Then the next day somebody told me about a friend that was irritating them to death with frequent telephone calls. Her friend envied her hair and kept calling to ask how she got her hair to look that for an upcoming event. “It’s ridiculous and she’s driving me crazy!” my friend said, “and she’ll never get it to look like mine. Why can’t she accept it?” My friend is right. One of them has straight hair and one has curly hair. They’ll never have identical hairdos because it’s literally impossible. And then the light went off over my own head: it seems that the desire to be normal actually causes MORE problems than being different. As I ponder this further, it’s true. There’s a lot of strife in this world, and most of it goes back to 2 things:
1. People are jealous and envy what others have; or
2. People don’t understand what others are doing because it doesn’t seem “right” to them, so they object.
And in both situations, there’s no way to have a good, functioning relationship with people. So they argue. They fight. They try to force and coerce others to doing things the way they believe is “right” and refuse to accept people for who they are. What’s more, many of these people are in church every Sunday, and yet the concept of grace and having enough of it to respect the wants and needs of others goes right past them. It’s like it doesn’t even exist.
I might not be popular, but at least I have freedom. I don’t envy others because I’m too busy attending to the business of my own life. And as a result of that, I usually don’t spend too much mental energy forming opinions of how other people are leading their life unless they intrude on my time/space/territory (then it’s fair game, because I do have a right to determine what is and is not acceptable in my own life, and I can give you the name of a few witnesses that will attest to the fact that I will indeed do just that if you invade my life). I might not understand things, but one thing I’ve learned in adulthood is wisdom is gained from mistakes, and experience is, in many instances, a greater teacher than words. I remember what J.R.R. Tolkein wrote in The Lord of the Rings about the burned hand taking lessons of fire to heart. I also remember what C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters about the prayer the devil loves the most is “make me like everybody else.” That’s Satan’s playground, where every deadly sin has a place to take root. I see the point. If “everybody is doing it,” then that’s reason to stop right there and ask if it’s wisdom or just the next foolish net laid for this season’s catch.
I know I have too many rough edges for some people to deal with, but I’ve found that they deal with being real and honest a lot better than being fake. I’ve also learned that, as the saying goes about birthday’s, “it’s a matter of mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Being true to who the Lord made you to be not only guarantees that you will find and fulfill all of your purposes in life, but that the opinions of others really don’t matter to you. Things tend to turn out for the best if you stay true to yourself, anyway. Yes, people still shake their head at me occasionally. Yes, I get frustrated with the lack of understanding from time to time. No, I’ll never be popular. No, I’m not in any cliques. I go my own way and do my own thing. But people know my personal policy, and that they can trust me to always do my very best, no matter what. And a funny thing happens when you stand your ground – people are more comfortable being their real self when they see that you aren’t afraid. They open up more and worry less, and in turn you develop stronger relationships based on mutual trust and respect. That’s just not possible in cliques based on fake conformity, masks, and facades. They can have that, because I don’t have time for what’s fake. Give me something real or get outta here. That’s my stand.
Last week, I read an interesting line in my weekly devotional. It said “God doesn’t want you to be happy. He wants you to do what’s right.” That’s absolutely true. I’m reading through The Bible, and one thing that strikes me is God’s repeated statement to “obey my commands.” Not “do whatever and you’ll be okay,” but “obey my commands.” This is usually followed by a list of how people will prosper if they do and suffer if they don’t. Furthermore, Jesus went on to say that He wants us to have life in all its abundance – but you have to do what’s right to get it. Jesus didn’t say “have an okay life.” He said “life in abundance.” It seems to me that if you do what’s right, then happy is a side effect. Too many people are hung up on their feelings these days. They want happy, but don’t understand what it takes to get happy. It’s like they’re feasting on French fries and leaving the steak untouched. Doing right = happy. Do wrong = hurt. It’s the simplest equation and yet, through all of human history, we still don’t get it. I think it goes back to the Mark Twain quote that “opportunity is often missed because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” True enough.
I think this is why unique people are happier in the long run. They aren’t caught up in the trappings of “what everybody else is doing” and “what should be” like others are. They aren’t afraid of who they are or of the hard work it takes to accomplish their dreams. They’re playing the hand they have and making the best of it. And after a while, you learn to play it to win – even if it’s a hand full of jokers!
That’s all today. Happy Friday to you and have a great weekend.