I once told a friend that I spend half my time looking for people’s “buttons,” and the other half of my time pushing them.
I’m bad. This is a flaw that I have that I am committed to working on with God’s grace, but sometimes, it is so entertaining to see people go off when their hot-buttons are pressed, isn’t it? How about you? Are there things that just set you off? If someone decides to start talking politics in Dunkin Donuts, does your blood pressure begin to spike? Is the quality of your week determined by what the Ravens do (or don’t do) on Sunday? If you see one more sock on the floor or toilet seat up will they be calling the men in the white coats?
Is someone wrong on Facebook right now?
If this is you – and it is me, and many others – then you live in “Drama-topia.” It’s a place where there are no “little things.” Everything is life and death; everything is infinitely significant; everything drives everyone else nuts. Drama-topia is a place where we cannot let a comment pass without a rebuttal; it’s a place where attention is the greatest currency; and it is a place in which not many of its citizens are happy.
Isn’t it time we said, “Goodbye” to Drama-topia?
In 1997, a book came out entitled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s All Small Stuff. In it, the author tries to assist the reader to realize that focusing on the simple beauty of life –the basics – can lead us to greater happiness. At one point he writes: “When you take time, often to reflect on the miracle of life … the gift of sight, of love and all the rest, it can help to remind you that many of the things that you think as ‘big stuff’ are really just ‘small stuff’ that you are turning into big stuff.”
Turning small stuff into big stuff is what carries us off to Drama-topia. And this is nothing new. Even in the early Church, there was drama; there was conflict. Jesus gives His followers advice on how to deal with this difficulty. When the problem of someone misbehaving comes up, Jesus tells us, do not cry out and rage on CNN or FOX about it. Rather, “go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” There is much more to be gained through that human and personal interaction than posting a rant on Facebook!
Even if that initial conversation does not convince the brother or sister of the right way, we are still not to draw attention to them and ourselves by screaming and shouting. Instead, we are to rely on the wisdom of our community of charity – the Church – and “take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”
Jesus understands our humanity; He shares our humanity. And yet, He does not wish to share in the drama that drags so many of us into negativity and criticism. Rather, our goal as a Christian community and as Christian individuals is to help one another in charity – even when we or they are wrong – to find the right path again.
This should not be complicated; however, we do make it complicated through drama – through making big stuff out of the small stuff. We need to hear St. Paul’s advice again today when he tells us, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments … are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
So, the road out of Drama-topia is paved with Love. In Drama-topia, nothing is more significant or important that what is happening to me right now. However, when we take on the Christ-like attitude of thinking of others first – of their good – then we begin to follow that road that leads us to freedom from negativity and criticism.
This week, let’s practice leaving Drama-topia. Let’s still our hearts with a commitment to regular prayer, and let’s assume that our brothers and sisters might actually have good intentions behind what they do our don’t do. Let’s love one another first and foremost and be channels for God’s peace in our homes, schools and workplaces. Over the next few weeks, together, we are going to work at eliminating the drama in our lives so that we can begin truly living for Jesus Christ, Who calls us to that fullness of life that we all deserve – and, honestly, isn’t that what we are all seeking?
As we receive the Eucharist, we encounter God’s greatest Drama – the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. In this great Drama, we have been freed from the pettiness that grips humanity. The Cross is the Way that we escape our own Drama-topias.