This was written by a gentleman the was the pastor of the church I attended when I was a little boy (Jim Taylor). It is worth the read.
“…I did not find paradise. It was only a reflection of my lonely mind wanting what’s been missing in my life...” (from Goodbye Alice in Wonderland by Jewel)
Many people are looking for a personal “paradise” ... the perfect job, the perfect mate, the car, a hobby, an advancement or recognition ... the thing that will fulfill them. Quite often they run from relationship to relationship, seeking that “paradise”. Or they get caught up in trying to “climb the ladder” or make their place in the world, seeking what’s missing and never quite finding it.
Oh, there are good things, yes! And quite often that person in your life or that job has brought a lot of satisfaction, but it is not quite everything that you envisioned. There still seems to be something lacking.
Let me share with you a little secret: There is NOTHING in life that will ever give you 100% of what you are expecting from it. Get used to this idea. Nothing will ever be 100%. No car, no job, no career, no sport, no piece of furniture, no house, no spouse. NOTHING and NO ONE will ever live up to 100%.
That’s a fact of life.
Many things and many people however will sometimes reach about 80% of our expectations. And there is nothing wrong with that. However … and this is important …… we can become indifferent to the 80%. We can grow used to the 80%. So used to it in fact, that we sometimes start worrying about the 20% we don’t have. And IF we are not careful, we will be tempted by the 20%.
I have seen it in marriages. One partner says, “You are not giving me everything I need. Oh sure, you are 80%, but I need that other 20%!” If they continue to fixate on what they don’t have, sooner or later 20% is going to come walking by. And many times they will leave the 80% for the 20%! Why? Because by fixating on what they don’t have --- the 20% --- they forget the 80% they do have and suddenly the 20% looks like more than the 80%. And so they give up the 80% and run off with the 20%. Then one day they wake up and realize they settled for 20% when they once had 80%, but now it’s too late to go back.
As parents we rarely are everything we want to be (if ever) and I know that in our children’s eyes we come short of their needs or expectations quite often. How many young people just can’t wait to get out on their own, only to find when they do that they have left 80% and now are living with 20%! If you focus on the 20% it often looks like the answer to your problems. When the 20% appears to us as if it is more than the 80%, it will appear to us as the way to everything we desire. When we pursue the 20% it can be exciting, thrilling, and promising. But when we leave the 80% and settle for the 20% life becomes empty and depression, discouragement or despair can settle in.
How many people neglected family and friends in pursuit of a career only to discover one day that while they reached the top of their career, there was nothing there? They have gotten the 20% but at the expense of 80%. Some people never understand the 80/20 Rule and spend all their life running, leaving, seeking, and never finding what they are searching for. They think if they can just get that special (fill in the blank) they will find contentment, fulfillment, and satisfaction. But because they don’t understand the 80/20 Rule they actually are working against themselves! The very thing that would bring what they want is the thing they constantly run away from!
The key is to learn to appreciate the 80% that you have! Do not listen to the call of the 20%. Do not allow yourself think about or dwell upon the 20%. Begin to explore all the possibilities that are in the 80%. Start being thankful for the 80% you have. It will take some time and requires a “training” of your mind, but in time you will begin to see how foolish it is to dwell on the 20%.
When that happens the 80% actually will become more valuable to you than you believe possible. It may even become more than 80%! Yes. That is possible. It may not look like it is now, but trust me, try it and you will find out whether I am telling the truth or not.
As I said, it will require you to train your mind, discipline it, and bring it under your control. If you have something or someone that is 80%, do not allow yourself to dwell on the 20% you don’t have! Think about the good things. Make yourself become thankful for the good parts. As you endeavor to do that, if you will ask Him, you will find the Lord will enable you to follow through, thinking about the good things. And His peace will invade your life. Not only will His peace come into your life, it will actually guard your mind so that the 20% never looks as large as the 80%.
Give it a try! What have you got to lose but dissatisfaction, discontent and unhappiness? You can live without those things!
Phil 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. NIV