“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you go; they merely determine where you start.” – Noah Qubein
I am like a little kid when it comes to traveling, especially when it comes to travel by plane. I still prefer the window seat and it has always been something about the takeoff that excites me while I peer through the window once we become airborne. Even as I am writing this week’s post I am currently on the runway at Midway Airport in Chicago, about to take off and return home to the Bay Area.
As we sit here awaiting our turn to depart, I prepare for that exciting moment when the pilot says, “we have been cleared for takeoff.” Like so many others passengers, once we are airborne I gaze into the skyline on a clear day or night watching the earth below become smaller and smaller as we climb higher in altitude. And when it is cloudy there is something magical about bursting through that last cloud to once again see the beauty of the radiant sun and clear blue or dark vast sky and the stars.
Those cloudy skies or inclement weather patterns tend to carry some turbulence that is able to seemingly toss the plane around like it is a toy, however time after time and trip after trip we place our trust in the hands of the pilot and crew (along with a few prayers to God) to take us through the rough patches safely. Thankfully they do this more often than not each day all around the globe.
So what about those rough patches and turbulent times occurring in your personal lives? How do you find yourself navigating through them, if at all? I have found there are about three categories most of the world will fit in when it comes to how we deal with our circumstances. In my humble opinion, they are as follows:
1. Acceptance – this person will live with a circumstance as if it belongs to them and rarely feel a need to challenge, question or change it.
Many times one can find themselves in this place due to the simple fact that they become emotionally, physically and psychologically fatigued. Life is hard and sometimes the desire to fight no longer out weighs the pain being endured by whatever situation we are dealing with. Take for instance the plight of a single mother raising a child or children alone. The demand and expectation to be “on” everyday of each year can become a daunting responsibility. And although I see and personally know many single mothers that get the job done each and everyday, it does not mean they are not without those moments of feeling like giving in to what may seem like a never-ending struggle.
Sometimes the power of our reality will cause the hope and faith we have to believe it will get better, to shift to a negative only type of thinking. Our focus will literally begin to revolve around the idea that this thing will never change, and even if it does not the moment we begin to live as if it will not, we become victim to a way of life that welcomes defeat and this gives us license to lower our standards. Although this choice may bring temporary relief it will not bring sustainable fulfillment, so it is imperative that we consider the ramifications of our decisions.
2. Denial – this person will deny that there is even a circumstance or situation to contend with at all.
Have you ever met someone in denial of a blatant reality that everyone else seems to be aware of? It is quite a sad situation, because they continue to dig themselves deeper into the turmoil by blaming others or never taking any responsibility. Perhaps they have become so numb and cold that they fail to recognize or feel the pain of the circumstances any longer. Unfortunately our failure to see will not excuse us from future torment or provide any solutions.
Consider a father that has lost touch with his children. After years of ridiculing, emotional outbreaks and painful exchanges of blame, he is finally left alone. However in his mind he is right and due to his inability to really hear his children out, he continues to have a distorted version of the truth, which further perpetuates his dismissive attitude.
Sadly these people tend to die alone while being justified in their version of what was true. Not many choose to be around them because their lives our full of turmoil and pain, and as much as you want to reach out many times they still push you away literally or by remaining emotionally unavailable. Much of which has been created by the circumstances they chose to deny.
3. Positively Resistant – this person not only accepts that they have issues to contend with, but they are actively seeking ways to confront and rise above them.
Have you ever met someone who simply never gives up? Their acts of bravery are contagious and honorable. Sometimes it may seem as if they are not fighting anything at all, but never forget that they are. They have just learned how and where to focus their energy towards. Like you they may cry at night and encompass all the feelings of disbelief and frustration, however the difference is they wake up each day prepared to fight again, and the word quit is not in their vocabulary because in their minds there is no other option.
Often this individual is misunderstood for being insensitive because they allow little (if any) time for counterproductive conversations. He/she will utterly dismiss you, because they cannot afford unproductive talk to influence their focus. They have a plan and only want to work that plan, not make excuses or complain about why a particular situation did not work in their favor. When they fall, they rise up ready to plan for the next thing with more wisdom and knowledge.
I like to believe that at some point each of us will come to a breaking point or revelation about our own plight and circumstances in our lives. Whether we decide to do anything with it is obviously another matter. For most it will require great courage, unrelenting strength and a long-lasting commitment to ourselves.
A commitment that declares you are important enough and worthy of the work or change you want to see in your own life. Nothing is harder than starting because it usually means you have to take some sort of inventory and ownership of your current condition. No longer will the kids, your ex or current spouse, boss, or ignorance suffice for an excuse, because you began to realize that is exactly what it looks like to live below or at the level of your circumstances, and that is no longer okay for you.
So perhaps you are one of those individuals that was not afforded the luxury (if I can call it that) of a choice. The life and circumstances that you face have always been this way and you just deal with it the best way you can. I know many will fall into this category as well, so there should be no shame or judgment cast in whatever condition you find ourselves in. You just need to be aware of where you are, so that you can appropriately and effectively address the issues.
No circumstances will magically disappear. They all will require prayer, effort and a tenacious disposition. Even when you pray, let your prayer to not be to take the thing away, but let it be, “Lord give me the strength to endure the road I must travel on.” As you journey on this road you become like that plane. Initially you are on the ground level, but ultimately through your commitment over time you gain momentum and take off, eventually you will be above the storms of life, and you shall see the sun again.