There is so much of our lives that we can’t control. I could not control the snow that made my morning commute over an hour this morning. I had to deal with it. I cannot control the forces in the world that is making working in a mainline denomination so challenging these days. So what am I going to do? One approach is to hope that the circumstances are not what they really are. I have seen that one a lot. We have had 40 years of decline as a denomination, and there is this sense we can keep going on as we have been without anything fundamentally changing. The economic crisis of 2008 revealed how critical the situation really is. So now what? How do we deal?
So when life throws stuff at us, those are simply the facts. They are not good or bad, they just are. What gives those events power, is the story we tell about what is happening. Sometimes it is a victim story:why does it always snow during commuting hours. Or we tell a villain story. The weather gods are out to get me. Or the most common one I see, a learned helpless story: I can’t drive in snow so I have to stay home.
Ok, maybe those are silly examples…but you get the idea. Each of those stories don’t help us deal effectively with our circumstances. They keep us stuck. So what is a better way to deal?
I am a big believer in responsibility. We each have an ability to respond to the stuff life throws at it. We can’t stop it. We can’t always change it. But we can choose how we will respond to it, and what I find time after time, is if I am willing to face the truth of my circumstances, there are things that are within my control and I can influence. I am not as helpless as I think I am. Taking responsibility actually gives me strength to do more than I think I can.
So what is coming at you right now? What story are you telling about it? Is it a helpful story that is giving you courage to stand in the face of challenging circumstances and even more the strength to respond so that the circumstances don’t completely dictate your reality.