Cry "Uncle!"

By Diana Laskaris, Stephen Ministry Leader

Life can be frustrating. We work hard, play by the rules, try to be the caring people we know we were meant to be. And yet, nothing works. The toast falls butter side down. There’s an illness that can’t be fixed. We get a sense that everyone else is moving further ahead, while you fall further behind. Even though you may work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, your bank account doesn’t show it. It feels like the hamster wheel you’ve heard about. Only now it’s your life. Control is just an illusion, but we grasp harder to control whatever we can.

Perhaps that’s why it seems like there are so many people walking around angry. You know the ones. The ones that refuse to let you into their lane of traffic. The ones that rush ahead of you to checkout at the store. The ones that look down at their mobile phone even when they’re sitting at the dinner table with their “loved ones.” How loved can anyone feel at a table full of people who are not even looking at them?

There was a movie years ago called “Mr. Mom.” Michael Keaton played a husband and father who got laid off from his job. He then switched duties with his wife, who returned to work. Becoming a stay-at-home dad, he sadly learns that he knows absolutely nothing about what apparently everyone else around him has perfected. Even dropping off the kids at school earns him snide comments from other parents and the parking attendant. “You’re doing it wrong,” they sneer.

Well, I’m not sure if there’s a right way to do life. But there are certainly times when we feel like “we’re doing it wrong.” It’s hard to see everyone else out there smiling and laughing as though they get it, they’ve got the secret, they understand what to do and how to do it.  Sometimes, the harder we try, the more we dig ourselves into the quicksand that seems to be devouring us.

When that happens, I find, the best thing to do is to cry “Uncle!” You know, to stop, take a deep breath and quit trying to create our own answers can we discover that perhaps we’re not even asking the right questions.

I’m not sure if “doing it wrong” is a way of life. But there is a way to get closer to or further away from God. Whatever troubles you, whatever bothers me, God already knows about it. And the only way I’ve ever found to see more clearly or find a better path is to let go of my sense of control and cry “Uncle!” Maybe in the stillness, I can find some better answers. Or some better questions. At least I know that if I stop spinning on the hamster wheel for a little while I’ll allow some room for God. And maybe, just maybe, that will be enough.