Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why Me?

It is sometimes hard not to paint ourselves into the 'Why Me?' corner when it seems that at every turn, there is a setback or another piece of 'bad luck' that comes our way.  Painting ourselves into that corner however, is just that, painting ourselves into a corner.  In the corner there is not much to do but stay stuck and feel sorry for ourselves.
 It is something we often unknowingly do to ourselves as the bad circumstances come along we take a step back to protect ourselves, so that as we continue to retreat time after time, we don't even realize we have left ourselves in the position of paralysis and inactivity.  Then we start to feel victimized because all we can do at that point is lash out in our attempt to defend ourselves since there is no place to go from the corner.  We are then in a position of reaction instead of pro-action.

It is a far better position to be mindful of each setback, evaluate it and deal with it from a position of superiority, leaving ourselves open to different options of offense, instead of living out lives always on the defensive side of the line.  We do have choices.  Perhaps we don't always have a choice as to what happens to us.  There are things that go on in our lives that are clearly beyond our control.  Illness, financial crises, accidents, death, these are an example of things that happen to the best of us, no matter how well we plan our lives, how many good choices we make, or how fervently we endeavor to create a positive life, bad things still happen to good people.  No, we cannot go through life never experiencing bad things, in that we have no choice.  We do, however, have a choice as to how we react to these unwelcome circumstances.  We can either become a victim, cowering in the corner, or we can stand firm, rooted to the ground that gives us the best chance to turn a bad situation into a positive one.

Standing firm is often hard for me, so I have a feeling it can be difficult for others as well.  My first instinct is not always a - Yay, adversity gives me the advantage to grow in strength and wisdom.! On the contrary, my first thoughts are often - Good grief, here we go again!  I am not sure if it is simply my nature, or if it is a behavior I have somehow learned, but I do know that I would love to change this thought process.  I want to be a person who is always drawn toward the positive spin on the bad circumstances that life inevitably throws at me, not a Negative Nelly.

Aw, to be like Job, who even as he endured hardship after hardship, he could see that his portion came from God, whose compassion was new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-24).  He was content to wait on the Lord with faithfulness and hope.  Don't get it wrong, he never glossed over his setbacks and ignored them completely, what he did was, he saw the hardships for what they were, and waited to gain strength from God so that he could live to fight another day.  What a testimony of faithfulness.  Would that my life would be one tenth the testimony of  Job's.

I doubt any of us will endure quite as much pain, heartache and loss as Job did, at least I hope not, but I know we often feel as if we are being dealt way more than we are able to take at times, and we, as Christians can use Job's life as an example of grace and faith, because we are given the same new gift of compassion as Job was every morning.  And, to go a step beyond that, we have something Job didn't have in his life time - we have Jesus, who is our salvation as well as our rock.  Jesus said "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:29-30).  What a wonderful promise.  We don't carry our loads alone.  Not only that, we don't have to carry them at all, Jesus has offered to trade us his light, easy burden for our heavy and difficult ones.  I certainly am awestruck by this gift.

To refuse Jesus' gift but rather hold fast in my corner of self pity seems to me a slap in Jesus' face.  Here he is, offering us an easier way, no strings besides belief/faith attached, the least we can do in return is accept the offer.  I surely believe no one has ever wished they had held onto their burdens longer, or wished they had licked their wounds a bit more.  I do think more than one person has kicked themselves for not letting them go sooner, thus lightening their load.  I want to be someone who gets it right.  I want to grab on to my Savior's gift, lay down the junk that has me weighed down, and take on a lighter load, so that I can truly experience life as God intended for me.