When I was a kid, my family refused to get cable TV (this was back when "cable" was a couple dozen extra channels on which I could watch reruns of MacGyver). Instead, we had a pair of large TV antennae in our attic- one VHF, one UHF (remember that?). When something special was due to be on TV, my dad would go up to the attic and slowly move the antenna while one of us kids stayed downstairs in front of the TV with a walkie-talkie, waiting for the image to appear out of the static, and then clear. "A little more, a little more, wait, that's good! Nope, too far!"
We spend a significant fraction of our life searching and tweaking. Turning the antennae of our surroundings hoping a picture will emerge, and the static and lines will disappear as the signal clears. We change majors, move across the country, rush into new relationships and out of old ones, dye our hair, buy things, sell things, embrace religion, leave religion, change churches, change boyfriends, change careers, change addresses, upgrade our circle of acquaintances, go on medication, get off medication, find a therapist, find a different therapist, quit going to a therapist, take up new hobbies and abandon old ones, go out on Friday, stop going out, lose 20 pounds, work harder, work smarter, make New Years' resolutions, and as many other things as anyone could think of or try.
Most people who have been around life for awhile would agree that yes, some experimentation is good, especially when you’re younger, if for no other reason than to gain some experience and perspective in life and to discover what combination of circumstances and environment works best for you.
But what if you’re always on the run, always reacting to the present and trying to change your reality? Especially when the same issues, the same discontent, the same frustration, and the same reactions continue to surface time and time again, in every situation. And something else, someone else, God, life, fate, is always to blame for the drama and unhappiness. For friends and onlookers, this becomes frustrating, fruitless, even tragic to watch.
There's an old saying "Wherever you go, there you are." In every change, every new thing you encounter, every old one you revisit, every joy, every hardship, there is one common factor: You. Perhaps it's not others. Perhaps it's not your surroundings. Maybe it's not something else's fault, or someone else's fault. Perhaps you haven't been wronged and dealt an unfair hand as much as you've forgotten how to live.
If you are not a Christian, changing this becomes largely an exercise in self-help. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s a lot like trying to fix your car while you’re driving down the highway at 60 miles per hour- it’s possible, but it’s really tricky, there’s a limited amount you can do, and there’s the chance that you’ll run off the road in the process. But if you ARE a Christian, there’s good news- we learn from the pages of the Bible that this shift is a natural path for each of us in response to what God has done in our lives: In Romans 12:2, the writer, the Apostle Paul says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world (the old way), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (the new way). THEN, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…” Once you make the shift, the picture becomes clear!
If changing everything else has failed, perhaps it's time to turn inward to the one common denominator, the one that in reality, we each have the most ability to control and influence. You. Maybe it's time to leave the attic and stop messing with the antenna if the picture is okay, and watch the show. Stop tweaking, embrace responsibility with humility, and take a deep breath. It's a new day, and it's yours.