Here’s an experience written by someone who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Both young and old will relate.
“Wow...only in Phoenix Arizona. You will not believe what I saw this morning. I pulled into the QT gasoline station to get some coffee. As I was walking in, I noticed two police officers watching a man who was smoking while pumping gas. I saw him and thought, ‘Is that man stupid or crazy?’ He is even doing this with two officers standing close to him.
"Anyway, I went inside and got my coffee. As I was checking out, I heard someone screaming. I looked out the window and saw that the man's arm was on fire. He was swinging his arm and running around going crazy. I ran outside and saw the officers put him on the ground. They were putting the fire out with their coffee. Then they put handcuffs on him and threw him in their cruiser.
"I was thinking ‘What kind of person smokes near a gas pump? Isn’t it illegal?’ Being the curious person that I am, I asked one of the officers what they were arresting him for. The officer looked me square in the eyes and said, ‘Waving a firearm.’"
Aha! I got most of you - hook, line, and sinker. I can feel your pain now as you read the last line. No, it’s not a true story but in today’s world, it sure could be. What I would like to point out here is a life lesson. Sometimes you go through a whole story and get to the end of the story and get an ending you never suspected would happen. This story sets us up for something we didn’t expect…surprise!
You may have thought you were going to be happily married for the rest of your life and…surprise. Maybe death takes your loved one. Maybe your loved one gets into an affair. Maybe you get into an affair. Maybe one of your children has a crisis. It could be anything.
You thought your stock market account and retirement plan would just keep on growing and growing…surprise! You thought you would get that promotion and…surprise. Yep, someone else got it who is not half as qualified as you (at least that’s your opinion). You thought that keeping fit and eating right would give you a free pass to a healthy life and…surprise. You know the drill.
It’s even worse for people near the end of their lives. Sometimes, health is…interesting. You just went through a challenging medical procedure and your body says, “Oh, that was nothing, wait till you see what I have for you next!” This could be said of life too.
Great beginnings with disappointing or surprise endings frustrate us because of our expectations. A real key to the quality of life is learning how to manage your expectations. I call it ‘Minding the Gap.’ If you have been to London, you will know that statement. There is a gap between where you are (on the platform) and where you want to be (inside the subway train). If you don’t mind the gap, part of you will fall into the gap.
While most men would think of depression as a woman’s problem, it’s also a man’s problem. Did you know eighty-two percent of all men suffer from depression? Why? Men struggle with where they expected to be at a certain time and where they are currently. When the gap gets too big, men get depressed. A man’s ‘work’ determines his significance, outlook, etc. The truth is that only two percent of people in the world make it to where they expected to be when they expected to. That’s tough to measure up to.
Depression produces deadness in us. What’s deadness? It’s when it’s hard to get emotionally ‘cooking’ again. We don’t want to put up with the ‘crap.’ It’s hard to get our vision, focus, and joy back. It’s when we feel what we do doesn’t make any difference. We think, ‘who cares.’ It’s when we can’t get above the water like we used to. We feel tired, irritable, depleted, frustrated, disoriented, fearful, threatened, disconnected, or isolated. We’re screaming for life, but we can’t get to it. You’re alive, but parts of you feel dead.
What do many people do then? Try to stimulate the area of deadness. This is called acting-out. What happens next? We medicate. We want to get away from the pain and deadness. We want to feel alive again. We look for someone or something that does that. It could be anything…drugs, another person, another location, pornography, alcohol, isolation, or withdrawal.
Get the picture? Most everyone from time to time will need to learn to manage 'the gap.' Jesus told us that in human life there will be, from time to time, trials and tribulations, great times and not so great times.
Real success is being a person of peace with yourself, your family, and with others, whether in business, with friends, or at church. Take your focus off yourself and the shame that it brings. What we need is peace. Say to yourself, “I have done the best I can, I have tried, some of it didn’t work out the way I expected, but I’m still here. I will finish strong, not wrong.” Run to God, not from God. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives you peace do I give to you peace. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”