EPISODE 35: Focusing on What IsMay 10, 2020
What is, not what should be
All good stories start at 330 am right. September 15 2001, just a few days after the September 11th terrorist attack, my missionary companion, the other two elders in our apartment and I were sound asleep in our seventh floor flat two blocks from the piazza garibaldi train station in naples Italy.
On the minds of each of us was this great tragedy that had just changed the face of the world and as we slept we subconsciously thought of all the loss and fear and hatred and pain that were at that moment permeating the lives of americans 8 time zones away.
A rainstorm had been pounding the city for hours.
Deep in sleep four missionaries heard a desperate thunder banging through our apartment and in our slumbering ears our 60 year old landlady crying “fate presto!” “Come quickly!”
As our feet hit the floor, something was clearly wrong. Where there should have been only tile, there was water.
At the door, our landlady begged us to shut off the water, which she was certain was coming from our apartment. It was, after all full of boys barely old enough to vote, so obviously they must have broken something.
Stepping out and standing on the landing of our top floor apartment I could see a cascade of water, careening toward the earth and crashing at the bottom of our large stairwell.
The door to a second apartment opened to reveal our neighbors across the hall bleary eyed and confused. Offering no answers, we all looked at the third door on this level. An empty apartment that had been unoccupied for as long as anyone could recall.
I tried the door. Nothing. But I could clearly feel the flow of water gushing between the door and the floor.
The landlady had no key as it was a private apartment. From the landing there was no way in.
The balcony of that empty apartment and the adjacent missionary apartment was separated by a stone wall with only one way around it. Over the edge of the wet balcony with only a slippery rail seven floors up to hold on to.
In a moment ‘I put on my raincoat, went onto our balcony and climbed to the flooding one where I found the only drainage hole blocked by a wayward mop and a random piece of plastic.’
Crisis averted, time to clean up.
Sometimes I have conversations with spouses of pornography users who come to me at the moment of crisis. They have just found out about the pornography use of their spouse. Many are distraught, unbending and unable to look at this as anything other than betrayal. They believe that their marriage is over, their spouse is broken beyond repair and that they are a failure.
They are focusing on what should be and not what is.
Let’s talk about the differences between how we act when we focus on what is vs what should be.
“What is” creates possibility.
“What should” be delays possibility.
A high school graduate might say, “my gpa will get me into these colleges, I’m ready to make a choice”
Or when the think about what should be, they might say, ‘my gpa isn’t good enough to get into the school I want. I wish I had studied harder.’
A business person might say, ‘our sales were 93% of target, let’s evaluate our process to see if there are any adjustments we can make for the next quarter’
Or ‘if only I had made one more sale. I missed my bonus, this is the worst, I should have worked harder’
A pornography user might say, ‘I see how I have behaved, I understand the choices I made that brought me here. I am going to learn as much as I can from this.’
Or, ‘it just happened, I don’t have control over myself and I’m an addict.’
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