There are a lot of unhappy people in this world, aren’t there? My wife and I were walking in our neighborhood the other day and we started talking about how many times we wave at people and all we get is a grumpy face. And we even live in the South!
There seems to be a palatable absence of joy all around us. We hide it well enough when we are up close and personal. We duck tape our families up on Sunday mornings at church and put on the best smile we can.
It’s only when you get a person to open up about their true feelings that you start to see what is really going on in their heart. What I have found is that most people are frustrated with life. There are a million small ways in which life can become frustrating.
I don’t though think that it’s the small little things that go wrong that makes us so unhappy. It’s the way in which we look at the million small problems that is the root of our discontent and disharmony. We end up believing a lie and the more we believe this lie, the more we will be frustrated with life.
Here it is: We expect life to be perfect.
Now, most of us wouldn’t say so, but when you think about it, why are you so upset with your spouse and children? Why do you dislike your neighbors so much? Why are you angry at your child’s coach? Why are you going to leave your church? Because they are destroying your dreams of perfection. Everything is supposed to go smoothly. Everything is supposed to work out according to your plan. If it wasn’t for the teacher, spouse, child, pastor, coach, neighbor, boss, co-worker, waitress, retail worker, crazy driver in front of me and/or in back of me, or my dog, life would be great. It even gets more complicated when you have 2 people living under the same roof with 2 different ideas of the perfect life. No wonder divorce is skyrocketing.
Why do we believe this myth of perfection? We know it’s not right. We live in a fallen world filled with 7 billion sinners (of which you are one). When God cursed Adam and Eve after the Fall of man, He basically told them, life is going to be hard now. Yet we expect heaven on earth. Sound like we are trying to recapture Eden without God all over again.
When we look at all the tiny little things that don’t seem to go right, we have a choice to look at them as enemies to our dreams of perfection, or opportunities for redemption. Yes, we are the ones who opened up Pandora’s box of sin on the world, yet Jesus came into the world to redeem what was lost and reconcile what was broken.
Jesus walked into this world with all its sin, suffering, disease, pain, and disharmony, and over came it. He never promised to give you your best life now, but He did promise life eternal and abundant. All you have to do is read the end of Hebrews 11 to see that our expectations for perfection are never totally realized this side of eternity. We should expect hardship. I love what Peter says in his first epistle in 4:12. He basically says that we shouldn’t be surprised at trials and hardships as if some strange thing is happening to us.
We need to expect all the tiny little things in life to go wrong. God uses those moments to shape us and mold us into Christ. Your light will always shine greater, not when you are living your life of perfection, but when you are exuding joy in the midst of your life when everything seems to be going wrong.
Something will go wrong today. Expect it. Embrace it. Let God give you the eyes to see your life through His lens of grace and redemption. When we start loving others in spite of their actions, we will begin to walk like Jesus becoming agents of change, instead of lords of perfection.