When Life Gives You Lemons...You Thank God?
With each passing year, I get more sure that Travis Tritt did not have it right. It is not a great day to be alive BUT I am more sure than ever that it is a life worth living. In this article, I will discuss 5 mindset shifts that not only allow you to function in a broken world but to thrive in it.
1. You are Exactly Where God Intended
Have you ever looked around at your situation and thought “How did it get to this point?” Based on the fact you clicked on this article, you might be in one of those situations right now. Spoiler alert … You are right where you are supposed to be.
Now, I don’t know what troubles have led you here, but I do know that we all have those moments. Some moments are tougher than others. Those moments where things tend to spin out of control. Maybe a relationship is going south, maybe you lost a job, a loved one, or even a pet. You may have made a small(ish?) mistake that has spiraled into a full-blown disaster … Yep, we’ve all been there too.
I’m not here to tell you that everything is going to end beautifully, all wrapped up nicely with a bow, like the ending of a Hallmark movie. That’s life in the movies, but not actual life. But, I am here to remind you that you are exactly where God intended and hopefully point you in a direction that makes this period a little easier to bear.
How? How could this rotten situation be where God wants me? Does he get a chuckle out of my misfortune?
2. View Your Situation from a Different Lens
Let’s take your situation and maybe look at it from a different angle. 30,000-feet above. Take away some of the emotion tied to your predicament and view it from here. Is there a pathway that maybe you couldn’t see before? A new opportunity that could have only come from this situation. If you can’t see it, keep looking, and keep thinking. It might be obvious, but it might not be.
“There is no new path here. There is nothing good here. I feel trapped and I don’t see an exit, much less a pathway.”
I think we have all walked at least a mile in these shoes. Each walk is different. Some are worse than others. But generally, these stretches of life have the same theme “I’m trapped and there is no way out.”
This can be a treacherous walk, eh, hike. We are attempting to climb out of one of the valleys in our life, so to speak. I think hike is a more appropriate term. With any hike, there is always some sort of looming danger, a slippery rock, fatigue, a bear waiting for us over the ridge, letting our mind drift off into a fantasy world.
Letting our mind drift off into a fantasy world? One of those things may not be like the other, but it prevents just as real a threat to your sanity and overall happiness.
3. Take a Break from Social Media
It is incredibly easy to escape our real and living world. There are endless social media escape routes through the form of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, message boards, Snapchat, and *insert any other social media app that has popped up and will continue to surface through the end of time*. One of the dangers to be wary of when browsing Facebook or any other social media app is to remember that you are merely seeing the highlight reel of someone’s life. You don’t see their struggles, their pain, their suffering, the demons they fight. You often see “The Perfect Life.”
It's like watching the highlights of a basketball game on SportsCenter and thinking that was all there was to the game. That point guard never misses a shot, never turns the ball over, and never fouls. I mean if you only watched the highlights that’s what you would assume, right?
But anyone who has watched even 10 minutes of basketball knows that isn’t the case. Yet we often forget that same message when scrolling through our Facebook or Instagram feed. We are seeing the point guard that never misses a shot and taking it at face value.
I don’t think I have to tell you that “The Perfect Life” doesn’t exist. Each and every one of us struggles in different areas but we all have our daily, monthly and lifelong battles. I say all of that, not to discourage you from engaging in social media but to remind you to keep that in the back of your mind as you do.
Let’s get back to the point.
Where were we… Oh yeah, that “trapped feeling” and how social media can be a “trap” for that.
When you sit alone with your thoughts, pondering your situation, and take a trip down social media lane, it is easy to view the lives of those around you as perfect and imagine yourself in their shoes.
They have a perfect life, the perfect family, the perfect relationship, the perfect house, and the perfect “story”. They go to Disney World, but you don’t see the three-mile lines, the kid crying, because he didn’t get exactly what he wanted or the complete exhaustion of walking around in the 100-degree, 100% humidity Florida weather. You see the happy family in front of the Magic Kingdom living out the “perfect vacation” in the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth.”
