Facing the Giants and accepting the outcome
Written by: Yameen Chestnut, MS, LMFT, NCC
Remember that story in the bible where David squared up on Goliath, reared back his slingshot, swung with all his might, and missed Goliath’s giant ugly head, only to get that sinking feeling in his gut after the failed attempt? Remember that part in the story when Goliath lifted his gigantic foot and crushed David under his feet? Right before Goliath mashed down, I’m sure David was thinking “this isn’t how we drew it up in the playbook!”
NO YOU SAY? You mean you don’t recall that version of that epic battle between two foes?
Maybe that’s because that version never actually happened and is against the natural order of the universe, as far as we’d like to believe! Our sense of fairness tells us David was not supposed to be defeated by Goliath, The Joker was not supposed to lead a revolt joined by the Legion of Doom to overtake the Hall of Justice and send Superman and his friends scurrying away in defeat. The Empire was not supposed to annihilate the Jedi’s once Luke’s one last laser beam missed its mark on the Death Star. Heck, I could go on for days just coming up with “against the natural order” events we’ve come to dismiss because of that deep, visceral feeling in our bones that in the end, good always triumphs over evil and, according to the late great Bob Marley, everything’s gonna be alright! We have come to love, and expect, a good outcome from the underdog in our story. Who doesn’t love a long shot?
Without labeling our newly elected president, evil, it’s still easy to see why many feel that he was the Goliath they wanted to defeat. Besides what we see on television, we arguably don’t truly know him from a can of orange paint. But the loud, politically incorrect version of his reality set him straight in the sites of our slingshot crosshairs. While many people woke up Wednesday morning after the results extremely disappointed, this I do know: this too shall pass and life very much goes on.
So here’s the deal good people. Despite what we may have been lulled into believing, every now and again there are times when things don’t go as planned, bad things indeed do happen to good people, and the deserved don’t always prevail. This is also a part of the natural order of things, despite what we may want to believe. Sometimes we don’t get that job we’ve been applying for. Other times it may be our favorite sports team not winning the big game. Most recently, many watched as the Cleveland Indians lost three straight to go on to fall to the Chicago Cubs. Even in that instance, you have two groups who so feel their time had come, but for one, it simply couldn’t be so.
In order for someone to win, someone has to lose. Sometimes life is clearly not a zero-sum game. I’ve come to believe that our ability as humans to transcend circumstance and resiliently shape and mold our own narrative is and has always been one of our greatest gifts,
You remember that thing called circumstance right? Circumstance is that place we find ourselves in. Whether it be getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, being raised in a dysfunctional environment, or having to be governed by someone you didn’t vote for. It’s all the same at the end of the day. Happiness isn’t determined by the outcome of an external war, so much as it is determined by the outcome of the internal war between circumstance and our own free will. So to our most recent election results I say, protect your narrative and don’t allow it to automatically be written for you. Your narrative is your story. It’s what you tell yourself about what happened to you, what you believe you can do and also what you expect to occur. Whether you were on the elated side of things, or on the side that was disappointed, understand that prior to hearing the results, you are still completely in control of your own narrative.
Narrative is what keeps one glued to a particular destiny, or allows one to change their “story line”. This is much easier when we acknowledge that narrative is flexible, and in my belief, it was made to be re-written if necessary. During difficult times, a flexible narrative allows us the ability to cope, as opposed to a rigid one, which will hold us hostage when things don’t go according to plan.
So remember that Bob Marley quote from earlier? Ever consider the possibility that even if David had fallen to Goliath, things could have and likely would have worked out despite our ability to know how? Well, maybe just maybe, that’s because in the end, everything will be alright.
In these trying times, let’s all focus on keeping our own narrative flexible and remembering that you have the ability to revise the “rough draft” of your life story and make it what you will.
If it helps, feel free to take a page out of my book ,and consider the possibility that Goliath never really wins, because I determine what winning is. At least in the end…
Yameen specializes in mood disorders, youth & adolescent work, couples, pre-marital and family counseling related to transitions, adoption and trauma. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with him, you can email him at email@example.com or call him at the office at 317-471-8996.