Life Lesson #8: This Too Shall Pass


THIS TOO, SHALL PASS

When things are bad, remember:

It won’t always be this way.

Take one day at a time.

When things are good, remember:

It won’t always be this way.

Enjoy every great moment.

— Doe Zantamata

When I began my first real job as an adult, my boss would frequently say, “This, too, shall pass.”  It became one of my favorite reminders when things got stressful.  Over the years, it has served me well.

After twenty-plus years of chronic stressful situations, I have learned it is very true that everything really does eventually pass.  While our lives may not ever be the same afterwards (sometimes they are better!), there is always a nugget of gold to be mined from each event.

What can I learn from this experience?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we need a catastrophic event of sorts to sort of “knock us in the head”. We are brought up short, caught off guard, and sent reeling with the impact. At the time, it is painful. It feels as if life as we know it is over. We wonder, “How am I ever going to survive this?” Other times, the “event” was immensely pleasurable, making our hearts soar with love and joy. We can’t believe this has happened. We can’t believe we’ve been so lucky. (Remember the butterflies associated with spending your first “date” with the man of your dreams or hearing that you received the promotion you’ve been hoping for forever?) Whatever the experience, there is always something to learn.

What can I be grateful for in this moment?

With catastrophic events, it isn’t always easy to be grateful initially. The grief and disbelief keep us pretty focused on the hardships ahead. Once the initial shock wears off, however, we may be able to broaden our thinking.

A few years ago, one of my daughter’s was having health issues. I received a call at work from her doctor saying they wanted to do further testing … that she might not ever have children … that she might have a “syndrome”. My initial feeling was that the room was spinning. My heart sank, my mind starting thinking worse-case scenarios (She’ll never have kids? Is it my fault?), and I was heartbroken (for both her and me). Shortly thereafter, however, the following thoughts broke through my devastation: Wait a minute. This doctor doesn’t know anything at this point. She is just speculating. God is in control here. He has held my daughter in the palm of His hand since the day she was born. I am trusting HIM. Just because she may never experience pregnancy herself doesn’t mean she will never be a mother.

As the days passed, and my daughter had the recommended testing, it turned out the syndrome the doctor suspected was a false alarm, and there is nothing to suggest she will have difficulty with pregnancy. The doctor made a poor judgment call in alarming us before the fact.

In the interim, during the unbearable waiting, I prayed; and I contacted some of my best prayer warriors to ask them to pray. Prayer is a powerful thing. Until you’ve tried it and experienced it for yourself, you may not realize that. (On a side note, if you have not yet seen the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers, please go see it. It is such a wonderful movie!)

What is really important to me and do I need to make some adjustments?

My father always taught our family that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes catastrophic events are allowed in our lives to make us reassess our lives and figure out what is really important. After some serious soul searching, I discovered that in the big huge scheme of things, whether or not my daughter could have children one day really isn’t a “big” thing. It’s more important to me that she is happy, that her overall health is good, and she finds meaning and purpose in her life.

When my son was six years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We were told the news the same day that the doctor suspected my youngest daughter might have TB. It was not a good day. My son was crying that he didn’t want to go to the hospital; my daughter was crying because she felt crummy from pneumonia (turns out she did not have the TB the x-ray alluded to). For a while that day, life as we knew it, stopped. For the next week, my husband and I lived at the hospital with our son while I learned how to care for his needs in a whole different way. (My husband has Type 1 diabetes as well, so he and my son were fine to come home sooner; but it was important that I know how to care for him, so they had us stay longer.) While my son adjusted to four insulin injections a day and at least as many finger pokes, I adjusted to giving the injections and learning how to monitor food portions and carb/protein/fat ratios. Life was never the same … not bad, just different and with more responsibility.

There were days that followed where I felt sorry for myself and our family; but the beauty of spending time at Children’s Hospital-Boston was that all around us were parents and children who, while tiptoeing through landmines of cancer and debilitating diseases, were making their way through it with smiles and grace. It put a whole new perspective on things. I didn’t have to contend with wheelchairs and IVs and ports, lengthy hospital stays, or the prospect of death; I simply had to make some minor adjustments. I’ve found that everything in life is all a matter of perspective.

In every experience we encounter in life, there is always something to learn. We learn how to think differently, how to put things into proper perspective, how to be grateful, and how to become resilient. We learn what is really important, and we discover what we are made of. We learn what is worth fighting for and what we need to let go of. We learn that life is worth living and people are worth loving. We learn that we can’t do it alone.

