The Crap Sandwich

Springtime is a beautiful season. So full of promise as new life erupts once again. Trees and flowers bloom with radiant colors. It’s the perfect time to sell your house the realtor says. Graduation and weddings are in abundance. Children anticipate summer vacation. All of these are wonderful and exciting. Tis the season of celebration and life changes.

So what’s with my title?….

Celebration is the easy part. Cake.

At graduation ceremonies, there will be many speeches about following dreams and finding purpose in life. That is not a bad thing. Hearing inspirational stories and how they challenge us to make a difference in the world are great. The students are on the verge of a major life change. They need the encouragement. They need to be pumped up.

There are many books and articles aimed at helping people find their purpose and live their dreams. It isn’t just a topic for the high school or college graduate. It touches the kid entering high school, the newly married, the newly parents, the empty nesters, the retiring… I know it has touched me. I have read some of those books and one of them recently. It seemed so full of promise. But at the end, I felt disappointed. It seems that all of them help some, but none of them help all. Perhaps that is because we humans are so unique in ourselves that no one size fits all method is appropriate. However, I believe there is a single element that is missing from all the motivational speeches or things I had read. It reaches across the board to touch everyone. Yes, I will be bold enough to say – everyone. I stumbled upon it in a blog while I was doing the very thing it was talking about. I was eating a crap sandwich.

When people talk about their purpose or their passion all you hear is the satisfaction you get when you do what you were meant to do. We hear about how fulfilling it is. The line goes “if you do what you love you never have to work a day in your life.” I believe there is truth to be found in those things but I believe there is something missing. It is the crap sandwich no one tells you about.

Mark Manson wrote a blog post entitled 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose. The “crap sandwich” as I call it was his first question. “What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich and does it come with an olive? The title alone compelled me to read as I wondered Who in the heck wants to eat that? What is this guys deal? What is he talking about?… I was not disappointed. He made the much-needed point quite well

 Everything sucks, some of the time.

People need to hear that. I needed to hear that. EVERYONE eats a crap sandwich.

The thought process of: if you aren’t enjoying what you do all the time then you are doing it wrong (or doing the wrong thing) – is wrong! It’s a load of crap! Everybody eats a crap sandwich. What we need to find out is: what is the crap sandwich that comes with what we think we want to do. Then we can make an informed and intentional decision. We can decide – am I willing to do that? If the answer makes our skin crawl or makes us want to run screaming in the opposite direction, chances are we won’t be happy with that choice. Sometimes that skin crawl or reaction to flee is simply fear due to ignorance that learning can overcome. But then we need to be willing to do that learning which might be the actual crap sandwich. The important thing is the sandwich must be identified.

This applies to more than just finding a purpose in life. There is a crap sandwich aspect in everything because Mark is right: everything sucks, some of the time. Spring is beautiful but weeds and insects return also. Are you ready? Putting your house on the market means getting an inspection which could lead to a costly repair. Are you prepared? The new place you buy might have higher utility bills than you planned or a mole problem in the yard. Are you willing to get a second job if needed? Getting married is awesome but people are people and don’t always agree on everything. Is working through the tough spots an option for you? The kids being on summer vacation can get bored if not properly occupied. Do you have a plan? It is not that I want to focus on the negative. I believe that identifying the crap sandwich empowers us because all those things can be met with intentionality which brings endurance or solutions.

Shining the light on what will be the hardest thing will empower the strongest decision.

There will be a crap sandwich, sometimes more than one of them. I found this to be true in my case. When I decided to write my story I understood and accepted I needed to revisit old wounds. This was a crap sandwich I was willing to eat. To endure the pain in the most constructive way I started going to a counselor. It was a good choice and made the crap sandwich not only edible, but it had, as Mark put it: an olive. I not only made it through the process, I grew. But then I discovered another crap sandwich as I wrote and prepared to publish – legal stuff (yuk). Things like copyright, logos, trademarks etc. Because I had chosen to self publish, those things fell on my plate. I found it tedious, bothersome and a little scary. The scary caused me to err on the side of caution but I still chose to eat the sandwich.

Knowing ahead of time gives us the presence of mind to decide if our reasons/passions are strong enough to endure the crap sandwich. It is like a tell in poker. Seeing which is stronger tells us how to proceed. Is the love, purpose, passion, or reason why stronger? Or is the crap sandwich stronger?

I discovered that even Jesus ate a crap sandwich. It is written that “he was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God!” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT) And in addition to the joy he expected there was love. The Bible says “no one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.” (John 15:13 AMP) Jesus knew what he was getting himself into. It was an intentional choice to love us more.

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What crap sandwich have you eaten? Or maybe refused to eat? I have some crap sandwiches in front of me that I am deciding which ones I am willing to eat. Do you?

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Colin Powell

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

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12 thoughts on “The Crap Sandwich

  1. Well written, as always! I am in the midst of making the exact decisions you are talking about (whether one crap sandwitch is more palatable than the other).

  2. Thank you Danielle. Another great read (twice). Your honesty and faith based connections are collective! My personal thoughts trailed off reflecting on the crap sandwiches I have eaten past and present; have created these sandwiches or were they served to me?A little of both i am embarrassed to admit. However, crap is crap and very toxic if eaten for too long! “I am ready for some Celebration Cake” and milk please…
    Be blessed…You Rock!

  3. Thank you Ruth. I am happy my article caused some inner reflection – that is my goal. I like how you added the milk to the cake like Mark added the olive to the sandwich. I know we cannot get crap sandwiches to go away but learning this I believe empowers us.

  4. Hi Danielle,

    A great article indeed, and for me personally, a very timely one as well.

    I do agree with you, there are so many books and articles aimed at helping you to find your purpose and living your dream. But as you say, it seems to be aimed at everybody and it normally just paints a nice picture. As you also mention the popular saying “do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life”.

    But that crap sandwich…, nobody ever mentions that. Why I say this article is very timely for me, is the fact that after many years I have decided to follow my passion, and straight out from the starting blocks, the crap sandwiches start popping up.

    At first, I started doubting. Is this really my purpose? Is this really my dream? But facing one of the latest challenges it became clear to me that I will not always know ahead of time what to do, what to expect or how I would have to approach it. But as they come my way God will give me guidance, as it is not about me, but about Him working through me.

    As I am having these experiences, I now get to read your article. If that is not confirmation, then I don’t know what to call it.

    Am I willing to eat the crap sandwich, knowing the purpose behind it all? Sure I am. One sandwich at a time, because as you mention in one of the other comments above, the celebration cake will come, and I believe it will outweigh all these sandwiches.

    God bless you and have a great day,


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