“Adaption is a profound process.
It means you figure out how to thrive in the world.”
My personal experience has been that much of my stress, frustration, depression and even anger has often been a failure to adapt. To be sure, there are some areas where there is no wiggle room, like biblical absolutes or God’s Truth. Yet, for most of us that’s not our area of exasperation.
Chuck Swindoll in his wonderful book from some years ago on marriage, Strike the Original Match, shares a powerful analogy:
Imagine that you are planning a trip to Hawaii. You have all of your suitcases packed full of funny-looking Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops, sunscreen, and big hats. You step onto the plane and you are in a great mood – you’re going to Hawaii, after all! You imagine the sunshine, the birds singing, the fresh pineapple, and the beautiful beachside villa that will be your home for the vacation.
Suddenly, the plane veers off course and instead of landing in Hawaii, you’ve landed in the Swiss Alps. The weather is snowy and cold, and instead of staying in a beachside villa, your accommodations will be a small, drafty chalet. You have no clothes for the Alps, not to mention shoes, and you are standing in the snow, shivering.
You now have a choice to make: You can either decide to go on with your vacation as if you were in Hawaii, walking around in your flip-flops and crazy Hawaiian shirts, or you can change course. You can decide to buy heavier clothes and appropriate shoes, and you can even fix up that drafty old chalet so that it becomes quite a lovely home. If you make the latter choice, you might find that your vacation, while unexpected, has become quite a wonderful adventure. Your time in the Swiss Alps will be even more amazing than you could have ever imagined your trip to Hawaii would be, if you choose to adapt.
Marriage is like planning a trip to Hawaii and ending up in the Swiss Alps (or vice versa!). The Swiss Alps are lovely, but they are very different from Hawaii. There are many unexpected conditions and events in a marriage, and if we stick to our initial expectations, we will be sorely disappointed and uncomfortable. However, if we are able to adapt and change our plans, marriage can become a beautiful adventure.
It’s not just marriage, it’s all of life from child-rearing, to friendship, to church, to even car maintenance and home ownership. Shortly, after Jane and I were married and in our first ministry, we returned to our alma mater and one of the professors was chatting with Jane, Dr. Monty Budahl, and he said to her, “Do you want to know the key to ministry?” Jane was expecting something extremely profound. But Dr. Budahl, who is one of the most gracious men that we’ve ever met said one word – “Adaptability!” That, my friend, is profound! Much of our angst in life is self-perpetuated. We are the victims of our own expectations.
We set ourselves up for anxiety when we expect the ideal. In marriage, there is no Cinderella and there is no Prince Charming. There are only a couple of sinful “frogs,” that no matter how many times that you kiss them are still green and a bit slimy. Children have minds and wills. They are also born with a sin nature that they inherited from their parents. Every human friendship and relationship, including your brothers and sisters in Christ – and the pastor, will disappoint you, disagree and differ with you. That’s what our greatest resource of Truth tells us – the Bible. We’re all a mess which is why we needed King Jesus to rescue us.
We set ourselves up for anxiety when we compare ourselves with others. The Apostle Paul wisely wrote, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12). Studies reveal that Facebook is a great source of unhappiness and discontent. Many of us actually believe that our friends live lives like they post. It’s a bit like a bad movie. Hollywood always puts the very best scenes in the commercials. Everyone you meet has the same issues with their spouse, children, friends, church, etc., that you do.
We set ourselves up for anxiety when we are self-focused. Jesus commanded us to serve Him and others. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Do you want peace and fulfillment? First, look up. Realize and thank your Heavenly Father that He is there, He is in control. There are no accidents in your life. Second, look for how you can serve, encourage and be a blessing to someone else. It’s simply amazing how, when we become God and others focused, what a medicine it is for our own soul.
Joy and peace begin when we realize that we are not in the driver’s seat. Okay, true confession time – the ultimate compliment that I can give you is if when we are going someplace, I let you drive. When I was younger, I remember being exasperated when someone else was driving and I was told we were going one place but the truth was that that was merely the first place of many places. When it comes to life, when it comes to relationships – we are not in the driver’s seat – God is. That’s the comfort and peace that comes from trusting that “God’s way is perfect” (Ps. 18:30).
As we read the pages of Scripture, we see that the person that God uses and works in their life often was taken places that they would not have personally chosen. But our Father truly does know best and in love wants what’s best for us! You can trust Him. That’s why a lot of flexibility goes a long way and the final beneficiary ultimately is you!
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.