The sticky stuff. The uncomfortable situations life puts us into. Discomfort when confronted with an issue you don’t feel at ease with or know much about. It is everywhere: hard times at home, discontent with a coworker, encountering people we don’t understand, class reunions. There are small, mainly insignificant “sticky situations” and there are those that set our worlds aflame.
We live in a world full of people who are different from us, that believe different things than we do and see the world through different lenses. Disagreement and variations of opinion are bound to bring up tense situations. Differences create conflict and lead to sticky situations. It is not in our natural human nature to accept another’s views as merely different from our own and move on.
My personal sticky situations
When encountering my first chance to serve at the local homeless shelter, I did not have the feelings of selfish abandonment that I had envisioned. Hoping for confidence and boundless love, I settled into an uncomfortable rhythm serving soup while I attempted to smile and make conversation. Throughout the entire evening I was frustrated with myself. As a Christian I am told to reach my hand out to the poor and help those less fortunate. Yet here I was feeling out of commission because I did not know how to interact with the homeless who simply wanted their warm meal.
At my husband’s recent alumni soccer game he ran into an old friend and was chatting with him after the match ended. As I approached, I realized that I also knew this guy even though I am several years younger and attended a different high school. His mother was the only teacher I ever had that did not like me. I wouldn’t say that I was a teacher’s pet, but I was a good student and got on well with all of my teachers. It was so evident that this teacher did not care for me that my mother recognized it when helping out during a class function. Go figure, she is standing right next to my husband as I approached. I clearly remember her, but as we begin talking I realize that she has me mixed up with another girl from my class. Crisis averted! I had been thinking of how lovely a conversation I would have with the woman who made my sixth grade science class miserable, but instead she was friendly and told stories about my husband from his younger years.
Each of these situations is filled with human emotion, situational perspective, and the enemy poking at insecurities. Why is this important to point out? Because we do not have the ability to control any of it. God has everything under control and we have to trust that He will lead us through our storms and sticky situations. He tells us in His word that we can stand up in our troubles because He is there with us always. Even if the hard times are due to our mistakes or emotions, He is there to guide us as the ever patient parent.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. -Deuteronomy 31:6
We look at our tiny, insignificant issues that make us feel uncomfortable as being world ending. But if we were to step out of the moment and look down upon our current situation as God would, we would see the entire world around us dealing with real issues: poverty, sex slavery, genocide. It’s a sobering thought to consider when wrapped into our little world of issues.
Our sticky situations capture our attention so easily when we wear our blinders and tune out the world. Some days it feels as though all we can do is survive through our issues. But removing the blinders, even in the scary times we live in, actually opens us up to handle our lives because we can see what else is out there. We are given perspective.
Step back out of your suffocating mess. Look around you at the world, and feel what the people are feeling. You will likely feel an empathy you were missing previously, and it will lessen the grip your problems have on your heart. Of course, then you will have a new problem: the world’s issues will come onto your mind and you will have new causes to pursue. You may find yourself passionate about helping young women meet God after they escape sex slavery in a town near you. But I promise, stepping away from your own issues to notice the world around you will refocus your life.
What have you found yourself passionate about when you focus on the hurts of the world over yourself?