Tag Archives: self-control

Are you a human being or a human doing?

I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from close friends, family members and even acquaintances that have an overwhelming need to vent. These calls or conversations last at least an hour or two. If I had to group these conversations into a category, I would name them “mid-life discontent” or something of that nature. I have listened to both men and women who range in age from late 30s to early 50s.

I am a pretty good listener. I really try to understand their perspective. I also try to imagine the other person’s perspective, too. Often times, after listening for a long, long time, what I suggest is not what they want to hear. Why? Because usually it is true and it is hard to do. Believe me, I know this to be true because I have good friends who will listen to me and suggest the wise course, which I sometimes do not want to take!

I called these conversations “mid-life discontent” because my callers are usually not happy about a situation in their lives. Sometimes, it is a result of their choices. Other times, it is a result of their spouse’s choices. Often times, it is because they chose to act before seeking wise counsel or discerning God’s will. In our hurry-up-and-go world full of messages of instant gratification, slowing down and listening and pondering the right choice is not even considered. It seems that we have taken in the lie that we should always be “doing” something versus “being” someone.

I work really hard to be a human “being”. I try not to rush ahead to solve a problem or to accomplish my own game plan before listening and discerning. Sometimes, I am accused of being “lazy” or not being open to a change. That is not so! If only the accusers understood how much self-control it takes for me to slow down, listen and wait!!! It is not in my nature to do these things. It has taken considerable prayer and change for me to get to this point. I like to “do” just as much as anyone, but I have learned the hard way that “being” is much better than “doing.” So, even when I am being confronted for my lack of “doing”, I fall back on prayer and listen to God’s will. It has served me much, much better than my old human “doing”…Now, if I could just get more people to try it!

 

You don’t have to be a navy seal to know what to do in choppy waters

When my brother-in-law was stationed in Hawaii with the navy, my husband and I had an affordable way to visit the islands. In a real, physical way, I learned on that trip that you don’t have to be a navy seal to know what to do in choppy waters.

I went snorkeling for the first time in Hanauma Bay. Once I got over the awkwardness of the snorkeling equipment, I was in awe of what was swimming all around me. The view of the exotic fish along with the undulations of the coral reef was intoxicating. I could not pull myself away from the beauty of this indescribable scene. I have no idea how long I was snorkeling, when giant waves seemed to appear out of nowhere. (If any islanders are reading this, they are probably laughing at that idea, but to a “haole,” it seemed true.)

I was in no position to deal with these waves. Less than a foot below me was the beautiful, but razor-sharp, coral reef. I thought to myself, “If only I could go deep…” Instead, I frantically swam against the waves, scraping myself to get to a clearer section of water and to the safety of the beach.

This situation came to mind recently when I was talking with a wise friend of mine. I was sharing that I had been struggling with many things in my life that all seem to be coming at me at once. (If a wise person is reading this, he/she is probably laughing at this idea, but to me, a fool with little faith, it seemed true. ) My wise friend shared this analogy:

Ask anyone who has served on a naval submarine when do the most sailors get seasick? They will tell you that it’s when the sub is at the surface and the water starts getting choppy. Thankfully, they are on a sub, and they can decide to “go deep.” They just head downwards into the deep sea where the water is calm.

He suggested  to me that there are times in life when we are in choppy waters. It’s for these moments that we should develop a strong prayer life and already practice virtues like patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. When we recognize choppy waters, we need to “go deep” and rely on these things. Down deep, the waters are smooth and calm and peaceful. When he told me this, I visualized a submarine blowing its horn from the old movies. Now, when the waters get choppy in my life, I hear that sound in my head and “go deep.” And boy what a difference it makes.