Some seasons in life are just more difficult than others. Period.
Maybe it’s because of a project you’ve taken on, maybe you’ve lost a loved one, maybe you’re worried about money or you ended a relationship or you’re in a relationship that is taking a ton of your energy.
It’s inevitable. There’s no escaping it. Some seasons are just plain hard.
Something that occurred to me recently, though, was how often I make life so much harder than it needs to be. It’s not that hard things aren’t hard. They are. There’s no denying how a jam-packed full schedule or a loss of relationship or the sense you don’t have control over your surroundings can leave you anxious and frustrated. But I’m noticing lately how often my own response to those difficulties is to hunker down, so to speak, to grin and bear it until the season is over.
It’s like a kid on a roller coaster who choses to close his eyes and buries his head in his fear-crossed arms on the “scary” parts. His attempt to protect himself from the circumstance doesn’t actually save him. It just blocks his view. Lately I had an epiphany about this. I had to start asking myself:
What if I’m missing my life because of this tendency? What if my response to difficult circumstances is making it even harder than it needs to be?
When the steep hills come, when things seem to flip upside down, when I realize there’s no way to get off this “ride”, what if closing my eyes doesn’t protect me? What if it actually just blocks my view—from the bad and the good? What if a better response would be to try and find more ways to have fun?
I love the image of the roller coaster because the picture that comes to mind is of a little kid who decides to stop being scared of the ride. He realizes he’s on it already, anyway. There’s nothing he can do about that. So he might as well enjoy it. Right? Instead of closing his eyes, he opens them. Instead of crossing his arms and burring his head, he looks up and lets go of the handle bar. He lets the wind blow through his hair. He smiles. He’s having fun. His circumstances haven’t changed. Only his attitude has.
What would happen if we changed our attitudes when we couldn’t change our circumstances? Maybe we’d feel the wind on our face and through our hair. Maybe we would smile instead of hunkering down, afraid. While we can’t choose our circumstances, we can choose our response to them. We can choose not to take ourselves too seriously—to laugh at our biggest mistakes. We can choose not to let stress get the best of us. When we’re up to our knees in paperwork, we can make a game out of it. When we’re stressed about finances, we have gratitude for beans and rice the same way we would for an expensive steak. We can choose to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel (rather than the dark tunnel itself).
Maybe, if we do this, we’ll start enjoying this crazy ride—rather than burying our faces and waiting for the day we’ll be able to get off.