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Bret's Daily Grind

How to Deal with Difficult Situations–Shawshank Style

By October 22, 2014No Comments

It never ceases to amaze me what people do to avoid an unpleasant situation. A few weeks ago, I read a news article about a man from Ireland named Patsy Kerr. Patsy’s unpleasant situation was that his wife snored. You might think that to avoid the problem he slept on the couch or invested in a really good pair of earplugs. But, according to the article, Patsy, in a burst of inspiration from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” chose to deal with his wife’s snoring by digging a tunnel under his bed and down the road to his favorite pub. It took him fifteen years before he managed to finish the tunnel and pop up for a pint while his wife slept.

The-Shawshank-Redemption-stillNow, before you get any ideas about digging your own tunnel, you should know that this “news story” turned out to be a bit of Irish blarney—it didn’t really happen. However, I think it struck a chord with those who thought it was true because they saw themselves in Patsy’s efforts. We waste a lot of energy trying to avoid unpleasant situations. Metaphorically, we’ve all dug our own holes to hide in—and we’ve been digging some of them a lot longer than fifteen years.

  • A friend says something that hurts our feelings, and, instead of talking to them about it, we dig a hole and avoid the hurt.
  • Someone close to us gets caught up in a sin that’s leading them down a wrong path and, rather than confront them, we dig a hole to hide in and pretend we don’t notice.
  • Sometimes, it’s even ourselves we’re hiding from. We realize we’re in way over our heads and instead of asking for someone else to help, we dig a pit to hide in . . . and then wonder why no one seems to notice or care.

The truth is our avoidance expends far more energy than simply confronting the issue head on. In addition, it’s negative energy—and nothing positive can come from it.

I think part of the appeal of the Patsy Kerr story is we want to believe that if we dig our hole deep enough for long enough we will be rewarded with something pleasant on the other end. If we put enough effort into our avoidance we’ll be rewarded with what we want. We’ve fooled ourselves into believing that avoidance is blessed, but the Bible never rewards those who refuse to lovingly confront.

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” not “Blessed are the problem avoiders.” His brother James said, “If anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). There’s no promise of reward or blessing in digging a hole. There’s no one waiting there to hand you a drink and show you a good time.

It’s just a lot of blarney.