They (whoever that is) always say “nothing is promised” or “life is fragile” or “things can change in an instant”! Growing up, my Mother would regularly remind us of the words of James telling us that “life is a vapor that is here for a while and then vanishes.” She is right. “They” are right! For us that instant was May 22, 2017…almost one year to the day since arriving in Tanzania and only half way through our two year missions term, and BOOM….everything changed in an instant. Our baby had a stroke. Two primary thoughts emerge for me today as I think on this unexpected twist in our story. One on perspective and the other on time. I'd like to share them with you.
1. Perspective. When life is just plain ole normal, certain things matter. Like what you eat for dinner or what movie you watch. And you have the energy for an argument or conflict over something silly. But when life changes in an instant, so does your perspective on almost everything. I will never forget that moment in the plane on my way to the states on 29 May. It was the first time I had alone time to sit and think since everything happened. I got my phone out, opened my task/to-do list app and deleted 24 things in less than one minute! Those 24 things simply no longer mattered. My son was sick, we were in crisis and if those things matter again someday, they will make their way back onto my list. As for now, I consider them behind me. Perspective changes when something throws your life upside down.
2. Time. When we encounter trauma or crisis in our lives, it can feel overwhelming. It did for us. And in the midst of it, I had enough wherewithal to learn a lesson that I tucked away for later. There is a progression for coping. It goes something like this:
- Minute by Minute. This is all we felt we could handle the first few hours/days. Some of those minutes felt like hours.
- Hour by Hour. After a few days went by, it felt easier to just think in terms of taking it an hour at a time. That was all we could bite off at that point. And often those hours brought major changes and developments.
- Day by Day. After we got back to the states and calmed down a bit, we felt the shift to being able to think in terms of day by day. We made plans and worked the plan. That was a new idea. It felt nice.
- Week by Week. Just now, we are starting to think and plan in week chunks. That is about all we can internalize and plan for as of now.
- Month by Month. That will come. Things will normalize and we will start to have the emotional bandwidth to make plans and have discussions that consider months.
- Year by Year. And yet, in the midst of all of this, we know that life simply flies by and one year passes faster and faster the older we get. And those minutes, hours, days, weeks and months are what make up the year…and indeed, our lives!
So, crisis or no crisis, every instant matters. Life is made up of instant after instant, isn't it?
What I’m learning,