July 6, 2018

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Reconnect with God when life’s detours bring the unexpected

Patti LambLast week, I joked to one of my sisters that sometimes life feels like a board game called “Detour.”

“Here are some cards I drew this month,” I quipped.

• Visit husband’s alma mater with the kids for a fun-filled trip down memory lane.

Detour: Car gets towed. Family must walk miles to retrieve car at tow yard. Owner demands $185 and only accepts cash.

• Find potential house to purchase in the event that our home sells.

Detour: Inspection of potential house reveals significant foundation damage and some other sketchy findings.

• Make final payment on the family car after five years.

Detour: Receive monthly payment plan for son’s orthodontia expenses.

I’ve never met anyone who likes detours, but when I encounter them, I find myself fighting them with all the energy I can muster.

I know I should be resolved to accept that life is full of unexpected events, when circumstances don’t happen according to our plans, and we find ourselves fielding “didn’t-see-that-coming” moments.

Recently, my wise friend Jennifer enlightened me when she shared an entry from the cancer journal she writes. Jennifer just finished the chemotherapy portion of her treatment, but her health took an unexpected dip just when she thought times would get better.

An excerpt from her Caring Bridge journal reads:

“…Whenever I am on what I consider a detour in life [physical, spiritual, career], I ask myself ‘What is it that I need to see. What is it that I’m supposed to learn?’ … I say ‘what I consider a detour in life’ because God doesn’t see any part of our journey as a detour.”

Jennifer is a strong woman of faith, so she asks God for discernment regarding what he wants her to see when life takes unanticipated turns. She made me reconsider how I think about life’s detours. Instead of using emotional energy for angst and to spite the detour, I should harness that energy to reconnect with God—my life source—and pray that I see more as he sees.

My friend has inspired me to look intentionally when life throws me a bypass. I’m learning that when we ask God to see as he sees, our views come more into focus. Instead of dragging my feet along the way, it would be better to change my attitude and ask God what he wants me to see along this route.

A few weeks ago, in the middle of an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, Jennifer got a phone call: her father went to his eternal reward. This past year has been detour after detour for my friend. But her spirit remains steadfast, and despite sequential setbacks, she continually looks to God for guidance.

When we feel so very out of control, I think that might be when we are closest to God because it’s in those moments that we realize it’s best to align our wills with God’s. As we all know, this isn’t easy. (Ahem, that’s an understatement.) When we recall, however, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, it becomes a little easier to stop trying to make sense of it all.

Discomfort during our human experience stretches our spiritual muscles, and I think it can actually enable us to grow closer to God when we trust that he has a greater plan.

Stated more eloquently from the Book of Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence, do not rely; In all your ways, be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prv 3:5-6).

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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