“Maybe I should move to Alaska.”

Alaska

Recently, within a 1/2 hour, two different retail workers treated me quite disrespectfully. One was outright rude. Both, like I was insignificant.

Initially, I reacted. My flesh wanted to walk out and explain why I was doing so. But, fortunately, the Holy Spirit kept me from reacting, kept my emotions from taking control.

As I met with a friend – a blessing of accountability – I also observed the two individuals & talked about what happened to me and realized not just why they personally struggled but also why so many struggle with existing in out-of-control lives. This situation brought to light the following realizations:

  1. People often try to control others when their lives feel out of control.
  2. Overwhelming busyness often causes us to take the easy way out, to react.
  3. Many people do not realize they are too busy and overwhelmed.
  4. Feeling trapped in a busy life is all too common.
  5. When people are habitually rude or impersonal, the root cause is usually being overwhelmed.

What does this all have to do with Alaska?

When many people become overwhelmed with life, they say something like, “Maybe I should move to Alaska.” Interpretation: “I want a simpler life.” People recognize their lives are too busy, and they desire permanent escape. This desire to escape teaches us several valuable lessons:

  1. We desire a  clean slate. We want out from under overwhelmed and busy lives.
  2. We recognize lack of balance. We know simplicity helps bring balance.
  3. We want simpler lives. A simpler life is a less chaotic life.

On a more personal level, and this is where the experience gets really painful, I realized that as much as I have grown from treating others the way I was treated and from reacting when being treated this way, I also see the habit still in me. For example, when I am stressed and overwhelmed, I try to control my life by controlling my kids. And controlling 12-year-old and a 14-year-old boys is, well, impossible, resulting in more frustration and a ride none of us enjoy.

gateWhy did the rudeness really bother me?

When the rubber meets the road to Alaska, I must admit that these situations brought out a part of me I thought dead. They brought out feelings and emotions I thought no longer controlled me. They made me realize that I too let busyness and stress control me. I too choose the broad path of either letting emotions rule and reign or fantasizing escape, wiping the slate clean rather than choosing the narrow path of a simpler life (Matthew 7:13-14).

When I allow my life to get complicated, even just slightly, my choices begin to reflect finding an easy way. How can I check tasks off my list in the quickest, easiest fashion? When my life stays simple, when I walk in the agenda God created for me (Ephesians 2:10), my choices reflect His will and my life becomes fulfilled through simple depth of tremendous purpose.

When I’m overwhelmed and live a too-busy life, I treat others based on feelings. I react to their emotions colliding with mine. When complications increase, I treat others based on my own definition of right and wrong, based on reactions to the emotions of life. But when my life is simple, I treat others based on The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40), based on showing love regardless of feelings and emotions.

Acting on God’s greatest commands happens more easily the simpler my life. Simpler means choosing the narrow way, choosing to prefer and love others because God wants me to. Letting busyness overrun my life means going through the wide gate, making easy choices, choices that go with the flow of culture.

DISCUSSION: Do you act or react when you are overwhelmed or stressed? When do you hear the call for simplicity most in your life? What do you do when you hear it?

19 thoughts on ““Maybe I should move to Alaska.”

  1. Alaska in my mind is not what I call the simple life. Short summers with endless sunlight, longer winters with endless moonlight. Freezing temps, bears, and rugged terrain right down the street wherever you live. Besides you can find more people to love in the lower 48! For the simple life give me the beach, a blanket and a surf board for me. Good message….

    • Alaska would not be my first choice either, but I get why people say it. Or, maybe others have heard that before? Anyway, it's the calling for a remote life away from the pulls of culture, I think. At least that's that it is for me. I'm ready to go surfing again for sure!!! Thanks, Coach.

  2. I don't like cold or dark, so Alaska probably would not be my choice most of the year, but I hear the summers are wonderful! Maybe just a visit. I think sometimes life is like a round and round carrousel. Some days I would just like to get off for a while, relax, catch my breath, and then I could get back on again.
    I REACT. Just as my hubby. And yes, I try to control the uncontrollable much more when my own life feels out of control. When I feel overwhelmed and have taken my focus off Christ it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotions. I am so grateful God allows me to stop, reminds me to be still and listen, to wait, and to feel Him. Then I can move forward in a much more loving state.
    Thanks for sharing. Your openness helps us all!

  3. I often talk about visiting Alaska but I'm not sure it is the place I want to live. 🙂 For years I would have chosen Colorado for that. LOL My problem with the issue you faced is I really, really want to say something to help them see what damage they did to me as a customer and ultimately the store for which they work. Eating at a restaurant with poor service is easy…small tip. But good service…they make out like a bandit! I do try really hard to compliment good service and will seek out a manager to commend them for it. I have not looked at saying something as a control issue but a customer service issue. Maybe I am looking at it wrongly.

    • Just the idea of the remoteness is appealing to me, and it has to be a simple life. Hard but simple. Yes, you're right, it is a serious customer service issue. And had they simply seemed to not care about their work or job in general (I've been in there before & not received this treatment), I would say it's simply that. But, as I observed them afterward (it's a bookstore/coffee shop), I saw that they acted the way they did because they were overwhelmed with all they had to get done. They were so overwhelmed that they could not separate what loomed over them from other tasks enough to do them well. So, because they were so overwhelmed with other aspects of their jobs and seemed to lack control their, they exerted control over me. So, I don't think you're wrong at all. What you see, bad customer service, is really the symptom of a larger issue, at least in this case. I know it's not always the case, but it definitely was here. Plus, it was something I quickly related to because I've done it myself. I've lacked control over my life in one area and sought it in another. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's what happens when we react.

