Sometimes I feel like my family spends half the week at the grocery store.
It’s nearby, it’s an easy outing with the kids, and even though I meal plan we somehow always run out of stuff halfway through the week. And then usually again by the weekend. Food is mysterious like that. Who knew.
All to say, we see a lot of the supermarket these days.
To get there, we have to turn left at a traffic light and then immediately get into the right lane to access the entrance. On the other side of that intersection is a yield sign for oncoming drivers as they merge into the right lane.
But nobody ever yields there.
We have lived in this town for five years, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times another driver has actually observed the yield sign and let me get into the right lane after my turn. Almost always, they just blaze on through without regard to the sign and I can’t get into the lane without some difficulty. Sometimes I have to drive a ways down the road past the store before I can get across just to turn around.
It makes me crazy! I mean, come on. Let me into the lane, guy! I’m just trying to do my groceries here. Like, so that my family and I can actually eat.
Have you ever gone through seasons of life where it feels like you just can’t get where you need to be?
I have. More than once.
Maybe you’re there, right now. Maybe you're carrying a dream, a vision of what you want to do or where you’d like to go. And maybe it feels like that vision, for whatever reason, just can’t progress. You feel stuck. You feel like you’re being forced to move away from your goal, not invited or encouraged to come closer to it.
In seasons of frustration and delay and waiting, it becomes really hard not to fall into the trap of comparison and blame.
When I feel that someone else is taking advantage of their positioning and not making room for me, I begin to feel powerless. It feels like an assault on my identity.
Sometimes this is just a warp in my perception but sometimes it is actually reality, in the sense that relationships do clash and people do use their positioning poorly and people sometimes just don’t see the need of the person who is literally right next to them.
When we compete for position or push ahead blindly in our own paths instead of seeing one another and making room for one another and actually listening to one another, at some point somebody’s deepest hopes and dreams get caught in the crossfire, because our deepest hopes and dreams are always attached to relationship.
That’s what makes relationships simultaneously amazing and terrifying. We can’t get where we need to be without other people helping us and making way for us and moving with us.
Moving forward into something meaningful with other people is an incredibly vulnerable journey. It opens us up to the possibility of intense hurt and disappointment. At some point every one of us will encounter people who bully us, reject us, overlook us, or fail to advocate for us in a moment of need.
And we ourselves will do this to others too, sometimes without even realizing it.
But when you’re on the receiving end of a hurt, it’s so important to see that people problems - when they come - aren’t dead ends. They’re not a threat to our calling, our identity, or our worth.
People problems are opportunities.
I’ve always found that the root of my people problems is really a God problem. When I feel threatened, scared, hurt, or frustrated by the behaviour of other people toward me, the pressure starts to reveal what I really believe about God underneath it all.
Underneath the affirmation and support of others, one question remains: do we really believe that the Father loves, affirms, and enjoys us? Or is our understanding of his love dependent on being treated well by people and getting what we want from them?
Ultimately, the comparison and blame game leads me into my deepest questions about God’s goodness.
People mess up. People will fail me. That’s a given. But when those moments of disappointment or conflict come, I can fall back into the truth that God cares about me, and that no matter how people treat me, he is still in charge.
In human conflicts, surrendering to an opponent means you failed. You were weaker. You couldn’t overcome. Someone else was more powerful than you.
But in God, surrender doesn’t make me weaker. It makes me stronger. Falling out of my power is the only way for me to fall into his.
And in a moment of surrender, letting go of the way I wanted things to be done and what I wanted other people to do for me is what actually releases God to act for me in his perfect way.
Letting go of the anxiety that I need to control or bully others to get what I need, or that I can’t trust others to carry the weight of my heart, is what releases peace to actually move forward into God’s plan.
At the dead end of all my hopes, there he is, inviting me to come out from behind the opinions of others and every hurt and disappointment, and step forward into the future with him.
Disappointment can’t come with me. It has to fall away in order for me to move on. And it can fall away in the presence of Jesus. He is so, so good.
When people won’t yield for me, I can still yield to him. And that is what makes me powerful.