In this blog post, we’ll talk about how the unexpected can sometimes be a blessing in disguise and an opportunity for you to slow down and reflect.
One of my students has just past all the milestones (drivers' license, turning 18, graduating high school, and for some entering college) that make them legally and socially look like an adult, but we all know that adult maturity isn't automatically achieved at a particular event. It takes time, growth, experience to truly grow to adulthood. So, needless to say, we have a lot of discussions about time and life management. As I was talking with this student, I shared with him that he is way too hard on himself. For him, the fear of failure is quite paralyzing. I think he is so afraid of failing that he plays out a self-fulfilling prophesy. That means that what you fear and focus on actually becomes your reality. And that further fuels the fear. It turns out to be a nasty cycle. Why are we so afraid of messing up? Yeah, it could (depending on what it is) create a big mess that we have to clean up, but haven't you had your most poignant, eye-opening, and creative moments when you were forced to slow down? I know I have. Sometimes you feel like you can't slow down, there's so much that needs to be done, and then you push yourself to your limits and your body forces you to slow down. That’s when you realize that you can’t do everything…even though you wish you could.
I remember one time my back went out, and I had to lie in bed for a couple weeks to take strain off of it so it could heal. I went so stir crazy! I am used to being active and moving all the time. There was no way I could lay down for a couple weeks! Well, I didn't realize before that time how much your back actually controls. If your back goes out on you, there is NOTHING you can do without pain. It felt like even breathing at times caused me pain! So, I stayed still for about a week, and my back began to feel better... Well, as I was lying on the sofa, it gave me time to notice all the dust that was accumulating on my television stand... I began to feel antsy again...
Why have I not rearranged those DVDs? I can't believe I still have those tapes. I think if I moved the video games over there, it would free up some space on that other side, and before I knew it I was sitting on the floor in front of the television stand pulling stuff off the shelf and wiping it down, and quite basically, hurting my back again! When I tried to raise myself up off the floor, I realized I couldn't and had one heck of a time scooting back over to the sofa, saying the whole time that I will never do that again. And praying that if God got me back on the sofa, I wouldn't move again for the remaining time the doctor had told me to stay in bed!
When I made that decision, I found a book that I had been meaning to read but couldn't seem to find the time to read. It was Susan Orman’s Women and Money, and it was a very good read! That book planted a seed in me that eventually made me see how much power I gave to others when it came to my finances. I didn’t see it as that at the time, but you really know deep down inside when something rings true for you. At that point you have a choice whether to listen to that voice or ignore it…but you always hear it. Sometimes it's a good idea to take time for ourselves to slow down. Many times, if it's something we don't want to do, we look at it like a punishment. But if we look at it positively, it could work out to be a blessing in disguise. One of my regular statements when something happens, some unexpected setback, I say, "I guess God wants me to slow down. Everything happens for a reason." I try to give myself time to let things happen and find the good out of it, and miraculously, I usually can find something that was good about the unexpected, or what I initially thought was bad. Sometimes the good comes when I take the time to reflect on something that happened and that’s when I hear that still, small voice. Listen to your Spirit, I have learned it will NEVER steer you wrong.
One of my life confessions and goals is that with God's help, I can achieve balance in six areas of my life: socially, professionally, emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. I am gradually beginning to understand that for my life, my optimal level of living comes when I pay special attention to each of those areas of my life. In this blog, which is a work in progress, I am realizing that it is beginning to move toward that as well. A couple of weeks ago, I was in a car accident. Neither was I hurt, nor was the other woman either, and it was technically my fault. There was a time I would have beaten myself up for weeks feeling like a failure and mortified about the situation. It was a huge, unexpected situation, and I had only been in one accident decades ago when I first started driving. It’s interesting how you can be a huge encouragement to others when they are the ones going through something, but you don’t have that same encouragement for yourself when you go through something.
The filing process was new to me, and it wasn’t fun at all…however, I decided I would try my best to look at what I did have and focus on what I could learn throughout the situation and make connections that I didn’t have before. Unrelated to the accident, I even ended up getting a new client during the time, and I could have been way too stressed out to even care. It was a major time for slowing down for me (and relying on others), and though I did not like the situation, I have to admit, I loved the fact that I learned from it, and that I did not waste weeks feeling down or depressed. Pay attention to your progress, and celebrate those times when you can slow down. It might even help you to catalog them or write them down in a journal, so you can see that progress you’re making!