We may not always have this perspective about our struggles, especially when we are going through them! When we get to the other side, this perspective of the challenges we face can bring healing versus stagnation. This view will help carry you through the next challenge. As you embrace each challenge in life as an opportunity to grow and develop the mind ‘muscles’ necessary to take life full on, the challenges begin to take on new meaning. Life is hard. It’s going to continue to be hard. The goal is not to avoid the challenges it is to grow through them!
I have returned from my European adventure. I did not want to come home I enjoyed it so much! The irony here is that before I went I did not want to go. That sounds snobbish to me…countless people would love to have the opportunity I had and I was whining about it. I had an attitude problem and it was rooted in fear. Traveling away from home is scary for me. It isn’t paralyzing fear because I go but before I leave I think of all the reasons I shouldn’t be going. I think of better uses for that money, I think I shouldn’t leave my clients for long, I think I shouldn’t give up the chance to make money (when I don’t see clients, I don’t get paid – the pros and cons of the self-employed), I think I shouldn’t put myself in harm’s way, I think I should just stay home and play it safe. Oh my! As one friend recently said, “There’s a lot of crazy in here!”
I believe the crazy thoughts have only as much power as I choose to give them. I got on the plane bogged down with anxiety. The moment I settled into my seat for the long journey over the Atlantic I was at peace and noticed excitement taking root in every cell. I began to think of all the sites we would see, food we eat and people we would meet. The fear vanished and was replaced with the anticipation of a fresh experience canvas being filled in.
Living in the fearful should/shouldn’t zone is life-quenching. It brings with it those nasty bindweeds that strangle joy and freedom. Recognize this when it’s happening to you. Name it for what it is then reclaim your freedom. Remind yourself that life is meant to be lived with depth and richness, with experience and risk, with freedom and joy!
I laugh when the very thing I write about catches me and spits me out! We planned a once in a lifetime trip for my husband’s mother. She is Norwegian but has never set foot on the soil of Norway…or anywhere outside of the United States. My husband had been promising her he’d take her there someday. At 81 someday needed to happen soon! So we decided to take the plunge this summer. The itinerary is planned, tickets purchased and passports are ready to go! Then, the unplanned jumped out and smacked us. My father-in-law’s health plummeted and my mother-in-law needs to stay with him. Go figure!
At first I was understanding. Then this nasty poison crept in. I realized we planned this whole trip for her! What!? You mean we’re spending all this money and taking time away from work (which for me with a private practice means zero income) and she isn’t even going? What?! Visualize my red face, temper rising, anger beginning to leak out all over the place!!!
In church a woman prayed, among other things, to speak blessings instead of cursings…healthy conviction began sinking in…well, after I had a little fit! Now I am amazed at my behavior. Really, Karen? You are incredibly self-centered sometimes. I must give myself grace as I always tell my clients and yet, I do hope that one day I can be more concerned about others than myself. Oh, and roll with the unpredictable a little earlier in the process.
I don’t really mean we can predict what’s going to happen but we can predict there will be winding, unexpected occurrences in our lives. I’m certain you know what I mean because if you are breathing you have experienced some moments or seasons you did not think were going to happen. Sometimes they can be good things…sometimes they don’t seem good at all. The best job you can imagine…a baby…a broken bone…a new house…a free cup of coffee…an accident…a call from a friend…a broken water pipe…cancer…a puppy… I could go on but I think you get the point. We have no idea what is going to happen in the next second, really. We can guess and sometimes our guesses are spot on but we don’t really know. Anything can happen. And you know what? That is life.
One of the biggest dangers we can get caught in is believing we know what’s going to happen. We are making assumptions and you know what they say when we assume? It makes an ass out of u and me. What’s even worse is we set ourselves up for disappointment. We can slip into an emotional downward spiral because we assumed or predicted and we were wrong. One of the best words of wisdom I’ve heard was from a man named Toby Shope. He was preparing me and others for a journey to Afghanistan. We learned how to dress and act to honor the Afghan culture.
Toby taught us to have a blank slate approach to our experience. Just let the canvas be filled in as I take each step of the journey. This concept has helped me so many times since the day I learned it in 2010.
My daughter Anna, whom I have mentioned in many previous posts, has Cystic Fibrosis and received a lung transplant in 2013. She’s experienced so many set back and challenges throughout her life. Just recently she learned she has rejection. At this point it’s treatable so we are hopeful. Learning of the rejection was a reminder that so much in our lives is out of our hands. The less I cling to what I think should happen the easier it is to accept what is happening…to let the blank parts on my canvas of life be filled in as I take the steps rather than having to waste a ton of energy erasing what I thought would happen and then trying to fit what is happening on top of the erased parts. It’s cleaner if I just let it happen…it’s going to happen anyway.