When I lost my job a few weeks back, one of my thoughts was “This will give me a chance to do some activities in DC I normally wouldn’t take time to do. I can go to the zoo and check out the new exhibits at the museums. It’ll be great.”
Then everything got shut down. Se la vi. Welcome to my life.
I’m excited that things are opening back up again, but I have to say, I don’t think there’s much to celebrate. It’s not like we have a true win for our country here. Things are going to continue to be the same story over and over. From what I’ve seen with our Congress—one side will continually disagree with the other side about everything. The same is true of both major parties. It’s a cycle that has no end in sight.
The part that always annoys me is that if we have a Republican President, Democrats will throw stones at him and say that if we had a Democrat in office then everything would change. They use words like “Hope” and “Change,” and give off the impression that all of the answers rest in one man’s policies. Then when a Democrat takes office, the Republicans say the same things. “Let’s get America back on track.” Did it really spiral completely out of control in four years? Or was it a gradual progression of a serious problem?
I fear that the blame game is the most important issue at hand in Washington. And it’s not just Washington either. It’s everywhere.
There’s a line from the South Park episode “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow” that stuck with me over the years. The town of Beaverton has just been flooded and everyone is throwing blame at the cause of it on various people and organizations. Stan is concerned about the people stuck on their rooftops in the flood and asks his dad, “Somebody’s gonna help the people off their, their rooftops, right?” To which his dad Randy replies, “That’s not important right now, son. What’s important is figuring out whose fault this is.” They nailed it.
Whether we ourselves are verbal participants or not, we are a nation made up of continually unsatisfied, judgmental people who look for immediate effects to be what we measure success and progress by. We don’t look at timelines; we look at stopwatches.
Imagine if you were a farmer, and you planted some seeds and then two days later gave up on them because nothing was sprouting. You’d be a terrible farmer and starve to death. Maybe we are surrounded by more terrible farmers than we realize. Maybe we are terrible farmers.
When you get caught up on immediate effects then nothing will ever be good enough for you. No program will ever be efficient enough. You’ll be a negative, bummer, pain-to-be-around person.
We can look for immediate effects but life seldom gives them to us. Most good things take time. That’s just the reality of it all. It’s funny how we can live in reality and still forget it exists and that there are certain rules of physics and logic that apply, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s just how it is here. In the words of Will Smith, “Welcome to earth!”
There’s a line from Donald Miller’s book “Searching for God Knows What” that I highlighted. A friend of his tells him, “Don, Reality is like fine wine. It will not appeal to children.” Reality says that we need to be patient, but children are rarely patient.
I got lunch with my campus pastor Nate on Tuesday this week. If you read my blog from Wednesday, you know that Tuesday was a bit of a breakdown day for me where my frustration was maxing out. A lot of it was a result of my search for immediate effects.
Nate and I were talking about this same concept and how people look for immediate effects. And he ripped off a piece of the paper placemat and said, “I think most of the time God just gives us a corner of the map of our situation and says, ‘Here, go with this.’ He can see the whole map, but we have to work with what he’s given us and go as far as that corner’s directions take us.” I kept that piece of the placemat and put it in my wallet as a reminder. He was right.
I’m willing to bet that if we could only wait, we’d see that many of the areas in our lives that aren’t showing any immediate effects are leading us to places that we will like a whole lot. We might not love the process of it, and that’s ok. You don’t have to love it; you just have to survive it. If you’re going through it all and are still standing at the end of the day, then you’re doing better than any immediate effect will ever let you know.
Hold out. Be patient. Keep moving forward. You know, another way that reality is like fine wine is that it takes a long, long time to become the kind of wine that people brag about.