Oftentimes, we tell ourselves lies. More often than not, I believe it is our sin nature that convinces us of what we think should be the truth rather than reality, but somehow the made-up truth makes us feel better. One of the more frequent lies I hear is “I can’t be happy unless everything goes my way.” For people who think that way, the issue is control, and they will be miserable until they realize the truth. We see it played out in society everyday. Someone who can no longer relax at the movie because someone tall sits in front of them. Someone who is unable to enjoy a meal because they think the service is slow. Someone who yells at the coffee house barista because they think their coffee is too cold or hot. Or how often does road rage happen because someone thinks another driver is purposely out to get them? I’m sure we can all think of plenty of examples of how easily we allow an external circumstance to ruin our experience.
I recall a trip I took to Colorado where I had to fly into Denver for several meetings. One of those meetings was in Colorado Springs, roughly an hour’s drive from where I was staying. I wish it didn’t happen as often, but I once again found myself running late to my meeting so I felt justified speeding all the way there. Yep, guilty as charged. In my mind and because I was late, it seemed that everyone else was going way too slow. I remember thinking, “Come on people, we’re on a freeway!” Have you ever felt like that? You’re late and everyone else in the world is moving so slowly. I didn’t get a ticket, but I certainly deserved it. After my meeting, the drive back to Denver was different. I didn’t have something I was late to so I leisurely drove the speed limit while I took in the beautiful Colorado weather and scenery. That’s when I noticed everyone else was driving so FAST. It was like they had no concept of the amazing wildflowers and spectacular mountain plains surrounding this little highway.
So what changed between my trip there and home? Were the drivers really going at drastically different speeds on the way to and from my meeting? The obvious answer is no because the only thing that changed was my perception of others and my focus. I became the standard of what was fast and what was slow based on my schedule. The truth is traffic lights don’t change to red only when you’re late getting someplace, and grocery store lines aren’t intentionally longer when you’re in a hurry. The focus on ourselves only makes us more focused on our own circumstances.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider; God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.” How much could our perception of a situation change if we stop to look for the good, even in the midst of something bad.
Phil. 4:11-13 says “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
If you think you can’t be happy unless things go you’re way, you’re headed for a lot of personal unhappiness and frustration with the world. The sooner we realize that it’s not everyone else’s job to make us happy and choose to seek out ways to serve others, we will never be content. And like I’ve said often, what we do is going to be passed down to the little eyes and little ears watching us at all times.