Coaching for the Abundant Life
“This is not what I planned! I’m going to miss out! I wish things were different!”
These were some of the many thoughts that went through my mind as I grasped to find another flight. My perfectly timed flight was canceled, and the next available flight was not until 4 days later. This meant I would be missing a good friend’s wedding. “I can’t miss this!” I thought as I scrolled through my phone to find another flight:
“If my situation would just change, I’d be happy.”
I found myself trying to change my circumstance, because I thought that would make me happy. And while it might be easier to be happy in a different circumstance, it was definitely possible for me to be happy in the place I found myself. This is because the emotion of happiness comes from a thought in my mind.
To add a cherry on top, I was on day 8 out of 9 days praying the Surrender Novena, where every day I repeated, “Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to You. Take care of everything.” Ironic? I think not. I believe the Lord was offering me a way to practice the surrender I was praying for.
So what did I do about my flight? Does surrender mean to say “I give up?” No, but rather to say the words of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
When my flight was canceled I called the airline right away, but it was out of a place of haste and frustration.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
Fortunately for me, I was put on hold. It was as if the Lord was saying to me: “STOP! You are trying to write this story by yourself, but I, your God, want to be involved!” After journaling and reflecting, I became aware of the thoughts that were leading me to anxiety and was able to see that they were not benefiting me. By becoming aware of my thoughts, I had the ability to choose to think differently.
… courage to change the things I can…
By the end of the day, I tried calling again, but this time I called to know and truly understand what was happening.
… and wisdom to know the difference!
While it still seemed true that I would be missing out, I came to realize that this thought wasn’t helping me. And in fact it was harming me by complaining and getting irritated. Instead, I could focus on what I could change: my thoughts.
My flight was still canceled, and I couldn’t change that even though I tried. So, instead, I chose to focus on thoughts that would be helpful: I could live stream the wedding mass, I could spend more time with my family, the weather was clearing up and I could take a walk, I had time to catch up on phone calls with friends… This change in plans actually could be for the better! If I had spent all my time focusing on missing out, I would miss the biggest gift of all: the present time which is right in front of me!
“Depend on the Lord in whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3