And we're back! Yesterday we talked about 5 things to do when you don't understand life. That was good. But I have more experience in the what not to do category as of this moment in time, so today, we'll focus on that.
How Not to Handle Life When You Don't Understand Life
THINGS NOT TO DO
1. Become a sovereignty victim.
We all know what it looks like to play the victim in life. It often looks like bearing an ever-decreasing role of responsibility for the events that have taken place and staying stuck in them because it's either too difficult to move on or too easy to stay in a position of pity.
But it's easy to play that card and name it "sovereignty," too. It often looks like accepting the status-quo as God's plan for our lives, painting challenges that are meant to increase our character as allowed attacks that we just have to endure, and not doing anything to change our circumstances because we are "waiting on God's timing." There is a place for all of these things - God does have a plan for our lives, we are attacked by evil, and we do often have to wait on God's timing.
But none of that should ever be a crutch.
Once we start to use them as excuses for complacency, we take on a victim mentality towards sovereignty. Instead of believeing that God is in complete control and works all things together for good, we believe that we have to solider on and wait for God to hand our dreams to us. But that's not how it works. That's why I love these thoughts from Bob Goff in Love Does:
I think that if you want something badly enough, you'll kick down whatever doors you have to in order to get there. If it's not the dream God has for you, He'll either change your heart or change your circumstances as long as you are following Him. But it's much easier to choose to become of victim of sovereignty and lament that your dream isn't in God's plans right now.
Don't give in to that! Fight for your dreams until directed otherwise! I'm learning this one right now (as in the minute that just passed, right now) and it's a tough pill to swallow, but it's good medicine.
2. Dwell on what you don't have
A surefire way to bum yourself out is to dwell on what you don't have. One night last week I went to bed mumbling prayers through tears about address labels. Address labels. It's not that I have very specific address label needs, it's that I haven't stayed anywhere long enough to need them (my choice) and right now, I'm borrowing my parents' address (also my choice). Despite the fact that I've made anti-labeling decisions about where I live, it would be nice to have at least a semi-permanent place to put down roots. And when I dwell on not having that, I think about how I'm way behind the curve and how I have to rummage through boxes every time I want something that isn't unpacked and how lame I am for moving back home. In doing that I completely negate what I do have: more time to spend with my parents, a roof over my head and a place to call home, the ability to hustle for my dreams while on a limited income. What I do have is so much greater than what I don't have. But I don't see that when I dwell on what I don't have.
3. Undo good progress with bad decisions
I'm awesome at this. If my life had a dance step, it would be take two steps forward and three steps back. Case in point: two weeks ago I ran a 10k within my goal time; last week I ate frozen yogurt for lunch three times. Suffice it to say that was not my goal time for number of dessert lunches consumed in one week.
Did that negate the 10k victory? Heck no. But did that help me get any closer to running a faster 10k next time - or to running at all without feeling like death last week? Um, heck no. Losing sight of the end goal and/or assuming that it's too far away to matter are easy entry points for bad decisions to invade and set you back. In this case, I lost sight of the fact that a) I don't want to grow out of my jeans and b) I don't want to solve my problems with sugar and c) I want to fuel my body for success, not failure. I let my circumstances (bad week) define my behavior (dessert marathon) and eclipse my end goal (being healthy). Left unchecked, it's a monster that will mitigate lots of good progress, and it's completely unnecessary.
4. Forget that seasons change
When I was nannying last year I had a mantra: "It won't be like this for long." So when meltdowns happened I kept my cool by remembering that it was an isolated occurrence from a kid who was probably just hungry or tired or testing the limits on free will. And when hugs and high fives happened I held onto them that much tighter by remembering that those moments are fleeting, too. In trying moments and tear-jerker moments, I found it so helpful to remember that it wouldn't be that way for long.
I tend to forget that with other seasons in life. Right now, it feels like I will always be hustling for work and living with my parents. But, by definition, seasons change. I can clearly see how other seasons have come and gone, and this one is will eventually come to pass as well. It won't be like this for long - in good ways and bad.
5. Let your feelings determine your fate
Feelings are temporary. I can't repeat that to myself often enough, and yet I'm still frequently derailed by feelings. As per above, I felt sad, so I ate enough servings of frozen yogurt to feed my whole family. This happens all the time in other iterations - I feel tired, so I sleep in instead of getting up and doing devotions; I feel unmotivated, so I skip my workout; I feel afraid, so I procrastinate and work on something less intimidating.
It goes without saying that some feelings shouldn't be disregarded - you should feel bad about walking into a dark alley in the middle of the night and should use that feeling to choose a different route. Good decision. But there's a difference between feelings that work to keep you safe, and feelings that are at work to keep you living safely - never taking risks or making the most of your life. Those feelings - that resistance - should always be disregarded.
How do you do it? As Steven Pressfield says, you need to go pro:
I love the thought of going pro with my life.
Ok guys, you're up. What mistakes have you made in uncertain seasons? Have you experienced any of these?