Last year we threw a big bash for my dad’s 90th birthday. As you can imagine there was a lot of excitement and anticipation. But just before the three-day event started, I tripped over something on our back porch and tore a calf muscle.
All I could think was “Noooooo! Not now! Not this! Not me!” The prognosis on Google was not good. I was looking at surgery then rehab. We had a ton of outdoor activities planned. The family had flown in. On top of searing pain, I was feeling stressed, anxious and totally resistant to what had happened to me.
You’ve been there. You’re headed one way and suddenly a detour jerks you off your route. It happens all the time. It can be small things or huge, life-defining events.
Our common response is often –this just should not be happening.
A lesson that keeps presenting itself to me every day is learning to live with a surrendered YES toward whatever’s happening instead of a resistant NO.
I thrive on effectiveness and efficiency. I’m always going to prefer to get stuff done in the quickest, most direct way possible. A big weakness of mine is getting bent out of shape with people or processes that move too slow (that’s why I never took up golf) or what I perceive to be inefficiency.
My family can tell you about all the times I’ve embarrassed them by taking matters into my own hands in a restaurant or store or airport when I thought the service was being mismanaged.
I couldn’t let things just be the way they were and wait for the situation to work itself out.
I was impatient, self-focused, and insistent that I knew a better way.
Eventually, over time, my refusing to accept situations as they were led to unhealthy levels of stress and fatigue, and more than several visits to the cardiac unit of a hospital – not to mention more than a few tense moments with family, friends, and co-workers.
It took a train wreck in my life to wake me up to the crazy I was doing to myself and others. And because I never want to see anything close to that happen to you I want to encourage you to pay closer attention to the times you demand life, people and circumstances be different in order for you to be happy or okay.
It’s ok to have preferences. We all have ways we’d prefer our day, our marriage, our family to go. And we can voice those preferences calmly and in love. But what do we do when our preferences don’t pan out and situations don’t go our way?
There’s a better way.
Matt 26:36-42 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus has a preference for the way he wants his life to go. And he makes an appeal for a different outcome. But when that doesn’t appear to be happening he shows us how to let go of our preferences and trust our Father has another plan that will somehow, someday result in something good.
Jesus makes his appeal in Gethsemane… which literally means: oil press. It was an olive grove where large presses crushed olives to produce the most valuable commodity at that time: olive oil.
Often our preferences… or the way we think life should go has to die or get “pressed”
so that something else can emerge from it.
And that “something” might be the very thing we really need or the insight we were missing, or it might lead us to the peace we’ve ultimately been longing for.
It’s about having a posture of Yes instead of
a No as you go through your day.
We tend to think that Jesus always desired and responded only as God. But in the garden that night he was having a human, “son of man” moment. It’s not unspiritual or evil to have preferences. But when they aren’t met, Jesus shows us how to surrender to whatever the circumstance has to give us or teach us.
There will always be suffering. Loved ones become sick or even die. We lose our job, our home, or, as in the case of Bernie Madoff’s clients, your life savings. All things we have no control over. That’s necessary suffering. But after a time of grieving, we get to choose if we want to add suffering on top of our suffering by our refusal to accept the unwanted circumstance. That’s unnecessary suffering.
Pain seems to be the rent we pay for being human,
but our unnecessary suffering is optional.
Thomas Keating said: “God will bring people & events into our lives, and whatever we may think about them, they are designed for the evolution of His life in us.
Everything that happens either feeds us or teaches us.
How about you?
What’s your emotional/spiritual posture right now? Where in your life are you saying “It must be this way or I can’t be happy? How much stress, frustration, aggravation is this creating in you?
What would it take for you to let go, to not have to fix things or change people but to surrender to what is happening? How much more calm, might you begin to experience? And how might a calmer you be even more beneficial to the people you work with and care about?
I am experiencing new and ridiculous amounts of freedom and peace every day now by doing more and more of this one simple thing: letting my preferences go and accepting situations as they unfold in front of me.
(By the way, when I went to the doctor about that “torn muscle” I discovered that it was actually just sprained and I only ended up needing crutches for a day.)
WANT MORE? Caron & I talk a whole lot more about where we’ve failed, what we’re learning now & some of the things we’re practicing overcoming our resistance to unwanted people & situations on The Live True Podcast. You can join us CLICK HERE NOW.
RESOURCES: Preview our new online course: “The Transforming Power of Self-Awareness,” by clicking HERE. We can show you how to intersect your God-awareness with greater self-awareness, so breakthroughs in your life and relationships, that have alluded you over a lifetime, can finally happen! Check it out!