Straight from a Disrupted Heart
By Lisa Elliott
A card I received the year my son battled leukemia says, “Life has a way of making quick turns…without using its turn signal.” That was certainly the case that year. But it’s not the only time in my life when I was heading one way and circumstances turned me in another direction.
The first was when I was making plans to get my Early Childhood Education degree. Due to a registration fee that was a day late, I was removed from the enrollment list. Initially I was devastated! However, the Lord used that closed door to open up another that led me to Bible college. I just had to get my head around the disruption and redirect my thoughts to coincide with the direction the Lord was suddenly leading me. As it turned out, I met the love of my life, David. Interestingly, he had also been on another path when the Lord stepped in his way and changed his course. Before he knew it, he was heading to Bible college where he met me! Little did either of us know how the Lord was reorienting both of our lives into full-time pastoral ministry.
How different would my life be now if I had gone ahead with my original plan? How would your life be different? Where would you be if God hadn’t interrupted your regularly scheduled program with a news flash?
The point that I find the Lord reminding me of these days is the importance of how we approach those times in our lives when circumstances catch us off guard. How do you respond when a job is terminated, an illness strikes, a re-location is in the forecast, a tragedy takes place, or a relationship is lost? If your experience is anything like mine, a sudden shift in plan can turn a great day into doomsday in a hurry. Disruptions create anxiety, trigger depression, cause us to question, doubt, fear, and wonder if we’re on the right track at all! It’s all a matter of perspective.
If we’re following the life of Jesus, then there’s a whole new way of looking at life. The fact is Jesus’ life and ministry was full of disruptions. Think about the times when He was heading somewhere and someone stepped onto His path and re-arranged His schedule. Suddenly He was healing a hemorrhaging woman that delayed His arrival to save the life of a young boy. He had plans to spend a leisurely morning with His heavenly Father when his disciples interrupted Him; beckoning him to the waiting crowd.
Perspective is everything. We can look at the quick turns on our road of life as annoying interruptions or we can see them as Divine Disruptions. Strategic times when God puts a “holy hold” on our predetermined plans. When we can see them as a blessing rather than a curse it changes everything.
Here are a few “notes to self” that I often remind myself when these Divine Disruptions hit.
- Accept that your plan “b” was always god’s plan “a”. God’s redirection in your life is always for your good. He never takes something away to leave you empty-handed, but rather to fill you with His plan and purpose according to His good and perfect will.
Find a rhythm. The creator of the universe turned chaos into cosmos. His master design is one of order. And order necessitates rhythm. Think about it; seasons unfold in sequence: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Ecclesiastes 1:5 tells us that, “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises”. The Lord created our bodies with rhythm. Walking, talking, breathing, sleeping, blinking, and swallowing is synchronized, balanced, and rhythmic. And of course, our heart beats with a pulse.
Take your time. It takes time to get into a rhythm. Disruptions also give us cause to pause, recalibrate, re-think before we commit to something on a rebound, or out of the urge we get to impulsively make something happen before really taking time to think about it. Remember, it’s always easier to get into something than out of it.
Relax and release. In other words, trust that the Lord is in control. Then, entrust whatever it is you need to entrust to Him. What are you holding onto that you need to release into His care?
Let it happen. Don’t go searching for the next thing in a manipulative, make-it-happen kind of way. Be it a relationship, a friendship, a job search… rather, let it happen. Sometimes the thing that God wants us to pay attention to is right in front of us.
Do something! Don’t procrastinate any longer. Make a phone call. Prepare a meal. Meet a friend for coffee. Oftentimes our “to do” and even our “want to do” list is our greatest enemy. It becomes overwhelming and paralyzing. Remember, you don’t have to conquer everything in a day, but do something. I would suggest something conquerable. Something that makes you feel like you’ve at least accomplished something.
Give yourself permission. It takes time to recover from significant disruptions in our lives. You’re going to have days when you wonder if you’ll ever recover. So cut yourself some slack. Be good to yourself. Take a nap. Have an extra cup of coffee in the morning. Soak yourself in a bubble bath. Whatever it is that will help, not harm you and bring healing to your body, mind, and soul.
Know your bounds. You must listen to your body or your body will make you listen to it. Disruptions knock the socks off us. They can create all kinds of physical ailments if we allow the stress of it all get to us (ulcers, headaches, back pain, nausea)
Go for a walk. There’s nothing like the fresh out of doors to help us process things that get muddled in our minds. Take it in. Don’t rush. We miss out on a lot of things when our focus is on the disruption rather than the natural healing agent the Lord has gifted us with in His own creation. Open your senses; listen for all the sounds around you. Take close note of your surroundings. Inhale the scents. Take time to touch a leaf or pet a passing dog.
Enter in. If your disruption has led you into unfamiliar territory, don’t play the victim card. If you have to, fake it ’til you make it. Do it scared! Look confident—whether you feel it or not. Find a support group or join a community of believers you feel comfortable in. Invite yourself into someone else’s world. Most times you’ll find others feel just as much an outsider as you and often dealing with a disruption of his/her own!
Breathe! Breathe in. Breathe out. (Repeat)
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
(Prov. 16:9, NIV).
(Prov. 3:5-6, NIV).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org