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.
So I was listening to this Jillian Michaels podcast. Her director, Janice, was talking about how she has this image of the perfect home she will someday have, and that keeps her from inviting anyone over to her current home. She was playing all sorts of tapes in her head about people not wanting to come, her house or life not being what it should be. You get the idea.
Well, Jillian was being Jillian, and not letting Janice get away with her excuses. She told her to pick up the phone and to call a friend, on the air, and to invite her over. Janice stalled. She called the sound guy. Jillian told her call a friend now, or stay stuck. But if she really wanted it to be different, then she need to act now. Janice dialed.
It seems like such a silly thing to many of us. But for Janice, I am sure there was something underneath all of this that kept her stuck…or paralyzed so to speak.
The question for today in reading Mark 2 where four friends carried a paralyzed man to Jesus, is where in your life right now are you paralyzed? And who do you trust with your paralysis?
It is hard enough to admit to myself where I am paralyzed and why, let alone to trust someone else with my paralysis. What will they think of me if they really knew this piece of my life? Can I trust them to really want the best for me, to go the distance with me, to help me get to the place of healing even if it means challenging my perceptions and beliefs or forcing me to act outside what feels safe. And even more important, am I willing to consider a life where this paralysis might be healed? What risks are there for me in that?
So I am sitting with these questions. I don”t know if I have good answers to them yet, but what i am realizing as I reflect on my life is I have friends and family who have carried me in the past and believed in me when I wasn’t sure of myself. And perhaps that is a good starting place. To recognize I am not alone on the journey. There are people in my life who care enough about me to go the distance and I can trust that for the next step as well.