’t know his struggles, I don’t know how hard he worked or his story. I’m just making snap judgments to make myself feel self-righteous. But I’ve been there, and I know that it can be so challenging to truly say, “I’m happy for you.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to say that phrase–even when I didn’t mean it yet. Because I realized, we aren’t all competing with each other, we are empowering one another to bigger and better things. When I stopped viewing others as a “competitor” in a race to “greatness” or “success”, I started helping them, seeing them as humans with flaws. We all have struggles, even if they are silent ones. I also realized how grateful I was to have them in my life, and for all the blessings I have every day, that my envious spirit was blinding me to. When I focused on what I had an my own abilities, I became more self-aware than outward focused. By doing so, I become more friendly, joyful, a better peer and friend.

So appreciate all you have, don’t worry about the competition. You aren’t in a race against others, only for your personal goals.

The Struggle

Struggle. It’s a word that I feel I’ve become very familiar with, as has my family. The word isn’t exclusive to us, I think many are, or have been, in the same boat. But for the past ten years, on and off, it’s been incredibly challenging and, if I can “let loose” I’d say that this word is pretty accurate. Sometimes I think we like to pretend that we don’t struggle, that life comes effortlessly, and we are perfect; we have perfect families, perfect homes, perfect financial situations and perfect health. And there are moments when our peers fool us, and we believe that, somehow, we are the only imperfect ones, the only ones going through hard times. But that would be a lie. The Jones’ aren’t real, and they struggle too.

When my mother left, I was about sixteen and my sister was eleven. Not only did she abandon the family, but, with that, she abandoned all her obligations, including financially. Although my dad was a professional engineer with a great job, she had left him with a mountain of debt that she never told anyone about. So we went from being somewhat upper middle class Americans to, being house poor and faking it. We started shopping at discount stores, we didn’t buy as many groceries as we once did. It wasn’t to say we were destitute, but life had definitely changed. I remember feeling like I needed to contribute so I picked up a job as a hostess at the local Italian restaurant where I worked for about three years. We all started hustling and grinding, just trying to make it through and not knowing what other disaster might arise. I didn’t go hang out with friends much, we worked nonstop. When I wasn’t working, I was at school. There weren’t all the little “extras”, like shopping with mom for school clothes or getting your hair cut every two months. It was just survival. Can you relate?

Now I’m not complaining at all. The experience that I had, that was born out of a horrible situation taught me mental toughness, coping abilities, and work ethic. It was what molded my personality and shaped me. However, I understand that a lot of people feel this struggle. With our economy trying to recover, with baby boombers not retiring and a flood of college studuents entering to the job market, it’s changed the financial landscape for many.  Our nation is trying to get back to its roots and  health, I think it’s indicative of what many of us feel. The car breaks down, the vet bills pile up, we have an argument with our spouse, we lose or change jobs…all these things are part of that life season of “struggle”.

I know I have moments where I ask God when that time will be up? When it’ll feel normal again. Because just starting out as a newly married couple, as cool as it sounds, it’s a huge adjustment. I see the posts on Facebook where everyone smiles and they go on a romantic Jamaican cruise, but that is not us. And logic tells me that someone else probably paid for that cruise, or it’s paid for on “plastic”; that the facades we see on social media, many times, just aren’t real. But do you feel that way? When you’re going through the grind, work piles up, and the dishwasher breaks, you feel like it’s just you going through it?

I can assure you, it isn’t just you. We all undergo tough situations where we question ourselves, question our decisions. Did we make the right move? Did we pray enough? Did we think through the decision the right way? It’s like we think that the struggle is somehow always our fault, and sometimes, it’s simply life taking it’s course.

The struggle, it’s not always a bad thing. Webster’s dictionary defines struggle as: “to make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction”. It is synonymous with to “fight, grapple, or wrestle”. These aren’t always bad words. Sometimes a fight is worth it, sometimes breaking free and loosing yourself, is a good thing. So when you feel like it’s just you today struggling, trying to break free, know that it’s not; we all struggle and grapple with things in our lives. And don’t stop trying to break free, to keep fighting, keep wrestling, and striving forward. Because you don’t know what’s on the other side if you give up. You don’t see the progress you’re making in the wrestling match; but you’re doing it, and little by little, you’re gaining ground. Keep taking one step at a time; your struggle is worth the fight.

Why Transitions Are So Difficult

I recently went through a transition, a change. I’d been in a certain employment position for almost 4 years, I’d started the Monday after I’d graduated college. When I’d started, I’d thought that I’d found something I’d being doing for a long time. But what we don’t realize, is that as we grow, we change, our desires and what we want out of life changes…Here’s the good news; that’s totally okay! It is 100% okay to not fully enjoy what you are doing and to find what you like more. It’s okay to leave a friendship that isn’t right for you or a job that doesn’t fulfill like it used to. Sometimes, it’s God’s way of saying, there’s something better. 

Now this doesn’t mean that at the time you’d started on a particular path, that it wasn’t right for you then. Life, like nature, has seasons. There are so many lessons we learn from each experience that we take with us, people we meet that shape us, and a greater understanding of ourselves. But when that season is over, and you haven’t moved on to fall because you enjoyed summer so much, you end up missing on the next part of life, the richness fall could bring to your life, because you’re holding on to a season that is over.

The reason why I think transition and change is so hard for us, is because we like the familiar, the old, the comfy and the perceived “safe”. I have a family member who has a particular chair that is falling a part, but he won’t part with it, because “that’s his chair”, he’s always used it so why would he pitch it? We assume all change is bad, it’s going to be worse, because as our survival instincts kick in, they tell us, “stay safe”, “don’t try something new”. Even at certain restaurants that I frequent, I have a hard time trying a different menu item, because I already know what I like. We all get accustomed to our habits, and creature comforts.

As human beings, we don’t “do” change. But I’ve found that the more I give in to what lies ahead in the future, the less I cling to comfort, the more happy and joyful I become. I’ve given in to what my talents are, I’m not trying to make myself something I’ll never be. There’s a distinct role that we all play in life, and the world needs you to play your part. A screw driver can’t do the job of a wrench, not one is better than the other, they don’t compete for who looks more prestigious. But when you need a particular tool, you’re so glad you have what you need and that they don’t all become wrenches! In the same way, if we fight the changes in life, the seasons that are meant to center us, to bring us back to who we truly are, then we miss out. We truly miss out on our joy in life, because only our distinct gifts will truly fulfill us; living in the talents we were given.