I had lunch the other day with a colleague. She mentioned that she and some other women were going through a workbook entitled, Navigating a Life Interrupted. The series led the reader through a parallel comparison of the biblical figure, Jonah, and our lives today. The term, Life Interrupted, instantly resonated in my soul as a great way to describe many of the experiences of life. Think about it: How many times have you been on a “road” to some ideal, some expectation, some hope, dream, plan—you name it—and you find your road blocked. Impassable. Go another way. Turn around. Something other than, mission accomplished. You have been there haven’t you? We all have. To not have your road blocked in some way, as you travel through life, is to not have lived more than a day. Yet, I am so surprised when it happens, as if something strange were happening to me, and me only. We have all felt like a helpless victim at some point of the Life Interrupted journey.
Here is a quote from Navigating a Life Interrupted forwarded to me by my daughter, “Interruptions are not limited to huge, horrible things. In fact, they can be rather minor by comparisons. Car trouble. Chicken pox. A funny, spoiled smell in the meat you’d set out to cook for dinner. Still, it’s caught you by surprise. You weren’t expecting it. You were traveling along with your list of to-dos in mind, fully knowing what the day held when something just crept up out of nowhere and caught you off guard. Suddenly your schedule is shot to pieces, along with all your preset notions on what it would take to get everything done. You’ve been blindsided, forced to deal with a new wrinkle, a new obstacle to navigate around.”
So, what are we to (1) learn from these life interruptions, and (2) what do we do with them?
The answer to those two points will correlate with who and what is the source of your hope. This refers to the existential issue of what is your definition of the meaning of life. If all your paths lead to you (you are the center of your universe), and if you are fully in charge of your life, then you are the only one who makes interruptions. But if you have lived long enough, and been observant enough, you have noticed that bad things happen to good people, as do good things happen to bad people. You are forced to face the reality that someone/something exists beyond our control. If you believe in a sovereign God (One who is ultimately in charge of this cosmos), then you recognize that He may be causing—or allowing—things to happen that do not always make sense. And, happenings that I feel may be in my way, or, life interruptions.
I adhere to a conviction that I have the freedom to hold things tightly, but I will need to do so with an open grasp. I do make plans, I do set out with a specific direction for the day, or for that matter, for life, but I am keenly aware that “stuff” happens, which may interrupt my plans. Another quote from the book that speaks to this, “we’ve all seen our Plan A’s take a backseat to other realities—realities we just don’t want to accept or live through. Yet here they are. This is our life. We can run but we can’t hide.”
Peace is found in embracing these life interruptions, and, if applicable, learning from them.
We are all on a learning journey. Sometimes the lessons along that journey are small, sometimes large. But whatever the scale, to learn from them, and make the necessary changes to our life, will result in more peace. To insist that they never happen will set us up for constant frustration. As a patient once said, “you can be right, or you can be happy, but you can’t be both.” Control what you can, and release your grip on the stuff you can’t control.
Seek to better know the One who has His hand on the controls.