Well, here we are again, starting a new year with fresh expectations and hopes, wondering how this year will be different from the last. Although I gave up making “New Year’s Resolutions” many years ago, I still wonder how each new year will be different from the last. In only a few months we will wrap up year two of the pandemic, and I dare say none of us saw this major event coming when we welcomed in the New Year in 2020. Clearly, the unexpected has become our new reality. But, perhaps, the unexpected has always been more “normal” than we previously imagined. So how do we live in the midst of the unexpected? How do we get comfortable with change?
By nature, I am a person who loves and embraces structure and order. I thrive when working within a plan and am flummoxed when someone says “just wing it!” Consequently, life has had its own set of special challenges for me. I didn’t expect to move five times in our first ten years of marriage (while having four children). I didn’t expect to have to cancel and/or reschedule commitments due to sick children, especially when I was trying my best to be responsible and make good decisions. And I didn’t expect to feel completely inadequate in navigating complicated relationships. Can you relate? If yes, then keep reading to hear what I’ve learned (mostly the hard way).
I changed my attitude towards the unexpected things in my life, accepting that life is full of unplanned situations and the “I’m in over my head” moments. I may not like it, but that doesn’t alter the facts. Giving myself permission to live a messy life where my days are not nice, neat, and orderly has been life changing. I re-defined what was normal. And I became less frustrated, less exhausted, and less whiny. Knowing unexpected things will be a normal part of my life has given me a paradigm shift of unequaled importance. It made possible a new level of contentment in my heart and mind. When I expected life to go as planned, I was living in an imaginary universe. Have you found yourself in such a place? I get it.
So What Now?
Here are two suggestions to move from change-resistant thinking to change-acceptance thinking. . .
- Try reading a biography of someone who overcame adversity. Their story will inspire you and inspiration is something we all need these days. Last year I read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown and I gained a fresh perspective on my personal challenges.
- Memorize some scripture verses like Jeremiah 29:11 where we are told God has a plan for my life (a GOOD plan). His plan is still happening even if mine isn’t. Now that’s a comforting thought and one that helps me sleep at night. I hope it helps you, too.
Thanks for these words of wisdom, Angela. I too am a person who likes life to go “as planned”! Very helpful reminder to let go of my plans and see what God has in mind.