I have a lot of “theories” – according to me. They are theories I have come up with from my experiences and from observing the lives of people around me. I test them often to see if they really hold up. And I have decided that they pretty much hold up 80% of the time.
80% is wonderful. How many things or people can you count on 80% of the time? I like 80%. It’s the 20% that bothers me…
I want to talk about the 80% part and the 20% part. Let’s begin with the 80%.
You might also call these “if-then” theories. If you do such and such – then such and such will happen 80% of the time. Let me give you a few examples.
If you follow a diet and exercise program – you will lose weight.
If you raise your kids right – they will turn out right.
If you are an excellent employee – you will be successful.
If you believe in your product – you will sell a lot.
If you have a good marriage – your spouse will not have an affair.
If you think of others before yourself – you will attract many friends.
According to my observations – the above “if-thens” hold true about 80% of the time. But sometimes real life defies the odds. That is the very hard part. This is the part where life suddenly doesn’t make sense and we can start to lose control and oftentimes our hope.
I like life to make sense – so when I find myself in a situation where I have done my part and it doesn’t turn out right – it really, really bugs me.
For instance – there have been times when I have started on one of my many diet programs and have done everything perfect. I followed the rules and not a forbidden morsel went into my mouth. I exercised diligently for weeks and…..nothing. Not a pound. I cannot describe to you how quickly this turns me into a 5 year old and I find myself inwardly stomping around and outwardly have even cried. When you do the right things – shouldn’t you be rewarded?
When I feel out of control, I will oftentimes have out of control and faulty ways of thinking. I think to myself, “Weelll then. If I am going to do all the right things and not lose a pound – I might as well eat whatever I please and have some fun!”
I quickly forget that my pants have felt looser lately and that I have slept better and felt better – all because I landed in the 20%. I am definitely motivated by positives rather than negatives.
In the old days, only the “bad kids” did bad things. Not so anymore. It is becoming more and more common for good kids to fall into bad things because our culture is so far away from God’s plan. “Good kids” do bad things because they no longer think they are bad. Caring parents have been devastated by this experience.
There are also times when very good parents with very good intentions have ended up hurting their children because they were too good to them. I recently read this from Stormie Omartian .
“Too many adult children are suffering because their parents failed to teach and demonstrate that there are serious consequences for wrong actions. We are supposed to have corrected our children, just as God corrects us because He loves us. If we haven’t corrected them the way we should have – if we indulged them instead, or if our correction became abusive rather than corrective – we too will pay the consequences when we see the results.”
It’s truly impossible to do everything right as a parent. It’s hard to be not -too- tough…and not too easy on our kids. But wouldn’t you think if we get it right 80% of the time they would turn out well? Most of the time…but not always…
What amazes me is that sometimes parents can be very, very good parents and they can have a wayward child while other parents who were neglectful or even abusive can have a child turn out just fine. That is the 20% that just doesn’t compute in my head.
I live in Minneapolis, Mn and cannot help but think about the hundreds of excellent workers employed by Target who were just recently laid off. It didn’t matter how good they were or what they had contributed. They were simply let go. It is frightening to lose a job with bills to pay and an unknown future. The 80% theory did not apply to them.
Success at selling…
On my “sales” theory – I love sales. Many people shudder at the prospect of sales – and I actually love it. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree because my daughter Taylor does too. She is employed at Evereve clothing store for women. (Poke around on the website – I am telling you, I could buy my entire wardrobe there) We view sales as “helping” others. When we believe in the product we want everyone to know…kinda’ like my blog, I guess.
Anyhow – the two of us can talk for hours about how rewarding it was for her to help a young mama find the perfect clothes that made her feel better about herself or how she helped an 80 year old grandma look totally hip yet still appropriate for her age. When you believe in your product it is contagious.
But – sometimes people don’t want what you have to sell. They don’t believe in your product and there is nothing you can do. You cannot force someone to buy jeans just because you think they look awesome in them. 20% of the time they will say “no thanks”. And I cannot force someone to accept Jesus into their life.
Affair-proofing your marriage…
I truly believe that there is no such thing that an “affair” breaks up a marriage. (I would even give this one a 90%) I believe that the marriage is broken first – and then one or both parties is more vulnerable to having an affair.
However – a very few times I have seen what I thought was the most solid, fabulous marriage be busted up by an outside party. Rarely – but sometimes. Circumstances and temptations can sometimes destroy the best of marriages – and it makes me sick.
Caring about your friends…
If you are a good friend – you will have many friends…almost all of the time. On the other hand, the world can be unkind and sometimes no matter how good you are – people will take advantage of your kindnesses. If you are nice and principled – sometimes if you don’t go along with them – you won’t be invited to go.
80% odds are wonderful – but what are we to do when we land in the 20%? The moments when we have done our part with no reward for our efforts?
There are some things in life that we simply cannot control. I want to show you a little picture and give you an analogy that might be helpful.
OK – look at the kids lined up and following the teacher. Imagine that they are going to the Science Fair and the little guy with the red shirt in the middle doesn’t want to go to the Science Fair.
He could get out of line and run to the left and find himself in the middle of a busy road where he could get hit by a car. Or he could get out of line and go right and simply find himself lost in the crowd. OR – he could follow his teacher to the place he doesn’t want to go – because even though he doesn’t want to be going where he is going – it is the safest place to be.
Even though life causes us to land in the 20% sometimes and it takes us places where we do not want to go –
– I love that.