Own It

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I had one of those “ah ha” moments today. It came in a fashion I don’t typically like, though. I was caught up in a stream of thoughts about issues that were frustrating me when all of a sudden my conscience called me out on my pity party. In the midst of feeling sorry for myself and completely self-justified, I was reminded that these (small) issues were deriving from parts of life that “are what they are.” I am usually adverse to the overused cliché “it is what it is”, since our generation loves to use it as an excuse and justification for every mistake we want to make, but in this case I saw that it quite accurately put my issues into perspective: It is what it is. I was having an issue with something and I had the choice of how I would react. I had to own my problem.

We don’t usually enjoy owning our problems, do we? Think about it: when someone irritates or offends us, we like to share complain about it with other people rather than confronting the individual we have the issue with. For some reason we’d rather dwell on it than get to the root of it and find a solution. Or how about when we don’t feel or look as healthy as we’d like? We like to complain about our imperfect genetic makeup instead of changing the unhealthy habits we’ve developed and add consistent discipline. It just seems like too much work sometimes. So we’re left with frustration, anger, insecurities, and sometimes self hate because we don’t step up to the plate and own our problems. We’d like someone else to take care of it, please.

Now I know life is imperfect and that many things are out of our control. By no means am I suggesting that we have control over the outcome of all situations in life. What I am saying is that we have control over how we react.

Not happy with the job you feel stuck in? What are you doing about it? How are you working towards the dreams that you once had? Miserable in a relationship when you know you deserve better but are too afraid to leave it and be alone? Why are you selling yourself short, believing that you’re not worth the fight and risk? Angry at life because of the hand you think it’s dealt you? What are you doing or not doing to perpetuate the cycle that you’re in? Are you walking around with a heavy chip on your shoulder, bitter and defeated, or are you owning your problems, getting to the root of them, and finding a solution?

I’m not saying that life is supposed to be perfect and struggle free, nor am I suggesting that my own is. That would be a big lie and a waste of my time writing this. I know that life can dish us some pretty crappy experiences: death, divorce, adultery, unemployment, sickness; many things that are often not our fault. But in reality, it really doesn’t matter whose fault it is, does it? Life’s not fair. Life can hurt. I’m not trying to minimize the severity of the situations I just listed – I’ve faced many of them myself. But how are we going to deal with it? How are we going to spend the short time here on earth we know as life? Do we sink in bitterness and anger and self pity, or do we make the most of what we have and do what we can do to better ourselves? We’ve got to own our problems, or our problems own us.

I happen to believe God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent; all knowing, all present, all powerful. I believe he controls our fate and knows what will happen before it takes place. But with that mighty power comes the gift of freewill. God did not create us so that he could force us to love him and live a life for him. God chose to love us first, and desires for us to love him back; but he will not force it. Forced love is not genuine love and he’s interested in a real relationship. We have a choice of how we will live and spend our time on earth, and while God desires to guide us, lead us, bless us, and essentially make our lives less complicated, it’s up to us whether or not we let him. And often we think we know best.

That being said, I believe the Lord gives us the power, knowledge, and the ability to deal with the messy, hard parts of life as they arise, but it’s up to us to come to him with these issues and seek his counsel. God does not desire that we spend our lives in bitterness, sorrow, depression, and unhealthy habits. He wants us to learn and grow and deal with life as it comes along. He does not promise a perfect life free from pain and sorrow. In fact he often calls us into long, cold seasons in life that don’t seem to make any sense to us at the time, but which serves a greater purpose we will one day understand. But he does promise to never leave us nor forsake us, and he’s told us he would never give us more than we could handle. So our issues don’t come from what God has given us or cursed us with. Our issues come from our self when we fight with what God asks us to do and when we choose to neglect him all together. God’s plans for our lives are fairly simple; we choose to make them complicated.

I’ve watched myself and far too many other people be held back in life by no one other than our own self. Although we often don’t recognize that we are the ones to blame, we’d see it if we set aside our defenses and excuses and took a step back.

Who are you blaming for the struggles your facing? What is causing you to stay in the pit your in, instead of building up that muscle and climbing on out? What’s been your excuse and why aren’t you owning it? I’m asking myself these same questions as I ask them to you. Life is short, friends. We get one shot. Whether our issues are big or small, we should consistently be evaluating how we approach them.

In the words of Switchfoot, this is your life. Are you who you want to be?

If not, then why? We’ve got to own our problems or they will own us.