Monday Morning Memo for November 21, 2005
By Roy H. Williams
Finances. Relationships. Health… the tall monsters we face in life’s dark ocean when we awaken underwater, alone in the night, not knowing what to do.
Ever been there?
People respond to deep crisis in different ways. There are:
1. Handwringers who talk about the problem to anyone who will listen. “You just won’t believe what I’m going through.”
2. Dark worriers who internalize the problem, then grow despondent and depressed. “Life sucks and then you die.”
3. Positive thinkers who prop themselves up with platitudes: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “It’s not the size of dog in the fight that counts, it’s the size of fight in the dog,” etc.
4. Analytical planners who gather the data, calculate the odds, do whatever makes the most sense, then resign themselves to the eventual outcome. “I’ve done all that I can do.”
5. People who abandon steps 1 through 4 and run to God like little girls. “Daddy! Daddy! Save me!”
Does it surprise you that I’ve always been part of the run-to-God crowd?
I’m not trying to be religious here. I’m trying to be helpful.
Many of you will find today’s memo completely irrelevant. I realize that. But with 31,000 readers, I’ve got to believe that at least a few hundred feel they are suffocating in darkness. (If you’re in the sunshine-and-song, problem-free majority, you’re free to quit reading right now if you like:)
It seems to me that we’re reluctant to run to God for different reasons:
1. Doubt. “God doesn’t exist and I’ll not demean myself by caving in to that Myth after a lifetime of self-sufficiency.”
2. Pride. “I ought to be able to handle this on my own.”
3. Religiosity. “God is sovereign. If I suffer, it is because He has willed it.”
4. Shame. “I haven’t earned the right to ask God for anything.”
Doubt has never been a problem for me. Maybe someday I’ll tell you why.
Pride is one of my less endearing traits. Frankly, I’m as territorial an alpha-male as any redneck bastard that ever drank Budweiser. But I have no pride when I ponder God. I’m arrogant. But I’m not stupid.
Religiosity. I agree with Arthur C. Clarke, who said, “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have both free will and a benevolent higher power who protects you from yourself.” In other words, I believe a once-sovereign God gave up absolute control of our circumstances on the day he gave us free will and put us in charge of this world. “Religiosity” is also what Tom, a friend of Anne Lamott, was talking about when he said, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Shame. Like you, I’ve never earned the right to run to God like a little girl crying “Daddy, Daddy, Save me.” Certainly not. Instead, I take the position, “Jesus, let’s not make this about how good I am. Let’s make this about how good you are.”
Call me crazy. Call me delusional. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I believe in a God who likes me and is on my side. And I am no stranger to miracles.
Do you need a miracle? Like it or not, I’ve given you what has always worked for me. It’s the very best advice I’ve got: “God, let’s not make this about how good I am. Let’s make it about how good you are.”
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.
Are there things for which you are thankful?
Roy H. Williams
PS – I wrote this memo fully aware that 4 groups of people will complain: