As a preacher, I have never been good at coming up with the catchy sayings or cool sermon titles to draw people in. You know the, “Come learn about the four M‘s to a better life,” kind of thing. As a matter of fact, cleverness has often backfired on me. I was doing a thing for a while, using one word sermon titles. I guess I thought the mystery of that one word would intrigue people. “What does he mean by OPAQUE?” I was feeling pretty good about myself until I pulled out of the parking lot one day and saw our church sign with the sermon title on it.
Even in the pandemic, “It’s 2021, let’s get $#!+ done,” didn’t have a whole lot of marketability in the church world.
But just because I can’t come up with these sayings doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them.
A professor of mine in seminary used to say, “Faith alone will save, but the faith that saves is never alone.”
And just the other day I read this by Michael Hyatt: You experience what you expect.
You experience what you expect. I like that. And I find the saying particularly relevant these days. The term “confirmation bias” is pretty common, meaning we seek out information that supports our worldview. We watch news channels and read magazines and newspapers that give us the perspective we want, not necessarily an unbiased view.
However, it seems in the last couple years we have flipped confirmation bias on its head. Instead of looking for things that support our worldview, we look for things that oppose it just so we can stay angry. And staying angry is easy.
We’ve been in lockdown. We’ve watched as racial tensions have boiled over in this nation. We’ve witnessed a contentious presidential election and the fallout from that same election. We have seen one war end only to watch as another might be starting. We experience what we expect, and we have come to expect very little. That needs to change.
Life is hard, there is no doubt. But as long as we expect to be angry the circumstances around us will only serve to fuel that anger. A drive-thru mix-up that would have garnered an eye roll three years ago, now receives a scathing profanity-laden post on social media. We may be angry at the world, but knowing that we can’t do much to influence the world, we direct all our anger in a smaller arena, the cashier, the person who bumped into us, the one who wasn’t looking as they backed out of a space. Deep down, we know these things have nothing to do with us, but we take them personally, because it suits our angry narrative. Face it, the barista has NEVER spelled your name correctly. You’re giving yourself way too much credit by taking it personally.
Life is hard, but it is good, too. The sun still comes up. Babies are born, and puppies are real.
Expect more yourself. Experience more. Go outside and get outside of yourself. You’ll be happy you did.