Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When Will My Life Not Suck?

Before I go any further, I have to clear one item up. One might assume that any person reading a book titled When Will My Life Not Suck must, in fact, believe that their life currently inhales with great force.

I assure you, this is not the case.

I am very much like a middle school boy and I was drawn to the book because of its blatant use of a word I tend to avoid. What can I say, the immature tendencies still rise up within me.

This book by Ramon Presson has a subtitle; Authentic Hope for the Disillusioned. Nope, I don't feel like I have a bitter taste in my mouth towards life either. Though we should not judge a book by its' cover, I do often find myself sucked in (pun intended) by a title.

I am glad I did. Ramon is a counselor by trade and he has plenty of experience dealing with people who, to be sure, have told him how much their life just isn't what they had hoped for.

He believes a perspective shift is required. Using the book of Philippians, Ramon takes us on a journey of the life and times of the Apostle Paul. When writing the cheery book to the church in Philippi, Paul found himself relaxing deep in the shangri-la of a Roman prison.

He had no hope of escape. He had no end line that wasn't his death. Yet we get such gems from Paul as:

The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. ~1:18

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. ~2:17-18

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. ~3:7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ~4:4

Yeah, Paul rejoices through the whole letter with no tangents for complaints. So Ramon takes us through how we can do the same thing in our own lives. Here are a couple of my highlights.

On living like Paul;
I’m totally on board with Paul’s first two desires: knowing Christ and experiencing his power—that sounds like great stuff. But what about number three, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings? Are you kidding me? What kind of present on your Christmas wish list is that?

On dealing with the bad stuff;
I have discovered in my years of counseling that most people can endure almost anything if they are assured of at least one of two things: 1) they are loved or 2) the current situation or condition is temporary and will either improve or completely pass.

On what to do after the bad stuff happens;
It’s not wrong to ask why, but don’t stake your happiness or your faithfulness on getting a satisfactory answer. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shifts the question from why to what next. The people’s implied question is both past tense (why did that happen?) and pointed outward, away from the speaker (why did that happen to them?). Jesus asks a more immediate and personal question: How are you going to live now?

On helping others with their baggage;
My clients often hear this phrase from me: “Yes, your concern is valid and your pain is true. But it’s not the only truth.”

In the end Ramon reminds us that if we truly feel our lives are not what they could be or should be, then we have to make some difficult decisions about how our lives can be different.

One step for you could be checking out this book.

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