When it all gets turned upside down

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Much has been written about change, but when your world's realities shift all at once it makes you stop and think. Then you know you need at least one foundation that is constant. What is it?

Jackie was experiencing numerous inconsistencies causing her to revaluate her whole outlook on life. What were her priorities? What could she control and what should she let go? Her family had always been a constant, but Jackie had given little thought to how their lives, health and jobs could suddenly go awry. Jackie knew that people age, children grow up and leave home, but life goes on.

When she heard that a relative much younger than her had developed cancer, she had to look at how quickly her life's plans could change. The relative had a young child, and the whole family depended on and loved her. If you're a Christian, you don't necessarily ask why because you know God always has a reason for allowing circumstances to materialize. But you wonder how experiencing such occurrences will affect your perceived outlook and image of life. You wonder what will ultimately happen and especially, how those living the drama will deal with it.

A beautiful tree in your yard gets blown over by strong winds. A child living there says, "Oh no, that was my favorite tree." He's sad. You watch people as they age. You're in awe at how drastically and suddenly things can turn around. What you believed would always be, is now gone. What you thought would never be, is.

Jackie took note of other people's changing attitudes and how they now interpreted experiences differently than before. As life went on even more altered their outlooks and mental attitudes, changed by living.

A different road now sprawled across a nearby park. Jackie drove and focused on other new streets in town she hadn't noticed before. "Oh my, how different things are becoming!" Jackie too, had found out that she may have a significant health problem. She wondered if the results of the biopsy would be good or bad. If she needed surgery, would she be able to keep up her current pace, the one requiring abundant energy but that brought her indescribable joy and enthusiasms? Jackie prayed. She knew a positive outlook brought better results than a negative one. But since she had always been exceptionally healthy, the diagnosis gave her cause to address issues she had never needed to face before.

Though Jackie knew that change is certain and ongoing, she saw a new reality now. She had a vision of what may be. Jackie was a person of great faith who prayed knowing God would answer her in a way that would benefit her. She especially drew courage and peace from knowing that God is always present and desires nothing but that she has the best. St. Francis de Sales provided solace and encouragement. He said, "God has not abandoned you so far; why should he abandon you now? Have no apprehension for future evils in this world for perhaps they will never come: but if they do come God will strengthen you. If God wills you walk on the waves of adversity, do not doubt, do not be fearful. God is with you: Be of good courage and you will be delivered."

"We all build little houses and designs for life as we go, and we often cry when someone tears them down. We shouldn't fret however. Because when night comes, death, they will be of little consequence. Our confidence and courage lies in the fact that we know when everything seemed turned upside down and fails we can then enter our Father's house forever."

Regardless of how the world turns God is unmovable. You can depend on his steadfast care forever.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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