Keep Calm and Carry On
Have you ever really, realllllly wanted – even needed – something to happen… and it didn’t?
Of course you have. We wouldn’t be human if we got everything we ever wanted.
But sometimes, it seems kind of cruel, doesn’t it?
I’ve been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the girls. I loved this book – and its sequel – as a child. I thought it rather silly as a twenty-year-old ‘grown-up’. Now, as an almost thirty-two-year-old mother, I think it borders on profound.
In my eyes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a treatise on the evils of greed, gluttony, and selfishness. The hero is none of those things; the other children are all of those things. The hero survives; the others are destroyed by their impulsiveness, obnoxiousness, and covetousness.
They see something, they need to have it, they go out and get it.
They’re not much different than you and I.
We see something, we need to have it, we go out and get it, don’t we?
These past six months I’ve struggled with situational contentment. An issue we’ve prayed for hasn’t changed; a situation we’ve needed to resolve has remained the same. I feel ready to break, and yet, there’s been no give.
I used to believe we’re not given more than we can handle. Now I feel like that can’t be right.
Sure, I’m not the kids in this story. My biggest problem is not whether or not I get an invitation to a chocolate factory, or how much TV I get to watch, or if I’m the world record gum chewer.
My problem is actually a legitimate problem. What I want seems pretty reasonable.
But you can’t always get what you want.
The thing about these seasons where you can’t get what you want is that it makes it very hard to watch other people seem to get what they want. It makes it very hard to hear other people muse about your reality as hypothetical situations –‘if I were you, I’d do this…‘ I want to be teachable. I want to be open. I want to grow. But something I wish I could tell the world, guess what, you don’t have those things. Be happy and stop talking.
For that, and so many other reasons, the last year has been a paradox. Never have I been more blessed by community; never have I been so disgusted with humanity. That’s not necessarily anyone’s fault but mine, and I can’t explain the dichotomy, except to say, we have the best friends in the world, and they help us not be angry at all the garbage.
Last week, one of those people very wisely pointed out to me we all still live like Adam and Eve – surrounded by abundance but consumed with that one tree we can’t have.
I had nothing to say to that, because…
I gotta stop looking at that tree.
We all gotta stop looking at that tree.
So today, I’m going to get up and do the things I need to do. I’m going to take my chemo. I’m going to care for my children. I’m going to clean my house. I’m going to make dinner.
The more I do those things, the less I look at that tree, and the more thankful I am for all of those things I need to do.
We are blessed by abundance. Sometimes we just need eyes to see it.
Perhaps, if we got everything we needed, we’d never see those things.
So, in case any of you are in one of those seasons where you desperately need something to change and, for some bizarre reason, it just won’t, know that there’s at least one other person fighting hard to
keep calm and carry on.
It’s going to be okay. Really. We can do it.
Ready? 3, 2, 1… go.
“I used to believe we’re not given more than we can handle. Now I feel like that can’t be right.”
I agree. It seems to me that people get pushed past their breaking point all the time. Good, faithful people.
The only way I know how to square this with my faith is to believe that redemption works retroactively, that the wounds we sustain in this life are not only healed but somehow transfigured in the next. Yet the fact that it may all make sense from the vantage point of the next life doesn’t diminish my frustration with the senseless brokenness of the here and now. It’s still not ok.
But what you illustrate so beautifully is that it doesn’t have to be ok for us to be genuinely grateful for the blessings.
Thanks for this!
You are so right! That reconciliation is all about the future. I read something recently that said, ‘all is grace because all can transfigure.’ So interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
This was perfectly what I needed to read today:) you have such a way of writing things! Keep smiling Lana and keep writing beautiful truths.
Thanks Amanda… you are such a surprise… you ooze joy! I am glad you were encouraged today by my attempt to stay on the path of contentment. Thanks for your infectious peace. You inspire me, friend!
I love your articles…they are so practical, sensible and wise…written by someone who has and is experiencing real challenges. I also love that you don’t ‘spiritualize’ everything…so your thoughts and advice don’t excude anyone. Thanks for sharing…you are helping and encouraging alot of people.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Esther. I appreciate your comments about inclusion. My worldview is obvious, but so many who read this blog have a very different perspective from me and I respect that. I hope they can get something from this, even when our assumptions about the world are different from each other. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I love that, your ‘attempt to stay on the path of contentment”. I truly try and do this, primarily by counting my blessings, but even with minor irritations, this can be hard when people like yourself are facing major issues, it really puts it in into perspective and thank you for sharing. Good ol’ Charlie. It is a profound story.
Thank you!! Very cool. And may I say what you’re doing for your family doesn’t seem so ‘little.’ Those are very real challenges you face, doing what you do. I’m proud of you for homeschooling your kids in a tense situation. I appreciate your comment on this… trying to stay on the path of contentment will be a lifelong battle for so many of us, I think. I hope it gets easier as we go along. Blessings! Lana
But at least we think it’s important to try to “live a life of contentment”, at least we believe that having what we want, even what we need, is NOT something we’re entitled to but certainly something OK to want and OK to strive for without pushing/stepping on anyone else in the way! All we can do is recognise that we don’t understand why we have the hand that’s dealt to us but try, by counting our blessings, to believe that we’ve got a good life anyway, even if it’s for a limited time for ourselves or the people we love. If I focus on my kids, I always feel better. I just focus on everything about them and I feel better. Blessings to you too 🙂
Thanks for posting this, because I have felt myself getting caught up in those same feelings lately. It IS really hard to not notice everything that works out so perfectly for other people, so I need to take a step back and focus on the blessings I’ve been given instead of playing the games of comparisons and “what ifs”. It seems that contentment is going to be a life-long lesson for me, though it’s more of a roller coaster, you know? Some days just seem better than others. I love that you always seem to know what I need to hear!
Yup, I hear you! And some days just ARE better than others. Revel in them. 😉 PS. Glad you liked this – and that it helped. I write to help myself mostly, but its great to know when it helps someone else too. Love you!