Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crappy Circumstances & a Stinky Attitude

Oh hey… yep I’m alive. I know, I know, I’ve been missing in action for a while now. No excuses. Okay, well maybe one, writer’s block. In this case though it could actually be known as the avoidance of processing what’s going on inside my head.

If I’m being honest, I don’t know what I am thinking or feeling at the moment. After being overseas for 10 weeks immersed in another culture, watching God work in so many lives (including mine), it’s difficult to put into words or even to gather my thoughts enough to tell about it.

Have you ever had that day where a stink seems to follow you around all day and you just can’t figure out what it is or where it’s coming from? It’s a grotesque aroma that you inhale every so often and it burns the inside of your nasal passages, making you gag a little. The worst is when you finally discover the source of the dreadful odor squished into the crevices of your favorite sneakers.

I bring this up because that’s how I have felt lately about the goodbyes and changes I’ve been facing. It feels like I’ve stepped in crap and can’t seem to escape the smell. The catch-22 is it’s my own fault, the situation stinks and so does my attitude.

I mean with the whole goodbye thing, I’m sick of them. I want to know what the heck it “good” about them? Who came up with that stupid word anyway? I can tell you that the recent goodbyes to family, polish friends, relationships, and pioneers friends did not offer “good” feelings. In fact, it was quite miserable. Not to mention the dread I feel as I approach saying goodbye to my best friend who is moving to NYC and my life in Melbourne as I move to a different city.

The thing about goodbye’s is most often they are followed by some type of change. A transition in life is involved in the goodbyes. They are a risk. Having to watch someone you love walk away can be a scary feeling and choosing to walk away is an even greater risk.

When I left for Poland I said goodbye to so many people I adored with the possibility that I may never see them again and the realization that their lives would continue on whether I was present in them or not.

That’s the hardest part of goodbye; time doesn’t stand still. Goodbye doesn’t mean everything stops until hello again. Goodbye’s mean there may not be another hello. I hate that. Especially if you have loved, invested in, and enjoyed the person you have to say goodbye to. Every goodbye brings a different feeling, some are temporary, offer relief or even freedom but other times they don’t make sense, aren’t fair or just plain suck. It doesn’t help if life is transitioning you into a season that may seem like a question mark.

A few days ago I found myself in a bit of an argument with God about this whole “I-don’t-like-my-circumstances/life isn’t fair/why!?” thing. I was sort of venting about how crappy things had been since being home. Pretty quickly He hit me with an interesting visual (and a reminder that God has delightful wit). It was an image, unfortunately now ingrained in my mind.

It was a pile of poop.

Yep. God showed me an image of crap recently… told you he had wit (let’s be real this is borderline sarcasm). This amusing visual came with an attention-grabbing analogy though. I felt like God said,

Lauren, you can choose to do one of two things in a crappy situation:
Stand in it and stink or use it as fertilizer and grow.”

After some giggling, I actually began to see the truth this silly visual presented. There I was pouting, angry, annoyed, irritated with life’s “unfairness”…choosing to sit in the crap. My attitude reeked just as much as the situation itself. The awful by-product of my selfish tendency is subjecting everyone else to the stench. We sometimes really stink at handling the issues or circumstances life sometimes brings. When we carry ourselves with the attitude of ‘whoa-is-me, my life sucks’, it’s like stepping in poop and leaving a little bit everywhere you go. Everybody else gets a whiff of that crap—spreading your negativity like a virus.

On the reverse end, and I think more importantly what God was trying to point out, is that in crappy situations there is an opportunity for them to produce something great in us. When we let God have control of the hard things, the things we can’t understand or don’t want to face, we allow a smelly mess to become a growth opportunity. Reality is they still stink but with endurance and patience, offer the chance for something unpleasant to cultivate beauty.

Maybe you will grow in attitude, love, tolerance or understanding. Instead of looking at a testing time as crappy, I have to look at them as a thing of purpose. That’s our biggest problem, we sit and try to analyze and figure out the crap as if sulking in the circumstance will give some sort of momentum in understanding—that’s like analyzing a pile of poop to figure out what was ate! (Harsh visual I know but it’s true!) You aren’t going to gain anything in digging through it besides a gag reflex. The complexity of certain situations cannot be understood, especially the stinky ones. Take them for what they are, excess waste, decomposing—yet capable of cultivating something new. All it takes is an adjustment in your perspective.

That was God’s point. We get to choose. Smell or grow…
What’s on your shoe?

Step into growth. Life is predictably unpredictable. It’s going to stink occasionally. I don’t have to understand or like the crap. I just have to recognize that with a little patience, it can develop something beautiful in me.

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise. Life is change. Growth is optional... Choose wisely."

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