Twice this week I got phone calls. From two separate people. People I care about. Not family. But people I love just the same.
Two different people. Two different circumstances. Different challenges.
Two people who trust me enough to lean on me for support. Two people who know me well enough (and who have let me know them well enough) to understand I'm a judgment-free zone.
This week was a rather slow week. ;)
I almost never go an entire day without getting such a call. I'm that guy! And I love being that guy. Because empathy is understanding and compassion is empathy in action.
Everybody has problems. Some problems are really awful. Others are more trivial but don't feel that way at the moment. It's our life and to us it's important. Vexing. Worrisome. Painful. Fretful.
Again, I don't judge it. I lean into my empathy (which is understanding), then I go all-in on compassion (which is the action empathy takes). But this isn't about me. It's about YOU. Well, okay, it's about ALL OF US.
Let's start with some hard truths.
Here in America, there's quite a lot of political unrest. Some want to impeach the President. Some oppose that. Here's the truth - your life might be impacted by the presidency, but not very much. The United States is still a free republic. Elected officials and unelected officials aren't to blame for whatever may be wrong in your life. And they won't help you fix it. Or sustain whatever success you may be experiencing. You may be very interested in all that stuff, which is fine. Just don't fool yourself into thinking that if your candidate were in office, it'd all be better. No, it wouldn't. It'll be better when you contribute to making your own life - and the lives of others around you - better!
Your parents won't save you. Well, okay, maybe they will. Maybe they'll try. And in doing so they'll be unintentionally hurting you more than they're helping. If you're under 40 there's quite a lot you've yet to experience. Among them...being smacked in the mouth with a major economic downturn. If you're under 30 and healthy odds are you don't have much of a clue about adversity. Mom and dad can't save you from every enemy attack. You have to learn to fight for yourself.
You're not in full control, but that doesn't give you the right to make excuses. I'm a Christian. If you're not, even if you're opposed to Jesus Christ, I'm not here to fight or berate your opposition. I'm simply providing you my context so you can better understand my perspective and why I believe what I do. This is important because humanism has elevated us - human beings - to godlike status. I don't subscribe to that notion because I believe in God, I believe the Bible is the word of God, and I believe Jesus Christ is God's Son who came from heaven and died so we could be reconciled back to God. In short, I believe Jesus is the Savior based on the Gospel story. Again, you don't have to agree with me, but it explains why I don't follow humanism and the notion that we have the degree of control stoics and other popular humanism philosophies espouse.
Accountability and control aren't synonymous terms. At least not the way I'm using them. We're all accountable. To God, to ourselves and to each other. But our control is limited. We're unable to control all the things that may happen to us. Some things happen because of our own foolishness, our own ignorance and our own ineptness. But some things happen in spite of our best efforts. Sometimes things don't work out even though we did everything as right as possible. External circumstances are often beyond our control. Timing is a real thing. So is serendipity. Then there are others. None of us are able to control others.
All of this is important not so we can make excuses or point fingers, but so we can be more determined to do our part to create and contribute to our own success. Our growth is largely within our control and nothing else.