jump-starting life

Jump-Start Life: What to Do, When Life Gets Messy

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!

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

10 thoughts on “Jump-Start Life: What to Do, When Life Gets Messy”

  1. OK, this is getting downright uncanny now. My comment from three posts ago was what your last post was about. Then in commenting on your last post, I come here to find that you’ve mentioned the book and the very advice I highlighted in the last comment. Hmmm….

    Having just had a whirlwind move, involving 60+ hours of hard work – packing, lifting, walking down 15 stairs with heavy things, putting stuff in the car at weird angles, pulling them out at weird angles, going up 15 stairs into the new place, unpacking … repeat, repeat, repeat – there were many times I hit the wall, so to speak. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I did all but three hours of it myself. And no matter how much I did, no matter how much the muscles strained and the bruises continued to appear, I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Many times, I could feel the emotions welling up inside, tempting me to negativity. And each time, I reached for my own advice:

    “You always have a choice.” (I could have gone into debt to hire a moving company; I could have “bothered” more people to help me during the week, etc.)

    “You have to start where you are, not where you wish you were.” (I said this with every box I loaded, moved or unloaded toward the end of the last 16-hour day.)

    “Life is not fair. The sooner you accept this, the happier you will be.” (I could choose to be upset that my previous landlords decided to sell after my having been there only a year; or I could say, “Hey, things happen! How are you going to solve this?” I could be miserable or positive and active; either way, I’d still have needed to move.)

    “Become adept at finding the silver lining.” (I had found a great new place to live! The landlord had given me the key 10 days early, allowing me to move things in without paying for a week and a half without having to pay for those days, not even the electricity I was using in the new place. Though grueling, I have the physical strength and good health to have managed a move like this mostly alone, saving a lot of money. I have friends who made themselves available with trucks, hands and time for the big furniture I couldn’t have done alone. A friend paid to have my piano moved for me! The “silver linings” go on and on!)

    As you’ve pointed out here, Jed, I, too, really do write as much for myself as anyone else!

    1. Hey Erik,

      Great minds think alike! I’m loving your book. I’m embarrassed to say I’m reading though it much slower than I planned–due to my own business, and many unexpected changes over the past few months. I intended post a full review on my site and Amazon, much sooner (But they are on their way). You’ve got so many great lines in there, which is my other excuse for moving slowly. I often find myself getting caught-up in thought as I move though it. It’s more like I’m taking time to live through the book than to simply read it. I can’t say this about many books, so it is a huge tribute to you, and the effort and wisdom that you put into this project.

      I’m glad to hear the move was a success. I only wish I could have been more help. Cheering you on from a distance, via twitter, does very little to get that furniture up and down the stairs. It’s great to hear that your in, and had many silver linings along the way!

      I’m wondering if bloggers, who write for themselves as well as for others, don’t have an advantage over other writers? You and I are not suggesting theories, or advice that looks good on paper, but isn’t practical in real life. Instead, we know these tools work, because we live them every day.

      1. Absolutely no need for embarrassment with the pace of reading the book. You’re reading it exactly as it is intended to be read: carefully, thoughtfully and with a mind toward personal application.

        Those “words from afar” do more than you know!

        And I’m with you, that we have an advantage in blogging. Another upside is that, when you’re living stuff, you’re rarely short of material to write about.

  2. This is so true, even for children and teaching. When I was a young teacher, I wanted to remake students (in a positive way). As I grew up, I realized what kids wanted was to experience the fullness of their potential–their dreams, not mine. It starts with meeting them where they are.

    Keep up the good advice!

  3. Excellent advice. I’d thank you for making my life feel normal, but its been a messy week here too. The kangaroo rat story was comical, the sink story not so much! Wishing you a positive and less messy balance of the week. 🙂

  4. What I’m learning is that the unexpected, unwanted messes that interrupt my plans are often God trying to strengthen some aspect of my character. When I accept that, I’m less stressed and my mood is better.

    1. Thanks Jon,

      Great advice and very well said! Accepting that life’s messes are all part of God’s plan, really does make things less stressful. This is not something that I excel at doing yet, but I am working on it : )

  5. Such an uplifting post, Jed! I love that things at your house get messy too. Laughed so hard over the “mouse” catch and release story! But I love your thoughts on jump-starting life when things get messy, especially accepting reality-you can’t move forward “wishing” things were different. And “finding the good”, amen, that helps us realize things are not as bad as they seem! Thank you!

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