Don’t Go Looking for Trouble!

Tuesday January 20th 2015

It was no trouble.

That’s a pretty common phrase. It’s usually preceded by someone thanking you for a kind gesture or for some form of help. You’ve made a difference to their day. It’s another way of saying, “That’s okay, I don’t mind helping you”.

Maybe you’ve said it today.

There’s another common phrase which says, “Don’t go looking for trouble.” That’s a philosophy that’s been handed down by mothers over several generations and is especially popular in this day and age. Why would anyone go looking for trouble when we’re all surrounded by it on a daily basis? You would have to be crazy to invite more into your life. That would be sheer madness!

For argument’s sake though, let’s say you did. Let’s imagine that you have lost your senses and you are actively looking for trouble. On purpose!

You’ve ignored all the warnings and you’ve woken up with the intent to literally look for trouble every second of this day. You are going make it your mission to seek it out where ever you go. If someone came up to you in the middle of street and asked, “What’s up?”, you would say, “I’m looking for trouble.”

Let’s also assume that this is a good idea.

So you get up in the morning you check with your kids first to see if there’s any trouble there. That’s maybe a bit too easy though since kids can cause trouble in an empty house. Annoying your sister is a kind of trouble, but not the kind we’re looking for today. Instead, you’ll have to dig deeper.

You start to ask questions. “How was school yesterday?” you ask. If you son answers, “Fine!” then you know all is well. But what if he says “It was okay I guess…” while he’s staring at the TV? That’s a sign of trouble. Maybe he’s worried about a test or he’s had an argument with one of his friends. Either way, you’ve found trouble.

Now what to do with that trouble? Well the first thing to do is to simply admit it exists. That’s really the hardest part. To be honest, we’re all really good at finding trouble. In fact, it seems to find us. But our typical response is to just pretend like it’s not there and then walk on.

Next you go outside you see your neighbour getting into his car. Just like every other morning, you ask, “How’s it going?” and your neighbour replies with the standard, “Good, thanks!” and you both go on your way. But, if you’re honest with yourself, you might admit that you heard of kind of tiredness in his voice that wasn’t there the day before. You could hear the trouble.

So instead of just getting in your car, maybe you ask, “Got a busy day?”. That’s not something you normally ask your neighbour so he will need to pause and actually think about his answer. When he does come up with a response he might also decide to share a bit of reality with you. He might start telling you about the redundancies at his work and how he was up all night worrying about his job. He might share his troubles.

So what though? You’ve gone looking for trouble and now you’ve found it. It’s out in the open for everyone to see. Well, what happens next, depends on the kind of trouble you have found.

Maybe this is just a little bit of trouble and the simple fact of sharing it with you has helped to ease your neighbour’s mind. You’ve made a difference. On the other hand, maybe the trouble you’ve uncovered it just the tip of the iceberg. That type of trouble will take time and effort if you want to help in a real way. You’ll have to ask again tomorrow just so you can keep the conversation going.

Either way, you’ve succeeded. You’ve gone looking for trouble and you’ve found it. It was a painless exercise and easier than you imagined. In fact, my guess is that you feel better for doing it.

Here’s the secret. If you go looking for trouble, you will find yourself. You will find the person you want to be. The version of yourself that sometimes disappears from view.

Today, go out there and look for yourself. Look for others. Look for trouble.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

(Philippians 4:13-14)

Written by Dennis Coughlin, a member of the church family of St John’s and King’s Park, Dalkeith

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