July 24, 2012

A World Full of Cactus


"The World is full of cactus.  
But you don't have to sit on it."
Proverb

Although circumstances often occur that I cannot control, I do have the opportunity to decide how I am going to react.

I remember when I started to realize that my world was growing at a faster rate than I could control: I was in high school and faced with the decision of selecting a college and for the first time I began to really consider how my choices affected my future.  Until that point, my world had been small and many decisions were made for me by default.  I had always been a planner and in some ways hid behind my ability to think ahead and anticipate scenarios.  Thanks to a predictable life, I was not often forced to be flexible.

As I entered college, I found that if a situation did not go the way I had planned (and I got stuck in the cactus), my gut reaction was to stress out, stew and try my best to change the situation.  Instead of looking for an alternative solution or considering the possibility that God was guiding my steps to a different path, I was bent on making it go a certain way--my way.

This mentality exhausted me.  I lived abroad for two summers in college and experienced situations where not only did I have no control, but I was not surrounded by my usual comforts.  I knew I had to make a decision: would I let circumstances rule me or would I learn to control my reactions?  Would I start seeing twists and turns as Divine intervention or annoying interruptions? In other words, I had to learn to choose to not sit on the cactus.

Can you relate to a similar mindset in your life?  "Life Cacti" are everywhere and they range in size from a couple of inches (like my photo above) to the Saguaro Cactus, which can grow taller than a five-story building.  They grow slowly, and sometimes we may not see them until we stumble upon them.

As I reflect back on that mindset now, I can still see similar patterns play out in my day to day life.  Of course, I want life to play out perfectly in a neat package.  However, I remember that I live in an imperfect world, full of cacti.  This doesn't discourage me, but it points me back towards God and increases my joyful expectation of heaven--a place where I will be surrounded by perfection.

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