I saw it in my parents and other family members, as well as in friends. When we get to around 50 years of age, we emotionally choose one of two paths.
In the first path, we conclude that life has been unfair and failed to give us what we were due. The dreams we had at age 20 haven’t been realized, but it isn’t our fault, we tried hard enough. But there were enemies at every turn that kept us from reaching our goals. As we travel down this path, we become cynical and bitter. The world is cold and everyone in it receives our scorn.
In the alternate path we look on a life that hasn’t been easy, but we realize that it has been better than we could have ever hoped. We have sometimes failed, but we have loved well, been a friend and had a friend, and we have come to know God. We experience joy and freedom in having lived an earthly life well, and wait in joyful hope for the next chapter.
One word describes those who travel the first path: Victim.
You know them too. They are always late to their son’s baseball games because the train holds them up, they miss flights not because they arrive at the airport 30 minutes before flight time, but because TSA doesn’t have all the security lines open, and they don’t have any money because their ex-wife took it all in their recent divorce.
Paulo Coehlo writes in Manuscript Found in Accra:
“Ask yourself if you would like to take on the role of victim. If the answer is yes, you will never be free of that choice for the rest of your life, and you will be easy prey whenever you are faced with a decision that demands courage. You might talk like a winner, but the look of defeat in your eyes will always be there, and everyone will notice. You will spend a few sleepless nights thinking: “I don’t deserve this. Or thinking what an unfair world it is because it failed to give you the welcome you were expecting. Of feeling ashamed at the humiliation endured in front of your colleagues, your lover, or your parents.”
When I catch myself trying to find someone to blame for an inconvenient misfortune, I remind myself that there is another option: believing that my life is far better than I could have ever imagined. With God directing my journey, I rest in the knowledge that it is His plan I am following, and it is not the fault of my fellow travelers when adversity knocks on my door.
We can become bitter and resentful, always finding someone to blame, or we can find joy and freedom in being a child of God and an important part of His kingdom.
Which do you choose?
Blessings, my friend,