On Not Settling

Do we always have to settle for “it is what it is”—to surrender to the status quo?

Too often, it feels like we do.  Inertia, habit, and sameness seem stronger than any hope we have for change.

We know, for instance, what happens to New Year’s resolutions. We’re determined to lose weight, but the diet ends with wings and nachos at the Super Bowl party.

We’re going to get in better shape; but, on a string of cold March mornings, we pull the warm covers closer to us and sleep past the time to go to the gym. 

We decide it’s time to get out of debt, but, when the kids actually really, really want something, it’s easier to use the credit card than to say “no.”

Maybe we’re in a broken relationship. We promise ourselves that we’ll risk the hard conversations and do the difficult work of reconciliation. The first couple of attempts to drag the issues out of the shadows into the light prove painful, though, and we can’t muster the energy to keep trying.

Our company or organization takes on a strategic planning process. It begins with so much optimism; but, not long after the off-site is over, the consultant has turned in her report, and the board has given its enthusiastic “thumbs up,” the Empire of Business-as-Usual Strikes Back.

A better future gets buried under mountains of monotonous email about the “crisis” du jour. We continue to spend countless hours in endless meetings which make us feel like we’re doing something when, in fact, we’re avoiding doing the things which most need doing.

Our resistance to change hurts us more than the pain of change. In Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott said: “Burnout happens, not because we are trying to solve problems, but because we are trying to solve he same problems over and over.”

The first step in change is simply to stop proving the wisdom of that overworked definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results.

As Will Rogers famously said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” We might not yet know how to refill the hole, get back on level ground, and move in a new direction; but we can at least stop digging. 

And, we can trust that God will energize us as we take on the challenging work of constructive change. That trust is crucial because we’ve repeatedly proven to ourselves that we can’t do it on our own. God has hopes and dreams for our lives, is on the side of our flourishing, and offers us, moment by movement, a better way. 

We embody God’s presence for one another. We remind each other we’re all in this together, that our faults and flaws aren’t fatal, and that love makes transformation possible.

We pick each other up when we fall and, when possible, bear one another’s burdens.

We hold each other accountable, which means that we won’t let each other settle for “it is what it is.” We nudge and encourage each other to choose the better way, the way toward the abundant and joyful life we’re meant to live.