It’s been a tough week. School started and I wasn’t there. For the first time in thirty-three years I didn’t decorate my classroom with colorful frogs, prepare fun opening day activities, or pick out a “first day of school” outfit. I am done, finished…….retired. I fully expected to feel happy and free but instead I feel disconnected and at loose ends.
Life is not static. Changes come like the rise and fall of the mountains. Just when we sigh a breath of relief on the downhill side another slope ascends before us. Right now I feel like I am facing Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. I can’t see what waits for me on the other side and the climb seems difficult, my footing unsure . I am reminded that it is in exactly these times that faith propels us to the top. It is faith that helps us take that first step, faith that whispers “don’t look down”, and faith that assures us that we’re almost there.
When I focus on ME and try to control the climb, I stumble every time. But when I concentrate less on my own effort and more on “The Guide” the rise to the summit seems possible. Now, I am not there yet but I am “in training”. Taking baby steps and scaling small peaks is preparing me for the precipice that is this new life of mine. We all face cliffs and crags in our lives, but remembering to cling to “The Rock” helps us face those challenges and the unknown without the fear of falling. Let’s shout that from the mountaintops!
I’ve just returned from a wonderful visit with my family at my sister’s lake house! Every year, something I look forward to is climbing aboard “Pink Panther” and taking a cruise around the lake. I enjoy seeing all the cottages along the shore, waving to people in other boats, and the feeling of the breeze against my skin on a hot summer day. This year things were a little different. We climbed aboard alright, however we didn’t have the cruise we’ve had in the past. You see, Pink Panther was a little under the weather and unable to fufill our cruising expectations.
How many times in our lives do we embark on something with certain expectations only to find those expectations not met? A friendship? A Job? Marriage? Parenthood? So many times in our lives we set ourselves up for disenchantment simply because our expectations are not realistic and so when others don’t meet them, we ultimately perceive them to let us down. The sad reality is that so often in the midst of the disappointment we are ready to jump ship, swim to shore, and find a new vessel without realizing that we are the ones who have caused the malfunction.
I know I have brought about heartache in myself and others all because I had a picture in my mind of how I expected something to go only to find that my picture and reality were two very different things. I’ve experienced that sinking feeling when I felt my friends were not doing what I thought they would. I remember floundering as a new teacher because the real world of the classroom wasn’t what I envisioned it would be. Marriage and parenthood? Well, suffice it to say I haven’t navigated those waters without going off course. The kind of wife and mother I thought I would immediately be has actually taken a long voyage with lots of rough waters along the way.
The vital lesson I’m learning is that we need to stay the course. Life isn’t always smooth sailing. People, situations, and most importantly we ourselves are not perfect. Storms, failures, and disapointments are going to come. There is no way we’re going to meet all the expectations others have for us or we have for ourselves and so we can’t expect those in our lives to meet all of ours either. On those picture perfect days floating along life’s way is easy but when our husband, wife, or children let us down, the promotion doesn’t come through, someone we love is suffering, or even if we feel betrayed by a friend it can seem we are flailing about in unchartered waters. When I find myself in times like these I am trying to remember to trust the one true “Life Preserver” and grab ahold of God to keep from sinking into despair. Trusting is often hard for me, like paddling against the current but I am finding that when I stop anchoring myself with “my way”, “my expectations” and begin to trust, it frees me to give up the helm and hold on until I make it to shore. Our excursion through life may not always be what we expect it to be but it can be like Pink Panther when she gets her new parts….Better Than Ever! Happy Cruising!