Many people plan their lives, and sometimes those plans work. There are other times that regardless of our planning, our lives go awry. Sometimes things happen to us that are outside of our control, and sometimes our choices create difficulties for us. Regardless of the reasons for the failure of our lives to go smoothly and consistent with our plans, we can all think of current situations that are examples of this, and some of these are tragic.
You have likely heard of two recent events that fall in the tragic category. The first is the kidnapping of the missionaries in Haiti. It is difficult to understand how people who have dedicated their lives to serving and helping others can be the victims of such violence. I am reminded of the book that was popular years ago about this, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. People of Faith struggle with this as much as others, although they ultimately accept that God is in control, and while they/we can’t understand this, we can accept it as a difficult to understand fact. I am not stating or even implying that God creates these tragedies, but he allows us as people of free will to do unimaginable things. Nor am I trying to preach about God. All I am doing is recognizing that some things are outside of our understanding and control, and we must accept that, or we will not be able to live in this world that can at times be full of bad things. It is, of course, also full of good things.
The other recent event that comes to mind is the accidental shooting of two people by Alec Baldwin while on the set of a movie production. While all of the facts are are not yet known about this, what has been reported is that Alec Baldwin shot a prop gun killing one woman and injuring a man. The lives of the family members of those tragedies will never be the same, nor will Alec Baldwin’s.
Many of us will never face tragedies of the nature of these two events. But we will all face a life that is different at times than the one we imagined or planned. Examples of events that we can face include serious illness and death of loved ones, including ourselves. We may also face job insecurity and disruption and serious financial hardships. COVID certainly has taught us that in spite of our best plans, our lives can change on the dime.
How are we to adjust when our lives change in a manner that is difficult? How do we continue to go through each day, trying to remain positive, yet dealing with serious problems? While I do not profess to know how others cope and manage their difficulties, I do know what has worked for me. Perhaps some of this will be helpful to others.
1. Remaining healthy emotionally and physically. This includes eating well, sleeping well, exercising, and being alone with myself. Walking and listening to podcasts provide a healthy outlet for me. Recognizing that as much as I like to be in control, the only thing I am really in control of is my own behavior and choices, never those of others. Not drinking alcohol for the last two years has been life changing for me in a very positive way.
2. Reading. Reading for pleasure and reading for insight.
3. Staying connected to my close family and friends. This is an area that needs more attention, but I treasure time with those I love. Healthy relationships keep us physically and emotionally healthy. I make time for connecting with others as much as possible.
4. Making decisions that obviously need to be made. For me, the best example of this is being open to selling our home in Raleigh. This is something we have been considering for a couple of years, and that some of our family and friends have encouraged us to do. The house is too much for us at this time in our lives. It is too big and has a second floor that we only visit when preparing for company. Mike and I travel a lot, so the physical and financial upkeep of our home no longer makes sense, other than emotionally. We have finally accepted that we need to make a change in this area, and have begun the process to do so. You will hear more about this as our plans evolve.
5. Staying positive, and being grateful for our blessings. While there is tragedy all around us and life seems out of control, we can remain positive and grateful. Sometimes we have to dig down deep, but we have the resources within us if we keep at it.
Enough about me. How about you? Are you finding that some of your plans for your life have gone awry? What have you found helpful in dealing with changes outside of your control?
Prayers continue and hope for a good outcome for the captured missionaries in Haiti. Prayers for comfort and peace for those affected by the Alec Baldwin tragedy. Hope for positive outcomes for those dealing with other problems, whatever their nature.