We still have bad days at our house, when life gets overwhelming and the responsibilities weigh us down, but amidst it all, we remember … THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS.

Walking in gratefulness …

Lori Lynn

Life Lesson #6: When Life Gives You A Do-Over, Take It!


“Hard is trying to rebuild yourself, piece by piece, with no instruction book, and no clue as to where all the important bits are supposed to go.”  — Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

“It’s humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on a shelf & tell it to be quiet.”  — Jennifer Ritchie Payette

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Campbell

It has been a year of change.  No doubt about that.  Hopefully, the dust will now start to settle, and life will get a little more even-keeled.  A little over a year ago, my divorce was finalized.  In the divorce decree it was determined that my ex-husband and I would need to sell our home, and I would have to find a new place to live.  It’s interesting how we can become so attached to things … things that, over time, really don’t mean anything.

I was not looking forward to moving.  I liked my house.  I liked my neighborhood.  Mostly, I was not looking forward to going through the mounds of STUFF that my ex-husband and I had accumulated over our almost 22 years of marriage.  The thought of weeding through boxes of paperwork and unforgotten items buried in the corners of the garage exhausted me even before I began the onerous task.

When the offer came on the last day of February from a buyer who was adamant about moving in on April 1, I was not amused.  Whereas I was extremely grateful that we had an offer, I was in the middle of the busiest season of the year.  In addition to working full-time, I am a part-time organist at my church, and we were in the middle of Lent.  Not only did I have quite a few additional church services to play for, but I had also taken over as choir accompanist, since our other organist had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few days before Christmas.  Asking me to move out of a 3,500 square foot home in one month was like asking an accountant to move on April 14.  It was a highly stressful time.  To top it all off, the place I was moving to–a townhome under construction–was not going to be finished for another two months.  I was temporarily displaced and living out of a suitcase with my parents.

Two days after moving into my new townhome, I had to fly out East to attend my son’s high school graduation and move him back home to live with me.  While I was away, my two daughters had to fend for themselves attempting to find things that no one had a clue as to there whereabouts.  It took me weeks after I got back to even find my pots and pans so, needless to say, we ate out a lot.  Definitely not good for an already stretched budget.

We survived and are just now getting more fully settled in.  We’ve made room in the garage for at least one car!

As if that weren’t enough stress on my plate, I decided to apply for a different job … a lateral move within my company … but I thought, “What the heck … new year, new life, new townhome, why not a new job?  I’ll make it a complete do-over!”  So, in a few weeks, I am about to embark on a new adventure with the hope of learning some new skills that will make me more marketable.  I am hoping within the next year to go back to school for my Master’s.  I am hoping to reconnect with my creative and less-stressed self from my pre-marriage days.

God has graced me with a do-over on multiple levels.  I could have chosen to ignore the nudges He gave me.  I could have chosen to accept some and decline others, but some of the circumstances surrounding the changes were too obvious to miss.  My new job, for example … it was as if God was flashing a big neon sign in front of my face with a huge, flashing, boldly outlined arrow pointing, “Go here!”  (Pretty hard to miss nudges like that one.)

For someone who likes all of her ducks in a row before taking on new things, those of you who have read my earlier posts know that if there is one thing that God has taught me over the years, it’s that He won’t show me the next step on my path until I take the one He currently places in front of me.  Therefore, I have no idea where these new changes will take me, but I do know I am on the right path.  Until He shows me the next step, I’m going to enjoy where I am at.  I need not fret.  I need not worry.  I’m where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time, and God knows where the next stop on my journey is going to land me.

Embracing life (at the moment) …

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD … thank You for new beginnings.  Thank You for giving me glimpses into my past and future seeing how You so beautifully weave past experiences and future opportunities together into a seamless masterpiece.  Continue to point out Your plans for my life by presenting me with opportunities too obvious to miss. (Those flashing arrows sure are helpful!)  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

 

 

 

Life Lesson #5: Communication is Key


“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”  Henry Winkler

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

You know how they say if you assume anything, it makes an “a**” of “u” and “me”.  Well, I can attest to that; and it all could have been avoided …

For the past year or so, I have been trying to reestablish a relationship with a dear friend whom I knew years ago and with whom I had lost contact. Things started out relatively well until I started searching for answers to questions my friend was not willing to answer. Instead of leaving things lie and allowing my friend to talk to me in his own time, I became pushy in my desperation to get answers I thought I needed. In the process, I wound up pushing my friend away, and he accused me of having no respect for other people’s boundaries. My mouth dropped to the floor in righteous indignation.  “What? ME?!? No concept of other people’s boundaries?” What in the world was he talking about. I have a history of letting people walk all over me. I have a history of letting people bleed me dry … people who take and don’t give much in return. I knew I had boundary issues when it came to establishing my own boundaries, but I was taken aback by the accusation that I have no respect for the boundaries of others.

