Remember the consolation prize? You picked the wrong door on Let’s Make a Deal and instead of a new car or an all expense paid trip to Hawaii you got a year’s supply of Eskimo pies or Rice-a-Roni – the San Francisco treat. Always made me wonder how consoling such prizes actually were! (And, what IS the average daily requirement of Eskimo pies?)
We can laugh at such things, but the reality is, how many of us are accepting consolation prizes all the time? I remember an old friend, an extraordinarily talented guitarist, who as a kid told his father he wanted a guitar. The reply was “No. Our family is tone deaf.” He didn’t listen…but I know a hundred more people with similar replies who did listen to such limiting ideas and are living lives of quiet desperation in the wrong job or life situation.
Nowhere is this more pronounced these days than among single women. Many, wanting in their heart-of-hearts to be married and cherished and to raise a family with all the security and traditional perks associated with such a life, accept a living-together arrangement in hopes of a commitment some day. Yeah, I know, many contend they’re in a committed relationship, but the reality is that marriage IS the commitment. Anything short of that is more like the year’s supply of Eskimo pies. Every bite reminds them of what they don’t have…the commitment.
When it comes to game shows and picking the right door, sure, it’s a gamble. It may seem that way with the big decisions in our lives too. The reality is that we have more control over our destinies than we often realize. We make choices every day. It may seem like things happen randomly, and sometimes they do. But the truth is we’re not alone in this adventure called life. God does have a plan for each one of us. It’s not just priests and nuns that have vocations. We all do. With the right attitudes and guidance, we can find that plan and be happier than we ever imagined. After all, God made us with a purpose, when we fulfill it we’ll find our deepest happiness.
I think in the final analysis it boils down to faith. Do we believe in a God who loves us? Do we believe He has power and cares about what happens in our lives? Do we believe that if we persevere we’ll find our true happiness? “Ask and you will receive, seek and you fill find, knock and the door will be opened to you”.
We’re at the end of January, the month of resolutions, and many have already faded into oblivion. But as we forge into February, the month of love and lent, think about which consolation prizes you’ve been accepting, especially in your relationships. Do you put up with abuse because you fear you can’t do better? Are you accepting less than you deserve in the hopes that it will magically change and have a fairy tale ending? Are you randomly picking doors hoping for the big prize or are you discerning God’s will and setting goals consistent with your calling?
The fact that Valentine’s Day and Lent often closely coincide is no accident. I think there is a connection. Lent is more than giving up chocolate. It’s about listening and growing closer to Jesus – more conformed to His will for your life. It’s about disciplines to quiet our disordered desires and live more fully conformed to His will. It’s about deliberately choosing the higher road, knowing it leads to greater happiness. Sure, giving up chocolate may be a part of it…but it’s the means, not the goal. The goal is resurrection. The goal is becoming the best version of you. The goal is being happier.
Setting goals is an important discipline year round. Working with a coach to help you not only set goals, but first discern what goals will lead you to the greatest happiness pays dividends beyond your expectations. Stop gambling on random doors. There are blessings waiting for you…Believe.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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