This time of year brings back a lot of memories of how busy my life would be prior to the beginning of another school year. For all you planners out there, you’ve spent a lot of head space giving thought to school schedules, sports activities, music lessons, and all the other commitments that compete for space on your calendar. And I know that, given the amount of time you’ve spent on planning, you won’t be too thrilled when things don’t go according to plan. Yep, been there, done that (actually still doing that!). So I’m here today to suggest you ask yourself this question, “How will I respond when things don’t go my way?

There are a few things I am—structured, organized, predictable. And there are a few things I am not—flexible, spontaneous, impulsive. So I understand how hard it is to have a good attitude when things do not go according to plan. Some of us are naturally good at dealing with this aspect of real life (my husband, for one) and some of us are naturally challenged. But real life makes adjustments unavoidable (sigh), and just because it doesn’t come naturally for me to “roll with it,” I don’t get a free pass at having a bad attitude.

Knowing that my kids (at least one of them seemed to always be with me—what is “alone time” anyway?!) were watching motivated me to want to get this right. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell your kids how they should respond in life when they don’t get their own way if you aren’t modeling it. And, as a kid, getting your own way is both delightful and rare. So, yes, lots of opportunities for application. So, seeing as how you are a grown-up, what would you like to show them when your plans go awry?

Here are a few ideas that have helped me over the years:

  • Don’t baby yourself. You can’t control the immediate thoughts that enter your mind, but you can decide what happens next. 1 Corinthians 10:5 says “ . . . and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I especially like Proverbs 16:32 that says, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.” I often feel like I am in a battle.
  • Memorize scripture that the Holy Spirit can bring to your mind when the time is right. This has been a powerful tool that God has used in my life. And if the Holy Spirit has a hard time getting through, sometimes God will use good friends to remind you of the truth.

I remember when I had some hard circumstances at the same time I was battling an illness. I was NOT happy about the unexpected turn of events, and a dear friend of mine said, “You know it says ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.’” After I told him to shut up, I recalled the rest of that passage that I had memorized. And then I was the one who needed to shut up.

  • Turn it into a learning opportunity for your children. Let them know when you are dealing with something that isn’t going your way. Believe me, they can relate, and they want to know how to deal with it, too. Talk to them about the choices you need to make and how you can know which choice is the right one.