At first, I was furious.  How dare he! How dare he accuse me of being presumptuous, judgmental, and righteous to boot.  Who did he think he was? Did he not realize he was being the very things he accused me of being? To top it all off, he accused me of having a hard time understanding other people and their issues (something I happen to be very good at, which those who know me well will attest to).

It would have been so easy to lash out, but I didn’t. I realized there was some truth in what he said. I hadn’t respected his boundaries in this particular instance. He had given me fair warning but had failed to explain himself in the process (kind of like someone yelling “STOP!” as you’re driving along about to collide with a train bearing down at full speed, but you’re too busy talking to notice). Nonetheless, I knew by his tone and by his choice of words that I had crossed the line. He was hurt and feeling attacked. Defense mechanisms kicked in, shields went up, and arrows began flying.

Instead of shooting arrows back, it was time for me to apologize. As badly as I wanted answers to my questions, it was not worth the price of losing an extremely important relationship with someone I dearly cared about. The apology came easy. I meant it. I was sincere. The agony of wondering if the relationship has been irreparably damaged … not so easy to bear.

Had my friend explained a little bit about all the things going on in his life, I wouldn’t have continued to pester him with questions he simply couldn’t deal with on top of everything else. Although I’m very good at understanding the undercurrents behind people’s behavior, I’m a terrible mind reader; so if you’re unwilling to share anything, I’m afraid I will fail miserably. In this case, I hurt my friend deeply and that, in turn, hurt me.

Communication is so extremely vital. When communication breaks down, I don’t know about you, but I do start to assume. My mind kicks into overdrive, and I begin imagining all sorts of scenarios. Satan has a heyday inside my head … feeding me lies that trigger my insecurity and make me start doubting and worrying and second-guessing. It takes concentrated effort to remind myself that just because someone isn’t willing to communicate with me doesn’t mean they don’t like me; it may just mean they have to process things themselves first or they may just have a lot their plate at the moment.

Take my friend, for example.  Over the past year, he:

  1. sold his house,
  2. moved,
  3. started a new job,
  4. had his company file Chapter 11 bankruptcy,
  5. had been dealing with an ill family member.

As my former brother-in-law told me upon hearing I had lost my first baby in utero, “How can people pray for you if they don’t know what’s going on?” How can people walk alongside you as you struggle through life if they don’t know you are struggling? How can people share in your joy if they don’t know you are rejoicing?

Bottom line: Talk to one another!

In this most recent experience with my friend, yes, I was way out of line. I barreled my way past my friend’s boundaries oblivious to the consequences. My need to know something made me blind to the fact that my friend couldn’t handle my questions right now. When he screamed “STOP”, I finally could see the train in my peripheral vision. Suddenly the answers I thought I so desperately needed aren’t that important. What’s more important is that my friend is hurting, and it all could have been avoided if:

  1. my friend had just conversed with me instead of remaining silent, and
  2. I had not jumped to conclusions and made my own assumptions.

I forgive my friend for lashing out at me (stress makes us do crazy things), and I hope he will forgive me in time. In the meantime, I will pray for him … that his stress level will diminish and that lines of communication will once again open up.

Two-way communication fixes so much.  It alleviates stress, corrects misunderstandings, avoids assumptions (and the consequences that go along with them), and fosters intimacy and warmth. It may not happen immediately, but keep at it. Don’t give up. A good relationship deserves the hard work of pressing through and keeping the lines of communication open.

Talk to me …

Lori Lynn

Father … You bring people into our lives for a reason. When we mess up those relationships, may we do all we can to break through the miscommunication and hurt feelings by talking to each other openly until the issue is resolved. Life is too short to be angry and upset. It ruins our health and causes sleepless nights. Grant us grace to be more loving. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.