So often these days, as I sit and listen to my friends complain about their problems, whether they be personal, financial, work-related, whatever, I just want to scream, “STOP!” I just feel like if these people would spend even a fraction of the time they spend complaining praying about the issue at hand, they would feel so much better, have so much more direction, and not get so overwhelmed by petty things. I don’t say that to be mean. Of course, I have no problem being a sounding board for my friends. It’s not healthy to keep things bottled up. But, when they have the same problems week after week, month after month, it just gets a little ridiculous. Prayer aside, I want to ask them, “What are you doing to resolve this issue?” But I’ve learned that response doesn’t go over very well. I just can’t stand to sit, trapped, listening to a never-ending “woe is me” rant that has absolutely no direction…and that I’ll inevitably be hearing again in just a matter of days or weeks. (Brace yourself for the smug sarcasm that follows.)
“So, Frank, you feel like your life has no direction and you’re not where you expected to be by your late 20s? Well, what are you doing to resolve that?” Frank (who doesn’t exist, by the way) would look at me like I had two heads. Why on earth would he make an attempt to seek out direction in his life when he could just spend every night of his life going to the same bar he’s been going to for years or getting stoned with a bunch of people who also have no direction in life.
“Julie (still not a real person), you’re frustrated because none of the guys you date take you seriously? What are you doing to resolve that?” Again, I’m talking like a crazy person. How could the fact that she dresses like a slut and is incapable of spending an evening sober possibly have anything to do with the type of men she’s attracting? Surely wealthy men with advanced educations and fast growing careers are just dying to get into a relationship and consider spending their life with someone who is advertising herself to be a shallow, insecure, freak who will do anything you want on the first night you meet her. “No, Suzie, I can’t imagine why he didn’t invite you to his office party. Oh, you found out he took his girlfriend. Yeah, I guess he used you.”
“Wow, Hannah (In case you haven’t caught on, none of these characters actually exist.), you’re really stressed out about how much debt you’re in and it’s starting to get hard to make your minimum payments? What are you doing to resolve this?” I’ll let my readers guess. Do you think Hannah has cut up her credit cards and is avoiding the mall to prevent impulse buys? Of course she’s not! In fact, she just bought 3 new pairs of shoes today. It really helps her to shop when she’s stressed out, you know.
My favorite Scrubs quote ever came from the end of an episode when JD was mentally pondering the lessons learned in said episode. He mused, “I always assumed growing up happened automatically as you got older, but it’s really something you have to choose to do.” I swear I got up and did a happy dance. :) I couldn’t believe how simple yet profound that statement was. JD (or more accurately his writers) hit that nail right on the head! If only I could teach all my friends this same lesson. Unfortunately, I think most of my friends, like me, want to learn all their lessons the hard way. They don’t want to benefit from the wisdom I’ve gained by growing up faster, they want to continue wandering aimlessly hoping that all the answers will fall on their laps and all the right doors will magically open for them.
I’ve got news for anyone that will listen. NOTHING will EVER magically fall into your lap. If you want something, you’ve got to work for it. And, just wanting “something” and “working” aren’t enough. You have to know what you want and work specifically for it . A very wise woman I know often says “the only difference between a dream and a goal is an action plan.” She is so right. To achieve anything, you must be working on purpose. Define what you want, break it down into smaller goals, then daily goals. Every day, make a list of things to do to get closer to that goal. In fact, make that list at night before you go to bed. Then,when you wake up the next morning, you know exactly what you need to accomplish. Every minute of every day, ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now getting me closer to where I want to be?” Write that phrase down and post in in places that trip you up: by the computer, over the tv, on the fridge. I think humans have an inner drive to succeed; in my faith based opinion it’s the desire to become everything that God intends for us to be. I don’t think it’s possible for us to be truly happy when we’re not living, working, and playing up to our full potential.
Too often, I watch my friends allow themselves to be bogged down by situations that don’t make them happy. These situations are usually easier or less scary than what they could or should be out in the world doing, so they just stick with them. As a result, every day, they get a little more unhappy, a little more discontent, and a little more down on themselves. That’s why I just want to shake them and scream, “STOP!” I want them to realize that they are not victims of life or circumstance. I want them to understand that they are in whatever situation they are in because they choose to stay there. Absolutely no one can give their lives meaning except for them. I personally think they need to reach up to the Lord and ask what direction they should take with their lives. At the very least, they need to get honest with themselves about what they want and how to realistically achieve it. If only they would hear that from me…