No, that’s not a typo.
If you drive around right now it’s like a bad iPhone game where you have to avoid the small canyons in the road or feel the vibration. And sometimes it’s more than a little rumble and more like a jolting shock. Driving around these pot holes can make for a real challenge. But it got me thinking the other day about how the effectiveness of our lives can be hampered by the simplest of things.
These are what I call plot holes. And I’d like to look at four of the most common ones we face on the road of life.
1. Complaining: Can I just say…
It’s remarkable how much we love complaining. There’s something cerebral about venting our frustrations every moment we feel them that just makes us feel this release. However, I’ve argued before that I just don’t think venting really works. It actually becomes a place where countless people have gotten stuck at in life.
The truth is that your life does pose some unique and terribly unfair and difficult challenges. I’m sorry. I truly am. You shouldn’t have to deal with that rude customer or that terrible business or that sickness or that unkind family member or that unexpected expense or that inconveniencing situation. You get the idea. You shouldn’t have to deal with it, but it seems like it has come into your path anyway and you’ll have to.
What we lose in complaining is the understanding that we are in control of so much more than we realize. We are writers of our stories. We are the ones who can face challenges and be stronger because of them. We can grow through adversity, be strengthened through trials, and learn through our complicated circumstances. This is all possible so long as we don’t settle for complaining instead.
Complaining allows us to feel as though we’ve dealt with the situation without ever actually dealing with it at all. Our energy is better spent actively looking for solutions to life’s difficulties rather than passively wallowing in self-pity over them.
2. Laziness: Why do today what I could put off till tomorrow?
The writer of Proverbs once said: “Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest” (Prov. 20:4, NLT). They probably thought they could wait just a little longer. They probably felt exhausted from all they felt they’d already done. They probably just didn’t feel in the mood.
However, we put ourselves into so much unnecessary trouble and also miss out on so many great opportunities when we produce only when we feel like it. I’m speaking from experience because I literally had to force myself to write right now. I was able to come up with a litany of reasons why I should be allowed to just sit and do nothing. But that list wasn’t fighting for my best interest at the moment.
Our struggle with laziness is almost always connected to the next plot hole.
3. Excusitis: If only…
It’s a terrible disease affecting a wide variety of people. No matter what age, gender, race, or religion, it’s infected every kind of person. And at times I too have had cases of excusitis.
While it’s main symptom may be the obvious – making excuses – it has some other side effects that keep us from the great plots our lives could be writing. This problem causes us to take our situations and place them over our willpower, determination, and desires – as if heroes haven’t risen out of the slums, as if winners haven’t had to practice tirelessly, and as if things just work out for the successful.
You can win. I really believe it. But as long as you and I seek to make excuses for why we struggle, faint, or fail, then these must be all we ever hope to experience from life’s challenges. It’s when we fight through the sickness, the boredom, the critics, the inexperience, the ignorance, the adversity, and the apathy that we will taste the sweet nectar of the victory!
4. Lack of Vision: It’s just another day
We used to sing this cheesy song when I was a little kid in children’s church. It went on about how this is the day that the Lord has made so I was supposed to rejoice and be glad in it. Kids song or not, it’s totally true. And if you know the song, and the melody is getting played in your head right now, maybe it needs to be played.
You were given today as a gift. The present moment is a present from God to you to use wisely and make much of. Sometimes that means consistently and faithfully repeating actions yet again. But sometimes it means exploring new horizons, challenging the norm for yourself, and believing for the impossible. When we lose sight of the potential of our lives we get stuck in the monotony of our days like they were from the movie “Groundhog Day” rather than “The Bucket List.”
Life is full of plot holes that would love nothing more than to take you off track, get you to quit, or get you distracted. They have the potential of messing up the plot of the story of our lives which has such great potential! So acknowledge them for what they are. Spot them quickly on your life’s journey. Avoid them whenever possible. And when you dip down into one come right back out as quickly as possible. Make your story count for something!