Have you ever been through a phase where you felt like “No More Drama” should be your theme song?
One morning a few years ago, I woke up and faced a reality I had been avoiding for months. I was dissatisfied with my life. Sure, at first glance, everything appeared to be going well. But when I assessed it all step by step, I felt like something was missing. Church was alright; spiritually I seemed to be doing okay (but as you know, with spiritual things, there’s always room for improvement). I was in a relationship but never sure I was loved, and my friendships were a hot mess – it was like my discernment radar was broken.
As would be expected, my Bible soon started to seem boring. I felt a strange distance from God. To some people, this combination of factors might seem like nothing, but to me, it could only be defined as DRAMA. And that was not where I wanted to be; it definitely was not who I wanted to be. The limit was when someone I look up to told me “Ever since I met you, your life has just been drama, drama, drama.” I was shocked. Me? My life? But I looked back and realized that I could trace the onset of drama to around the same time he and I became friends (and no, I’m not saying he had anything to do with it).
I’ve had the privilege of being influenced and inspired by many women around me through the years. They’re gracious, graceful, and seem to take everything with a smile. They have raised respectful sons and counseled strangers’ daughters. They don’t crave attention, but if they get it, they don’t miss a beat. They don’t look for drama, but if it makes its way to them, they do not lose their footing. I knew I needed to make some changes, and I was determined to eliminate drama from my life, so I thought through some of the lessons I gleaned from these women. Praying helped, but I had to understand that no angel was going to come from heaven and shake me from this dust – I had to obey, for myself, the command to arise. Having a stress-free, drama-free life was as simple as deciding to:
1. Drop the expectations. Disappointment is always the result of lofty expectations. It begins when we are sure things will go a certain way, and we prepare ourselves and everything in our lives to mesh into the template we have formed. And then when, sadly, we are disappointed by things such as the inevitability of man’s imperfection, we allow those disappointments to so affect us that we cannot function appropriately. I realized that if I put all my trust in a man and he cheats, or if I plan to meet a friend at 3:00 and she shows up at 3:15, drama does not always have to be the result. There was one woman I loved dearly but with whom there was always drama, even though both of us were born again, simply because I felt entitled to a certain kind of treatment and to 24/7, dedicated approval. In other words, I was looking for something in a human being that I could only get from God. If I remember that for all their good intentions, human beings are only human, then I will not be disappointed, and should I be disappointed, I will pour out my heart to the One who can change me and my situation.
2. Mind my own business. I have come to learn that having friends in high places does not have to be dramatic. There is a certain unique stress that comes with comparing oneself to others. It’s unnecessary and depressing. I decided to balance things out and discuss issues, not property or people and their material progress. When someone comes to me with a story about how so-and-so is doing such-and-such and saying this and that about me, I don’t have to listen. I’ve said many times in different words (and I was so glad to hear a friend sternly say it to someone else in my hearing) that our ears do not have to be a dumpster or trash can for other people’s garbage and/or verbal diarrhea. It’s very okay to hang up, walk away, change the subject, or tell the person off. A harsh look turns away a backbiting tongue. Having a quiet, private life works well to keep me from drama. A few true friends are better than a world of false acquaintances.
3. Continue to keep it real, but try to do it with grace and tact. Lies are a major cause of drama, because they have a way of coming out – and because people don’t like to feel like their intelligence has been insulted. When we sweep things under the carpet, they begin to rot and can mess up an entire house. Honesty is always the best policy and where there is honesty, if there is drama, it’s often shorter-lived than if the dishonest route is taken. There’s no point keeping people in the dark or expecting them to read our minds. If I’m hurt, upset, or I don’t appreciate a comment or action, I’m likely to say it. I air things right there and then, and that way it’s easier to move on. Holding grudges is drama.
4. Avoid dramatic people. Some people choose to thrive on drama. I’ve chosen to decide that this means that they just don’t know any better or are from a zone that I cannot and will never understand. I’ve found that the best way to get along with fire-starters is to put some wise distance between me and them, and to appreciate the spice they bring to life. The tricky part is that love has no distance – I can’t imagine what I would do if Jesus put some distance between me and Him; I’ve had my dramatic moments, too! Wisdom is the principal thing.
5. Fight from a position of rest. Sometimes drama is the result of competition and malice. “If Kantai can tie a tie, why can’t I tie a tie?” and “My mother and your mother were washing the clothes; my mother gave your mother a punch on the nose” graduates to “My boyfriend bought me a fat jewel so yours must just be mean and cruel” and then soon it’s “If Abubakar can buy his wife a car, why can’t my Oscar buy me a car?” If we would simply stop and count our blessings, we would be thankful to be where we are. Nobody can walk our journey like we can. Some people feel that they have exclusive rights to the limelight. When you look at it critically, it’s hilarious. People don’t know that while they trip over themselves trying to outdo others, the “others” hardly ever have a clue, and even when they know, they don’t care because wise people never use other people as a benchmark. They don’t burn themselves out trying to outdo others. They do not chase after goodness and mercy, because they know goodness and mercy must follow them. To live a drama-free life, I had to embrace wisdom and truly understand that in God, I cannot fail.
6. Ask important questions to save time. Who will I edify by losing my cool? Who will I glorify? Does this really matter? Yeah, it seems like a big deal, but is it really? Really, really? I had to apply something I read somewhere: “Five years from now, will this matter?” Sometimes, I find that issues are so trivial that they will not matter even five hours from the moment.
7. Realize that my reaction can serve to magnify or mortify the drama. There are four possibilities with drama. I can create it from absolutely nothing for absolutely no reason. I can also find myself caught in it – in which case I can choose to patiently wait it out, revel in it, or flee from it. I can choose to end it. And I can ignore it. I’m responsible for whatever choice I make. What we focus on really does expand!
8. Find and deal with the source. Why is there even drama in the first place? Is someone having a bad day? If so, then it’ll pass. Is this a consequence of a previous decision? If it is, then I should bear it with grace. Is someone just whining? I can choose to step away, listen, or tell them to shut up. Is someone hating? I can use that to build me even as I turn a deaf ear to it. That works to cut the supply and interrupt the flow.
9. Work on me, love others. Sometimes drama is a speck-and-log issue. People’s issues tend to look so huge when we’re dealing with the same in our lives. When we try to change others, drama is inevitable. God does not need an assistant and I’ll only frustrate myself if I try to take on this role. It’s so much easier to pray for them but do me, keep living my life, pursuing my goals, and rejoicing in God’s goodness.
10. Understand that peace is a choice. I have to guard the peace in my heart and let the peace of Christ rule in me. I cannot be peaceful on anyone’s behalf just like (as the Nigerians say) I cannot take a Tylenol for anyone’s headache. However, a calm disposition can work to change a chaotic situation into a peaceful one. Drama-free women can change someone’s day just by walking into a room. When I let Christ’s peace rule in my heart, I look at things differently. Only I am responsible for the amount of drama I allow into my life. I have all the tools I need to stay away from it – everything from keeping the right company to rebuking the devil is listed in the manual that God, in His faithfulness, provided so that we do not walk around fighting in our own strength. I know who God is. In any situation, I have the choice to be a grasshopper before the sons of Anak, or to overcome Goliath with a sling and a stone in the Name of the Lord.
God is never distant. He’s closer than our thoughts. Where it feels like there’s distance, we will find that we, not He, stepped back or pulled away.
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Devoid of drama.