The Circles…

Life is about understanding we’ve all got a reason for being here and we all also have the power within us to navigate our own way.  It’s about finding a balance.

My older brother and I had a conversation during our Christmas visit that has had me thinking and so I wanted to get this out.

I’ve always believed that God has our lives planned out before we were even born.  He has a plan for each of us and whatever I’m going through or whatever circumstance I find myself in, I’ve always felt He has me exactly where he wants me to be.  

My brother feels that our lives are about free will.  That God did not plan our lives but gave us free will to create our circumstances and make our own choices about our lives.

Initially I disagreed with him, and him with me, but then later on I begin to think about our difference in opinion and wondered to myself why it can’t be a bit of both?   God could have our lives planned out for us giving us situations we can’t control – they just are what they are so learn to roll with it.  He also has given us free will make things happen, to feel emotions, have reactions and behaviors therein giving us control. 

The truth is there are life moments, good or bad, that we can and can not control. 

Some examples of what I mean:

 I can go to work everyday, bring home a fat paycheck, and be able to take my daughter out on a special Mom/Daughter date night.  I had control over that.  I got up, went to work, made the money, took her out.  All me. 

I could take the gamble, go buy a lottery ticket and actually win a million dollars depsite the odds.  All God.  (I realize gambling is not condoned in most religious circles but I see nothing wrong with it).

I could get up in the morning, hit my ankle on the corner of my bedframe, rip open my flesh, bleed profusely (done this more than once).  I can control that because I know the metal part of my bedframe sticks out but I tend to rush around and forget about it.  All me. 

I could get into a fender bender because the person behind me was following too close.  All God.

As I write this it seems to become clearer to me that my brother and I are both right.  It can be both.  What is important, at least for me, is to learn to recognize what can and can not be controlled.  

For the purpose of this blog, I want to focus on the negative simply because I struggle with it and I need more balance in this area of my life.  To be honest with all of you, I can get so bogged down with negativity that I will completely shut myself down.  It needs to stop.  There is this feeling I have that this year is going to be a really great year for me and for people I care about and despite that, there will be obstacles (no doubt) but it will be unacceptable for me to shut down again.  I must face those obstacles head on and decide what to do about them.  So let me share a method I learned years ago and need to get back into the habit of doing.

When working at GSU, I saw a therapist who taught me a trick that will now become a regular part of my life…again.  When I’m feeling bogged down by stress and I’m close to the breaking point, I take a moment to sit quietly and think it all through.  This can be a writing exercise or a mental one.  Whatever works best for you.  For me, thinking it through helps the most.  In my head I imagine 3 circles:  Things I Can Control, Things I Can Not Control, Things I Can Influence but Not Control.  I then take each stressor and place it in the appropriate circle.  Those things you have placed in the Can Not Control category?  LET THEM GO.  Immediately, just let them go.  There is nothing you can do about them and you are wasting energy on them.  If you can influence something then decide how you can best do that, carry out that plan, then let those things go.  You’ve done what you could do so it’s time to move on from them.  The things you can control – that is where you use your energy. 

So give it a try and see what happens.  See if it helps you find a balance, remove some stress. 

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4 thoughts on “The Circles…

  1. I believe all our days are preordained before we ever come to be… in that God knows exactly what will happen in our lives but I also believe that He gives us free will to make our own decisions. There’s one more level… all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. The fender bender is not really all God, it’s free will of the person behind you and it is an opportunity for you to exercise free will as well, in the response you give. You can bless or curse the other person. You never know what opportunity for influence you may have in the midst of someone else’s exercise of their free will. It’s a tapestry, beautifully sewn where our lives all intercede and collide… the underside may be a jumbled mess – that’s the part we see – the tapestry itself, viewed by God is exactly what He meant for us.

  2. I like what you said about being a blessing to another person and that, in addition to my own mess, is another thing I want and NEED to work on. There are moments when we encounter a grumpy cashier or just an unpleasant person and it bodes well for all of us if we remember to not take that personally, take a deep breath and react in kind and with joy in our hearts. It matters. I’ve seen it make a difference many times. It makes them feel better and it makes us feel better, as well. About the fender bender…my thought there was yes, it is absolutely in control of the other person how they choose to drive but since I have no control over how that person drives, possibly God could put me in that particular situation for a reason. If he needed me to experience the fender bender then that’d be something I have no control over. But I do see your point.

  3. I love to write. I have literally thousands of papers and hundreds of notebooks from over the years filled of writings some are nothing but curse words but hey it works for me….It is much better than doing something stupid and sending myself to jail

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