Today, as I sit down to write, a line from my friend Erik’s book, The Best Advice So Far, is fresh on my mind. “You have to start from where you are, not from where you wish you were.” This morning, I have plenty of wishes:
- I wish I were further ahead in my writing.
- It would be nice if I better connected with friends over the weekend.
- I wish Jenny and I spent more time relaxing and having fun.
It is far too easy to dream about how things should have happened this week. The reality is that I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I had planned. This is one of those weeks where life happened… over and over again.
When Life Gets Messy: Our Story
My three girls were happily coloring at the children’s table in our dining room. I had finished up some yard-work and just stepped inside. It made me smile to see my girls so happy together. As the door closed behind me, life hit… hard. Just before the door shut, I noticed a black ball of fur scramble into our home. A mouse, I thought to myself. The deranged fur-ball, who must have been either frantically searching for food, or trying to get warm, immediately scurried over to where the girls were creating their masterpieces.
I’m sure the neighbors heard the shrieks three blocks down. The girls scrambled to their feet, and my wife and I quickly fortified them safely in their room. In an instant, Jenny and I assumed the roles of mouse-catchers. Thinking quickly, I covered our baby-gate with a sheet, opened our back door, and gently tipped our preschool table on its side. Jenny grabbed a broom so that she could gently coax our guest toward the open door. Confident that this little intruder was well contained in our kitchen, I cautiously pulled back the curtain, where he had been hiding… Then, life happened a second time.
An Even Messier Twist!
What Jenny and I thought was a mouse turned out to be a Kangaroo-rat (at least this is what we think it was). I don’t know how to describe what happened next. It looked very much like a scene from the original Super Mario Brothers video game. Much to our astonishment, this ball of fur began to jump. It hopped on top of my table-barricade, leaped to my desk, scurried to the other side, and bounded down to the floor. Using ninja-like moves, our intruder leaped half-way up our baby-gate barricade, grabbed hold of the sheet, and climbed over our makeshift wall. He then scrambled into our master bathroom–It was really cool!
After twenty minutes of trial and error, Jenny and I were able to gently sweep the Super-Mario-Mouse, into a giant Tupperware bin. We escorted the fur-ball outside and let him go. It was a catch and release success!
One of Those Weeks
Of course, this was only the beginning of our adventures. I could also tell you about our kitchen sink that clogged and overflowed. And how I was encouraged by the rental company to try to fix it myself. I could write about the heavy-duty drain-o that we poured in and how we waited eight hours for this to clear the clog. I could tell you about the mess that was made when it didn’t work. Or about coming down with the stomach flu… after getting the flu shot–Jenny laughs at me every year because this seems to be the norm.
When my blogger friends write about times when their lives have gotten messy, I often comment with gratitude words. “Thank you for sharing this. You make my life feel normal.” Even though I write this line often, it is heartfelt. As a husband, father to three girls, and a parent in a blended-family home, life happens greatly.
Jump-Starting Life By Starting Where Your Are
Over the years, I’ve become adept at starting from where I’m at. If life has thrown you a curve-ball this week–or three of four of them–here are a couple of strategies for jump-starting life. Just as a quick FYI, I’m writing these tips as much for myself as for those reading this post.
1. Know you are not alone.
First, When life gets messy, jump-start life by knowing you are not alone. It’s easy to ask, Why me? But it’s not only you. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” God had not singled you out. You are not alone in your trials. At times, life is hard. This is simply the way life is–for everyone.
2. Accept reality.
When life gets messy, jump-start life by accepting reality. Wishing things were different, does not solve problems. The sooner we accept reality, the sooner we can move forward. Sometimes chaotic and confusing things just happen. Other times they are the result of our own foolishness. Either way,
- Beating ourselves up…
- Wishing things were different…
- Dreaming about how things should be…
These things, all do nothing to resolve the problem. The best we can do is to accept life as it is and move forward.
3. Find the good.
When life gets messy, jumpstart life by finding the good. I have an entire chapter dedicated to finding the good in my book, Coffee Shop Inspirations, Simple Strategies for Building Dynamic Leadership and Relationships–which you can download for free, for a limited time. Despite the unexpected chaos, there is a lot of good that happened this week.
- Jenny and I teamed-up, to support each other through an incredibly eventful week. I’m continually grateful for the amazing wife that God has blessed me with!
- Jenny and I were able to accomplish much despite the added challenges. Although I didn’t get ahead, our family is caught up, which is a good place to be.
- Our week was fun. It wasn’t as fun as some weekends, but the moments we had relaxing together as a family were enjoyable.
Yes, there was extra chaos this week, but the bottom line is that life is good, and our family has much to celebrate. Finding the good is important because it’s all too easy to hone in on the negative when challenges hit. Usually, there is much worth celebrating if we choose to focus on the good.
4. Team Up with Others
When life gets messy, jump-start life by teaming up with others. This week, my friend Jon Beaty submitted a guest post. It’s an excellent piece, and I’m excited to share it with you this Thursday. His offer could not have come at a better time. Not only am I blessed with an incredible wife, but I also have some amazing friends who can help me pick up the slack during stressful periods of life.
People are God-designed to function best within a community. If you are trying to do life alone, then you’re working harder and not smarter. When life gets messy, it’s vital to have others who are ready and willing to come to our aid.
Continue the Conversation
So that was my eventful, chaotic, and messy week. As this new week begins, I’m choosing to start where I’m instead of wasting time dreaming about where I wish I was. Although this is not the ideal place to be, it is good. How about you?
- What do you do when life gets messy?
- Do you have additional strategies to jump-start life?
Perhaps your week was messy too, and you’re joining me in starting where you are at. If there is any way that I can team up with you and encourage you through the curve-balls of life, please let me know. I look forward to continuing our discussion in the comments below!