What to do When Your Story Hits a Low
Last Monday, I wanted to quit everything. Not a few things. Not most things. Everything.
The Perfect Storm
My day developed into a perfect storm of work and lost necessities and people getting hurt all piled on top of the normal demands of a Monday morning.
LIke most storms, it began with a calm. I was on call for the weekend. Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday my phone remained silent.
Then came Sunday evening. For the first time in 10 months, I received two consults that would both require surgery the following day. The problem wasn’t this new work, it was the 5 other surgeries already scheduled for Monday.
Knowing the day would be long, I walked in Monday morning early and prepared for anything. Well, almost anything. When I arrived I discovered that we were missing a part from the table I use. The part was so small and seemingly inconsequential that someone had thrown it away. Despite its appearance, I couldn’t do anything until it was replaced.
I was angry. I was frustrated. I was growing increasingly tired from thinking about how tired I would be.
I was so consumed by the moment that I could think of nothing else. I wanted to quit. Run away from it all. Go somewhere where nobody could find me and ask me to do one more thing for them.
I wanted to quit my job. I wanted to quit writing. I wanted to quit caring. I wanted to quit life.
After starting at 5:30am that morning, I finally arrived back home at 8:00pm.
The Article 5
Two days later I was still feeling the effects of Monday. Then came beautiful news. Like the first drop of rain after a summer drought, an email from China splattered across my dry, parched throat, quenching my thirst for life.
Our Article 5, the next to last approval we would need before traveling to China, came. Monday and all of its frustrations, left my mind. My frown turned into a smile that could not be erased from my face.
This experience reminded me about 2 realities that accompany living a better story.
1. Hard times will come. There will be days that make you ask why. Days filled with so much trouble that you want to quit.
2. Good times will come. There will be days that will cause your soul to rejoice in ways you never imagined.
This is the stuff of incredible stories. Highs and lows. Peace and Conflict. Joy and Sorrow. Love and Loss.
These highs and lows are part of everyone’s story. But sometimes the lows are so bad, that we find ways to limit them. To minimize their impact. To make them hurt less.
We dam up the river to prevent the chance of flooding. But we also prevent the life-giving water that the river brings from ever reaching our thirsty roots.
We sabotage our own story by removing anything that could cause us to experience those lows. We quit the story because we don’t ever want to be disappointed again. We don’t want to lose another person. We don’t want to be hurt ever again.
The problem, though, is that when we try to avoid the lows, we inadvertently avoid the highs. The two go hand in hand.
A Road Sign
When we understand that they will come, we can learn to use these lows, the ones we typically avoid, to guide us.
What should we do?
We embrace the lows. We don’t find pleasure in our personal pain. But we remind ourselves that this is part of a story that is better than if the low’s didn’t come.
The low’s are a road sign reminding us of our purpose in life.
- Stop avoiding the hard times.
- Acknowledge the pain.
- Step into it as part of the story.
- Keep moving forward, taking the next step.
When life hurts, when you hit an impossibly difficult low, learn to embrace it. Learn to make it your own. It is the sign of something better.
It is the sign of an incredible story.
How do you avoid the low’s in your life? Have you quit something that would have made your story better?
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