I've been on both sides of this situation in many ways. There are so many things you would like to do in your life, and you often wish that your circumstances were different but you feel trapped.
You're a victim of societal expectations which include prioritizing your career to just about the same level as God and your family but, by matter of individual interpretation (which is usually defined by your boss), just below the level of God and family. This way, you are able to be convinced that your long work days, distracting phone calls at home, and mental separation from any family interaction or time with God are justified and appropriate.
Or, maybe you are suddenly and without notice propelled into this new category of "single mom". You have no time to even be upset or overly emotional about the situation because life has to keep going: Work, kids, school, bills. If anything, your extra time is spent trying to figure out how each one of your kids is handling the situation so that you can intervene as needed to try and reduce the scars as much as possible in the future . . . exhausting. At least he took the dog, right? Ugh, you loved that dog too.
Let me see, there are so many other reasons regarding "time" and the inability for individuals to live their lives as they would like.
- "I only get a certain amount of vacation a year and I spend that with my family."
- "I would never ask my boss if I could take the time off. He/she would think I was totally crazy for thinking I could ask for any time off to do something as unimportant as serving others across the world in the name of God. Let's be honest, it's a vacation, and I would be viewed as a wimp that's obviously not dedicated to the company just to be passed over for any promotions in the future."
- "My husband and I are trying to have kids right now. My husband and I just had a baby. My kids are too young right now. My kids are too busy right now. My kids’ college bills are draining us. My kid is getting married. My kid is having a baby." I think you get the idea.
Oh my gosh, they all wear me out. For many reasons but mainly because I utilized a lot of those excuses, and they worked for a while; however, they never felt good.
Even as you speak them from your mouth, I know what internal game you are playing with yourself. I can pretty much categorize them into four distinct entities. For the record, I have felt the emotions of each one. But, WAIT until you find out the most interesting thing about ALL of these.
- BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, COULD YOU JUST TWEET ABOUT THIS AND GET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM? "If I give her an excuse, maybe she will leave me alone once and for all. Seriously, the last thing I want to do is spend my precious money and time traveling across the world in those dirty conditions just to have a bunch of orphans hang all over me. That may be how she chooses to use her precious resources but not me. My idea of a vacation is taking care of myself with a drink in my hand. I deserve it."
- SQUIRREL! CAN WE CHANGE THE CONVERSATION PLEASE? "I'm just going to sit here and listen to her stories about the trip and act totally excited and willing to listen, giving her the idea that I would possibility go myself one day. I would seriously like to go at some point, but right now is not the time. Once she gets all of this out of her system, we can move onto other important conversations like whose daughter got caught with the "bad boy" and what is posted on Facebook about it."
- DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN PRINCESS? "Yeah, must be nice to be able just to travel around the world on vacation and "help" (wink, wink) orphans and widows in need. But, really? Some of us have to stay here and work to pay bills. We have responsibilities that she obviously doesn't have to worry about."
Do you want to build a snowman? Princess?
- OH MY GOSH, SHE HAS MY LEASH! "I want to go! I want to go! Sign me up! I can't believe I didn't do this earlier. I'm totally doing this!" An hour later, you walk out of the door of Starbucks, and the reality of life hits you in the face. How dare you even think for a moment that you could make a trip like that happen!
So what's the secret? What do all four of these have in common?
I never even asked you to go on a mission trip with me. I never even implied that you should go. I didn't officially invite you to play this game of excuses. In fact, the majority of the time YOU asked me about it.
Sure, it would be super cool if you went and experienced the things I have. I wish that for anyone because it is a life-changer for everyone.
I have NEVER heard anyone on my trips regret their decision to go. I've never heard anyone say, "Well, that was okay, but let's go to Disney world now!"
In fact, people rearrange their whole lives to go again.
Some have quit their jobs to find another that's more service oriented. (It's so odd to go from worshiping your boss to worshiping God and feeling sorry for your boss.)
Others refuse to take a job that would interfere with their trips.
And some people even PLAN CONCEPTION of their children around the timings of the trips! (Yes, you did read that right).
I challenge you to think about the excuse game you secretly allow yourself to play in your head all of the time.
Often, we don't even realize the reasons why we do things or what our end goal is.
Take some time to figure out what's important to you. I encourage you to do this through prayer and under the direction of God if you are a believer.
If you're not a believer, I still challenge you to think about your goals and dreams for your life and then work towards them.
Sure, the act of implementing a plan to reach your goals may be intimidating and scary, but how sweet will it be when you start accomplishing those goals and begin to make new ones?
Who knows where you will end up or the lives you will change!
You may find yourself in Starbucks sharing your story over and over again.