Labor Day weekend is here, and I love the season that lies just ahead. Another spring and summer have become a treasured part of my personal history, but they did not leave me with a warm, friendly feeling this year. No, the four months that just passed have been difficult one’s that will stick with me for life. This is primarily because so many significant things happened that changed our lives forever. These were momentous issues that forced us to slow down, consider the impact of circumstances, and look honestly at each other with greater appreciation. Scripture says that life is like a vapor, and it can change in an instant. I have come to realize that truer words were never spoken, and I am looking forward to what comes next.
Let me give you just a partial list of what happened in our lives. To begin with, I went back into teaching, and fortunately for me the kids and school system I am in absolutely love me. Next, our church is experiencing a powerful presence of God, which is bringing growth, and growth brings challenges. My grandson and I had a motorcycle accident. He was fine, but I broke my lower right leg in 4 places. I have had two surgeries, a titanium rod in my tibia, with five screws, and am still on crutches in recovery. My eldest son and his family were forced to move far away from their friends and family, to look for work. Right after the move, he became ill and landed in the ICU. Doctors installed a pacemaker in him at age 41, but he still needs open heart surgery, his gallbladder may be removed and a blood clot must be taken care of on his kidney and in his heart.
All this time I have been laid up, which means my work at the school ended abruptly in May, and that impacted our finances. Medical bills piled up, and my wonderful wife Esther has been carrying 100% of the workload around our house, without complaint. Others have had to carry extra responsibilities at church, where Esther and I pastor, in spite of their busy schedules. The garden I planted in May became a jungle, even though people did come to weed it. I crawled out there occasionally to get what vegetables I could. That was actually enjoyable, but painful. My lawn needed to be cut, and now it needs to be bailed like hay. Finally, both our vehicles needed work that was not cheap. Yup… some significant changes came, and we had to embrace them all without feeling sorry for ourselves.
Am I frustrated in all this? I have to admit, there were late nights I was awake in pain, when my answer to that question would have been pretty negative. Nothing in me wants to sit for months in a chair, with my leg elevated, until my bones heal. Nothing in me wants to have others wait on me, or do what I should be doing for myself. We did not take our Kayaks out on beautiful, sunny days. My wife and I missed riding our bikes in the cool evenings. I missed all the wonderful hikes into the Adirondack backcountry, where I usually go trout fishing. My freezer does not have a supply of speckled trout for the winter. I never got to ride my motorcycle during the best days of spring and summer. I still can’t scout out where the partridge, turkeys and deer might be found before hunting season opens. No nice evening walks with my wife. Nope! None of that happened this year. All this because significant changes overtook us and they had to be embraced, and reconciled to our life as it really is.
There was nothing I could do about all the things that happened. So, I could either get angry, and sit in self-induced depression, or I could deal with it and go with the flow. More importantly, I had to learn how to have a good attitude about everything, and let the love of God, and our love for each other, carry me through this rough season. I can’t get back the time I lost when I should have been trout fishing. I can’t regret the roads I never took my motorcycle down, or the quiet days I missed in the Adirondacks, or evening strolls with my wife. These great pleasures were not to be mine this year, and as the summer ended, I had to resolve something within myself to those difficult realities. I had to let it go, and look forward to what was yet to come.
My point is simple. Where we focus our attention and energy, makes all the difference. It does not change our reality, but it changes the atmosphere and our personal outcome. When we focus on what has been lost, that becomes the thing that takes our life over. The sad part is, we can’t change our past, so letting it control our present gives it the power to dictate our future. Now ask yourself, is this what you really want for the rest of your life? Is this how you want to live out your days? My decision was to stand up, walk above the circumstances, and refuse to let them direct the narrative of my life. Do I like what happened? Of course not! But am I going to let events that were out of my control, be in control? Absolutely not!
We have to remember that life is fluid. It moves and changes from hour to hour, day to day and at times, one moment to the next. It might be a painful place of discouragement right now, but that will not last forever. The worst of times must pass, and they will be nothing more than a bad memory that fades away. If you let a negative mindset rule during the difficult season of your life, it will rob you of all the good that is being accomplished, and the great things that are still ahead. Why let something that so quickly fades away, have that much power over you? The faster you learn to just “let it go”, the faster you will get to the good stuff that comes next.
Many things in life will be out of our control. Things like disease, the death of a loved one or the loss of a job are going to happen. A hundred things can come at us, and there is nothing we can do about them. That being said, we ARE in control of HOW we respond to those things. Every one of us has a free will, and that gives us all the power we need to choose what our response will be. Does it make a difficult situation easier? Probably not! But, it does make the journey through it better for everyone. We can have a good attitude, and make the best of a bad situation, or we can make a bad situation even worse, by adding our miserableness into what already sucks. Your choice will either make you better or bitter. The thing is, what comes next, really is up to you!