This isn’t a Walt Disney hit piece, I promise. A trip to Disney World with my family is one of my fondest memories of childhood. I think it probably does have a pretty good argument for “Happiest Place on Earth.” This is simply a perspective to show that even at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” things aren’t as perfect as they may look in a picture.
When you start to picture yourself in someone else’s shoes, through the lens of their “perfect” social media life, remember … It isn’t real. None of it is. Don’t fall for it. Don’t fall into the trap of envisioning your perfect life through someone else.
The truth is, that suffering and pain are part of life. There is no escaping suffering. Suffering is the human experience, an experience that is an unavoidable part of life. Drifting off into a fantasy world only promotes the thought that you can escape it. Instead of seeking out that dream world escape, keep searching the horizon for the real escape that God has laid out for you.
And maybe you’re right. Maybe there is no immediate secret path or escape that leads you out of this valley you’ve found yourself in. You are still right where God intended.
4. Use Tough Moments as an Opportunity to Grow
Now, I want you to ignore everything I just said … No, not permanently, but just for a minute. We are going to take a trip into a dream world. Transport yourself to a warm and sunny tropical beach. The only sound you can hear is the crystal-clear ocean waves rolling in, slowly and methodically over the white sand. The sun beats down and you find shade under a single palm tree right off the shore.
There is nothing spectacular about this palm tree, it isn’t particularly large or magnificent. But, this isn’t a normal palm tree. This palm tree seems to be permanently bent. Right in the middle. Still, the palm tree stands tall. Exactly what caused this bend is unknown, maybe a mighty hurricane, maybe a quick pop-up thunderstorm with strong gusts. Regardless, a storm threw its strongest punch to no avail, the palm tree adapted to the situation and not only survived but came out stronger, more prepared for the next storm.
I’m sure you know where I’m headed with this… Live like that palm tree.
Our life is full of storms, some worse than others. Sometimes we can bear them with a natural stance, others require adaptation.
Have you learned anything through this tough stretch? Sometimes the most valuable lessons that we learn in life come during moments of discomfort, during the pain, suffering, struggle, and sheer willpower to crawl out of this figurative “storm” or “valley” in life.
This battle may bring out of you, something you never knew existed in the first place. A warrior, so to say, who will emerge victorious after it seems like life threw every shot it had at you. Only time will tell on that part.
Okay, I understand. That one might not apply to your situation either. That is okay. One of the things that we as Christians must accept is that we won’t always understand the bigger picture.
Each of our lives is a masterpiece from God. If we break into pieces or segments of different times of our lives, we end up with a bunch of pieces. Puzzle pieces. We can only see the pieces of the puzzle that we’ve been given so far. Today you’ve got a puzzle piece in your hand that doesn’t make sense. No rotation of the piece will allow it to fit properly with the puzzle in front of you. That puzzle piece in your hand might look like it came from an entirely different scene because there is no way it fits in the puzzle that sits before you.
5. There is Always Hope
Paul gives us guidance on this subject in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV):
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
There are several ways to interpret that passage, but Paul is pretty direct. God will not saddle you with a burden you cannot handle. When we can’t do it alone, he is there to carry us. Lean on him and ask his guidance in finding that way out Paul talks about.
We can always hope for a better tomorrow because God’s promise to us is that better tomorrow if we trust him. Tomorrow may mean, literally tomorrow, or it could be days, months, or years away. There is no promise of a better life here on Earth, but there is a promise for a better life, eternally. That alone is reason for hope.
As you go on with your day-to-day and throughout the rest of the week What doesn’t make sense today, may make sense tomorrow. You might be missing the piece that connects this puzzle piece to the rest of the group.
In the end, your vision of a completed puzzle might look a little different than what God intended, but it is the completed puzzle he was looking for all along.