A young lady who was close to my wife, Sarah, was murdered in a domestic dispute a couple of weeks ago.
I don’t recall ever seeing Sarah so emotionally shaken by a life event. For several days, she quietly processed the events that led to the tragedy.
During that time our 8-year-old daughter, Madison, noticed something was different and began to ask what was going on. So I took her to breakfast one morning and spent some time talking to her about what her mom was experiencing.
After gently explaining the situation, I asked Madison if she understood. She quickly replied, “But mom’s a counselor. Why doesn’t she just tell herself what she tells her clients?”
I’m not sure her pointed response was the most compassionate or gracious for this particular set of circumstances. But Madison was saying (in her own way), Life happens. Expect the unexpected when you least expect it. [Tweet that.]
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about 3 principles for dealing with life’s unexpected moments. Jeff Goins addresses each of them in his newly released book, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing.
Here are 3 things I’m learning from Jeff’s book and by spending a couple days with him last weekend:
1. Slow down. If you are waiting for the most perfect experiences of a lifetime you will miss the life in your everyday experiences. It’s not possible to live in the past or in the future – all you have is now. You might as well take your time. And live in today’s moments.
2. Let go. There are times that even minor inconveniences become infuriating – sitting at a red light, a slow drive-thru line, customer service placing you on hold. But all of these are signs – reminders – that we are not in control.
3. Be grateful. You have a choice each time you face frustrating circumstances – you can try to shortcut the delays and detours, or you can embrace the growth that happens in the discomfort. There’s really no good reason to be in such a hurry anyway. Because you can’t get from where you are to where you need to be without traveling the path that you are on. [Tweet that.]
In 2002, Sarah and I spent a week in Kathmandu, Nepal visiting my sister and her family. The experience is one I’ll never forget – beautiful natural sights and sounds of the ancient city, religious shrines, the surrounding valley, and the mountain rises off in the distance.
One morning we received news that a military helicopter had crashed on the runway of the Kathmandu Airport – the only commercial runway in the entire country. The runway was badly damaged – no flight would go in or out until the repairs were made. To complicate matters, we were scheduled to begin a conference in the Philippines a day after leaving Nepal.
So my brother-in-law and I visited the airline office to find out when flights would resume service. We were told to come back the next day. The next day we were told the same. And the next. No new information. No status report. Just, Come back tomorrow.
I remember becoming more and more impatient each day – with the slow repair of the damaged runway, with the apathy of the airline agents, with my brother-in-law because he wouldn’t pressure them for more answers. Finally, he said to me – You’re not in the US. It doesn’t work that way here. When the unexpected happens, you just go with it.
What if, instead of complaining about these incredibly uncomfortable moments, we surrendered to the wait? What if we learned to live in these frustrating times with more intentionality, instead of resenting them?
If we’re honest, these moments of waiting often present life’s greatest opportunities to grow.
Question: Tell us about your experience with an unexpected life event. What did you learn? Share your experience in the comments.