When All Hell Breaks Loose, What Do You Do?
New Year's resolutions never really go all that well. Don't get me wrong -- January is the perfect time to reboot and put together a blueprint for the year ahead, but let's face it: Most of us come up with some pretty unattainable goals and benchmarks.
We start out the gate strong, but by February 1, we're off the wagon. Maybe I'm making some assumptions here, but if you're anything like me, most of those "New Year, new you" proclamations end up dead and gone pretty quickly.
So this year I was all about coming up with a "vision" for the year ahead (life coach Valorie Burton has been to TheBlaze a few times lately and she's been giving me some excellent tips).
Taking her advice in hand, my wife and I actually mapped out a foam board (one for each of us) showing how we want the year to go.
It's totally different from crafting resolutions, as you use photos and text to lay out your goals, aspirations and intended mindsets for the year ahead.
On my vision board (I know, I sound like I've been hanging out with Oprah too much) I have plans and visions for building a better relationship with God, family commitments and what I want my professional life to look like.
It's all pretty nifty and I finished most of it over the weekend.
With all that done and ready to go, I went to bed this past Sunday satisfied and prepared to start the week off with a bang ... and around 3 a.m. Monday morning, that's exactly what I heard.
A big, loud bang.
I won't bore you with the details, but that sound ended up being a burst water pipe in the garage (apparently, new homeowners are supposed to know to empty the garage pipe, as water expands when ice forms -- and that creates some unpalatable problems like burst pipes). Lesson learned.
While I was sweeping water out of my garage in the middle of the night, arguably looking like a crazy person to any of my neighbors who were awake and watching, it dawned on me: Just as I was planning to start the year off right, all hell was breaking loose.
Rather than focusing on how to improve, I was stuck focusing on how to remove streaming water from the inside of my house. And I wasn't reacting all that well to it.
Then, today, my 16-month-old got sick, I burned food on the bottom of the oven and was forced to clean it for an hour and I experienced a bunch of other annoyances and setbacks. All minor, but cumulatively ... obnoxious.
Earlier, I was muttering about how "this is the worst week ever" and how "everything that could have gone wrong went wrong." Dramatic, I know.
But then I realized something: These incidents were all distractions -- things that held me back from focusing in on the broader aspirations for the year ahead. Just as I was ready to implement and focus on each item on that trusty vision board, my attention was diverted and it all made me pretty grumpy.
And my reaction was just making it that much worse.
Rather than continuing to complain, I realized at some point tonight the importance of praising God for all I have, even when I feel too annoyed to do so or when things aren't going well. After all, it's much easier to focus on what's broken than it is to look at the positives.
We can't live in a bubble and pretend that life is always picture perfect, but we can try to change our worldview so that we react more positively when challenges get in the way.
And, just so we're clear: I'm by no means lecturing. I won "worst complainer" (and "funniest" and "most superstitious") in my high school superlatives (I campaigned for "funniest," so we can't really count that one). I, like many, have been known to spend way too much time focusing on and voicing what's wrong in life.
But I can't imagine that's what God wants for you and me. Maybe it's time that we all make a change -- a change in our vision and worldview for the year ahead (and, obviously, in our daily interactions and tasks). And that change, as corny as it might sound, all begins with how we respond to what happens in our lives.
Consider what Charles Swindoll once said: "Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it."
All too often I live like it's the other way around. It's time to reverse that trend. Are you with me?