I thought he loved me. I never expected her cancer to spread so quickly. He wasn’t supposed to die this young. But I just saw them yesterday. What do you mean the parents want their child back? I thought the adoption was finalized. I don’t want to try for another baby. I didn’t get accepted. They chose somebody else. I wish he was still here to see this; he would have been so proud.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
What do we do when life takes an unexpected twist, and we are met with disappointment? I may not be able to provide an answer, but maybe these words can serve as an arrow, leading you to take your next right step. Because the one thing we don’t want to do when our expectations, hopes or plans take an unanticipated turn for the worst is get stuck.
We get stuck when we choose to give up because we simply cannot do everything. Because the truth is, when life is difficult, it’s easy to think of reality in terms of black and white. All or nothing. I either get everything done or nothing at all. I do all the chores, make all the phone calls, do all the homework assignments, or I sit on the couch like a potato and watch a full season of my favorite show.
Perhaps we do this because we’re looking for clarity. We want to know what’s certain, real, and definite. We want answers, closure, and a sense of security. We want to know that in the midst of ever-changing events, something is constant. So, we categorize and break things apart. We name and label and put things into boxes to understand them only to find that they have busted at the seams. It’s hard to compartmentalize what is infinitely complex. We realize that what we thought was certain isn’t. The people we thought would be there aren’t.
Few things in life are certain, so how do we live within the grey? We accept that while we may not be able to do everything, we can still do something. I may not be able to do all the things on my list, but I could take a shower. Make my kid’s lunches. Show up to work. For the overachiever, this may sound repulsive, but in a time of uncertainty and confusion, something is better than nothing. We seek balance between the extremes and learn to accept that maybe it’s okay if we don’t have all the answers.
It’s okay to question. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be confused and disappointed and to feel misunderstood. It’s okay if you feel unseen, looked over and alone. Because when life flips us on our heads, we may become doubtful. It may be hard to make decisions because we just don’t know what’s true anymore. My dear friend, while life may seem unstable, may I remind you that there is one constant, and He is not threatened by the pains of this life.
There is a Heavenly Father who sees you. He is not afraid of your emotions. No anger, resentment or doubt could separate you from His love. There is room for it all in the presence of Jesus. As I write this, I am reminded of words in Proverbs 3:5-6. They read,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Sometimes we get stuck moving forward because we’re afraid we’ll make the wrong the decision. I’ve heard it said that what’s more important than the decisions we make is who we’re becoming in the process. Sometimes there is no right or wrong decision. There is just a decision. The real question is whether or not I’ve invited Jesus to come along for the journey.
So, as we walk into the fog of our unclear futures, may we take courage and be relentlessly gentle with ourselves along the way. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, yet here we are, taking our next right steps. As this piece comes to a close, may I offer you a few unfiltered tips to help you cope in this season as you embrace the unexpected.
May you allow the feelings and be patient with yourself and others. May you show up when you don’t feel like it and stay in to tend to your soul on the days it’s too much. May you find comfort in the familiar and embrace what’s new. May you choose to be present rather than dwelling in what could have been, should have been or what will never be. May you not miss the people in front of you while your mind is somewhere else. May you name your disappointment and process it in the presence of Jesus. And may you lean forward because even if you fall over and over again, you’re moving in the direction of progress.