by Cary Branscum
Boy was I mad!
I was driving the church van and had a flat tire. Changing it was no big deal, except I was tired, and I had a van full of sleepy singles coming back from a busy weekend. It was late, dark, and cold. Traffic from the interstate nearly blew me off the shoulder. To top it all off, the last lug nut seemed to be welded on the wheel. I finally kicked the tire tool, and the lug nut loosened. So did my toenail. If it hadnt been for the Christian singles within earshot, I might have been tempted to spout off something really dumb!
Youre drivin home and youre mad. Someone just cut you off in traffic, but thats not the problem. You have lots of bills, but thats not the problem. You got a bad haircut, but thats not the problem. Whats the problem? The big promotion you wanted at work (with the expected pay raise) didnt happen. Now thats a problem! But is it THE problem?
These kind ups and downs happen to everyone. Its part of life. And, yes, not getting the promotion we wanted can feel like a kick in the teeth! Yes having a mountain of unpaid bills wears us out! And rude and dangerous drivers ruin what is already horrible day! But what is the real problem? The real issue in all these situations is this question:
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THINGS DONT GO YOUR WAY?
Or even better still:
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN NOTHING SEEMS TO GO YOUR WAY?
This is a vital question for singles to ponder. Since these things DO happen to everyone, how you respond makes a world of difference. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome that God is involved in helping ransom our worst situations (Romans 8:28). From Paul, we can gain some TIMELESS CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES we can use today when things dont go our way (which seems to happen to "lug nuts" like me a whole lot of the time!).
- We are free in Christ to make CHOICES about what we say and do. Lots of us seem to think we have to get mad, or at least a little upset. Its almost like we have no choice. But we dont HAVE to get mad. We can deal with the problem, accept the situation, or look for other options.
- We are free to choose our response when things dont go our way. As a Christian, we have to ask an important question; how do my chosen actions, words, and deeds affect others? We do not exist in isolation. The things we say and do affects others in our circle of influence.
- We can "breathe" a quick prayer, asking for Gods help and taking time to slow ourselves down. This is the spiritual version of counting to ten, plus it reminds us who is in control. This does wonders for attitude adjustment. We pray even when we dont feel like it.
- We can begin to re-label the situation by immediately thinking of one positive aspect of the situation that we are grateful for. This helps a lot. A woman tells a story about a very positive experience from her high school years. It seems her typing skills were terrible, and she was ready to drop the class. There was a pop test in class one day, and the students had two minutes to type a page. This woman misspelled almost every word on the page. She just blew it, but you know what her teacher said? The teacher complimented her on the nice straight margins on her paper! Does that sound trivial? Its not. Sometimes we just have to find that first "right thing" before we can begin to put together a positive plan of action.
- We can trust and follow God, intentionally remembering He is in charge of our lives and our ultimate destiny. When I was about nine years old, we lived on a farm. My father was plowing in a nearby field. There was a stretch of woods between our house and the field, so I couldnt see him, but Id listen to the tractor as he plowed the field back and forth. I just thought Id walk over and see my dad. I got lost in the woods, and began to panic because I couldnt see my way out. I finally found my way out by listening for the tractor. It took me three times as long, as I zigzagged through the woods to the sound of a tractor moving back and forth across the field, but I made it! Tired and scared, I walked out onto the clear plowed ground because I listened for my father working. We have to listen for Gods working in our lives. It may seem faint or quiet sometimes, but He is there, even on those nights when all the air goes out of our tires and all our hopes seem flat!
Remember, no matter where you are in life right now, no matter how everything else appears, you may be single, but you are not alone!