The anxiety washed over me as tho I was standing in the surf on a big wave day. Why? Where did this intense feeling come from? As usual it had started as a subtle hint of uneasiness and now it had built to this.
It was not the first time nor would it be the last. The feeling started deep within my core. Slowly flowing throughout my being until it covered me in a suffocating way that some times left me gasping for air. Depending on the circumstances the accompanying paralysis could leave me in a state of total immobility—or sometimes merely a feeling similar to being covered by a wet blanket.
This sensation had begun a few months back as a feeling of slight discomfort but now it had snow balled into a problem I needed to deal with and deal with soon. The reality of this emotion I had come to realize was always the result of an unmet expectation. The intensity of the anxiety was usually in direct proportion to the size of the expectation. Often times I wasn’t even aware , on a conscious level, of the expectation that was causing the problem. The time to act, clearly, was now.
The bible says in James 1:2-4 that “when the way is rough we should be glad because these trials will make us full and complete ready for anything”. This is a great promise because here God is telling us that when things don’t go our way; when we are upset by our perceived disappointments; that God, in His perfect wisdom, has a wonderful new plan and through this trial he has just made us stronger and better prepared to handle what ever it is He has ahead for us.
Understanding the deeper implications of this scripture was the first step toward lifting this cloud which could have such a paralyzing effect. This reflection brought me to understand that it was the gap between my own expectations and the reality of the disappointment of the actual failed event that was causing my despair. Rather than disappointment, the correct response should be one of joy now knowing that this perceived failure was really God’s way of pointing me in the direction of His plan. While at the same time making me stronger for the future execution of His plan.
It’s not always easy to jump for joy whenever things don’t go our way. But when they don’t I find that if I can just pause a moment and ask myself what the problem is, that on reflection, I will realize that I have merely been pointed in a new direction. This thoughtful response not only gives me peace but much better answers as well. While I am a Christian I believe that taking this reflective approach can work equally well regardless of a persons religious belief.
As a child when faced with disappointment my mother used to tell me—“equal joy with go or stay.” Oh how I used to hate to hear this when facing the cancelation of some much anticipated plans. But in my youthful ignorance I often failed to see the great wisdom in these six words. One never knows what tragic fate may have been avoided by this unexpected change in plans—or what yet discovered treasures lie ahead.
This lesson has changed my life and it can change yours as well.
Like a thief in the night the feelings described above can come upon me without a hint as to the cause. It may be much more subtle than an obvious disappointment but when I stop to analyze it’s origin 100% of the time I discover that it goes back to some unmet expectation that I had had that had not been realized. I have found that the best way to deal with this is to just let it go and welcome my new direction. When I am able to do that I always experience a new feeling of peace and tranquility that sweeps over me like a great release—and I am able to carry on my life with a new found joy accompanied by the positive expectations of good things to come—and so I think will you.
This then is a core lesson that has lead to the calming thoughts and feelings so beneficial to health and well being which is a major contributor to a long and healthy life.