I was watching a show recently about drug addicts in recovery. One of the addicts was lamenting about his family situation and how he wished his father was more present in his life. The counselor simply stated, “But he’s not, now what?”
It seems harsh at first, but the counselor is right. The addict would struggle as long as he refused to accept the reality of his dysfunctional relationship with his father.
The important question to ask ourselves when life inevitably doesn’t turn out the way we want is “Now what do I do?”
I’ve spent far too much time the past few years waiting for the right doors to open, waiting to be offered a position in ministry again, simply holding my breath and waiting for whatever would come next. “Waiting to die, waiting to live, waiting for an absolution that would never come.”
All that waiting sewed an unhealthy restlessness in me. I could never be happy with where I was because I was staring at others’ lives thinking “That’s where I’m ‘supposed’ to be. I can never be happy until I’m there.”
In effect, I was telling God, “I know better than you do how to run my life. When are you going to get with the program and do the right thing?”
In reflecting on 2010 for my Christmas letter, I realized that this was the year I stopped waiting for life to begin and accepted my life for what it is at this moment. I realized that where I am is my life, at least for now. I can lament about where it is not. I can pine for what could be. I also can embrace where I am wholeheartedly and enjoy it for what it is.
Paul wrote from prison, “I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
If anyone had the right to complain, Paul did. But he didn’t. He rejoiced. He trusted God’s sovereignty. He even encouraged others!
I don’t have control over most aspects of life, but I do have control over who I am in every season. Unfavorable circumstances don’t give me license to put off being the person God is calling me to be (the person I want to be). Even if they did, what does it benefit me to pout and whine? I’d much rather rejoice. I’d rather trust God’s sovereignty. I’d rather encourage others.
Don’t wait for circumstances to change your responses. God’s work in our lives continues unabated, giving us freedom to respond as Christ would no matter what is happening around us.
I echo Switchfoot’s question, “This is your life, are you who you want to be?” How different our lives would be if the only thing that changed was our attitude!