  4. Believe it or not, I'd never heard the bit about moving to Alaska – probably for some of the same reasons everyone else has already identified. I don't either want or need a harder physical environment; when I was a younger man, the idea *did* appeal to me, but in the same way that Montana or Colorado or Idaho or Washington or Oregon or Northern California hold that same appeal – a sense of isolation and getting away from people. I can keep my own counsel as a solitary man only so long, though, and geography never changes me simply because I bring who I am into new terrain. If I truly want heart change then I do need to act my way to right thinking, not the reverse.

    In this case, you were able to back off and see that they were overwhelmed. I wonder if anyone ever tells them that they appreciate the work they do – I know from experience that all it took for me, when I was behind the counter for the airlines in a stress-filled situation, was one person to acknowledge me as a person or to recognize that they knew the situation was not of my creation, and my mood – and subsequent interactions – would be lifted. The obverse was also true, sadly – one person, trying to personalize a cancellation or an overbooking would take it out on us, and it made the rest of the process that much more stress-filled.

    We all struggle with control – see http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/2013/05/control… for something I wrote a while back on the topic – and I'll be answering your mail in the morning 🙂

    • Maybe it's the Michigan crowd (the state, not the school) I hang around with that wants to escape to Alaska. Actually, my friend I talked to after the incident referred to Alaska, so maybe that's what made me think of it. Also, my oldest read my post and said he thinks it's from a kid's book " Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." Anyway, I hope the point of a remote escape is clear even if I missed the relatable example. You're right in that a change of location doesn't change the situation. If there's an inner issue to deal with, it will follow you wherever you go. You can't escape the prompting of the Holy Spirit for change. You might become deaf to it, but that's another story. Actually, my friend interacted with one of the people right after I did and was able to pull her out of her mood. My friend is like that… her personality is one where you just can't stay discouraged. In fact, I have avoided her when I couldn't handle encouragement, which I realize is pretty messed up. The other person was not hearing anything, and he has a reputation for being mean and owly, but I had not seen it before. I do think that at least for the first person, my personality didn't help the situation. I think I draw out grumpiness in people sometimes. I'm quite melancholy by nature, but maybe I need to work on changing my personality… seriously, I have tried that and it doesn't work either. Anyway, I'll check out your link. Thanks!

  5. I usually work hard to act instead of react and more so when I am under stress because I know the tendency is to react and also the attitude seems to be one could could get a pass for acting that way due to the stress. I don't want to put myself in the situation that I need a "pass". That being said I am more susceptible to reacting when I am hungry or tired. I think part of the problem at this time is I don't see this as a stress point time and don't have any defenses put up.

    • Working hard (being deliberate) is essential. So is having solid defenses up and ready. Both terrific points, Mark. I think both are significantly lacking for most people too. Plus, they need continually adjusted, and that’s where I sometimes struggle. (Okay, more.than sometimes these days.)

  6. Timely topic. Not only have I been overwhelmed, but rude people have really ticked me off. 🙂 I don't think rude people are always too busy, but they always have something going on that has nothing to do with us.

    I typically feel overwhelmed when I see the state of my children's rooms after about a week of not checking. LOL How I normally react is my voice gets louder and I get a headache. Today I did go to the Lord for help with both issues and as always, He delivered. 🙂

    • Ticked off, yeah I get that. No, they may not always be overwhelmed, but usually distracted & busy to the point of messed up priorities. I get the kid thing too, except mine is picking something up of my youngest sitting somewhere in the house. His stuff gets spread out like a trail of breadcrumbs. Reactions not always great but usually done in private. Baby steps. Maybe I will eventually stop reacting.

  7. Great topic, Kari! I can deal with a lot but when I'm overly hungry I can tend to react and walk in the flesh until I eat. I get totally off guard. I do my best to make sure to bring snacks or plan to eat so I'm not allowing my hunger to negatively impact others.

  8. Pingback: Saturday Shortcuts | Planned Peasanthood

    • True! Yes, it is a fantasy. But a lot of fantasies are appealing, especially the ones we see in television & movies. Only through Jesus do we truly get a clean slate!

  9. Yes, I can get cranky when I'm tired and stressed out. My wife usually lets me know when this happens. For me one thing that helps is to put down the project I'm so desperately trying to finish and go outside for a walk or do a workout. I find that sometimes I just need to let my mind and my spirit relax and exercise is a great way to do that.

    • That does it to me every time. My kids let me know when I need to eat or have coffee. Taking a break is a great way to gain perspective and to be able to have a better attitude with whatever it is you're doing. Exercise too, is a great way to not only relieve stress but to gain perspective. Exercise is one of my biggest times for thinking and praying and just being. Good points, Caleb, and ones we can easily go to when necessary. In fact, regularly making sure these areas are taken care of can help reduce crankiness at an overall level.

Leave a Reply to Loren Pinilis Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *