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James Watkins

We had just moved into our very first house when a burly police officer appeared at our front door.

“I have a warrant for the arrest of . . . .” Oh no, I thought, they found out that I ripped off that tag from under our new sofa that reads “Do not remove under penalty of law.”

Fortunately my name wasn’t on the warrant! Unfortunately, we learned that the house we had just purchased in a nice suburb had been the neighborhood crack house. And that funny weed growing within the shrub was indeed “weed.” I was glad to tell the officer, “I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong person.”

And sometimes the lemon delivery driver comes to our front door, and our name is not on the delivery slip, either. Fred Smith, the president and founder of FedEx delivery, reminds us that we need to learn to distinguish problems from “facts of life.” If I can do something about it, it’s my problem. If I can’t do anything about it, it’s simply a fact of life.

Trying to sort out what part of the situation is a fact of life and which part is a problem is a tough question, but one that must be asked. We can’t take on problems that are not our problems. Yes, we can pray. Yes, we can seek help. But we don’t need to take responsibility for things that we had no control over.

So, when the lemon delivery driver comes to your door, ask to see the delivery slip. And if your name’s not on it, don’t sign for it!

Excerpted from Squeezing Good Out of Bad. (And if you’re currently unemployed, click here to order a free copy. Please only unemployed. The rest can order e-book or paper back editions at amazon.com.)

For more hope and humor, visit jameswatkins.com