Last week, I wrote to you about that magical moment when you realize you are living your dream (whether it’s something big or it’s contained within an ordinary moment of peace, joy and sense of purpose).
It’s exhilarating and encouraging. It’s reassuring of Grace and Divine Love that assists us on our paths.
But what do we do when things don’t go the way we imagined them? When the picture you dreamed about a million times doesn’t happen?
Four years ago, I was sitting in the bleachers at the Homecoming Football game where the senior band members were presented to the community. It was a beautiful way to thank them for their four years of hard work. Each student was called by their name, joined by their parents (whose names were also announced). And right there, in the middle of the field, as the whole community clapped and cheered for them and pictures were taken.
I was so moved then…and excitedly imaged Matthew and me meeting our son Evan in the center of the field and proudly hugging him before we would have walked down to have our picture taken. I even knew what I was going to wear.
But things didn’t turn out that way. Matthew passed away… and now, I won’t be there either! 🙁
Last week, when I found out the presentation was in the middle of my tour, my heart broke. I had tried really hard to schedule this tour around the kids’ important dates, but I had to give our available dates to the booking agency a year in advance – long before school and band calendars were confirmed.
So, the moment I envisioned, and for which I believed God (and the Universe) would surely help me make happen, is not going to happen. Ever. There will be other events at which I’ll accompany Evan, but not the senior band presentation.
Sometimes a lot of what we envision – and wish for – doesn’t happen. And there is nothing we can do about it. (There are no Red Ruby Slippers that can make magic here.)
Sometimes we just have to accept it and get through the pain of disappointment.
Like last year, when Blais made plans to go trick-or-treating with his friend (and got an epic costume) but the friend changed his mind and instead wanted to stay in and play video games, leaving Blais awkwardly being the only boy who dressed up. Blais came home and said: “I’ll never be 13 again and experience Halloween like a kid.” I tried to come up with something like: “You can still do it. It will be different but you can still dress up and go trick-or-treating.”
He looked at me and said: “You can’t make this one better mama. It is what it is. I just need to be sad about it.”
And he was right. When moments we envision don’t go the way we planned, all we can do is let ourselves feel the pain and move through it. Even moments that are a lot more serious than senior presentations or failed plans. Moments like losing a loved one… when we know we’ll never have the Christmases we imagined with them, no matter how hard we want it or pray about it.
So, why do some moments happen and some don’t? And how do we have courage to dream up anything and not be afraid of disappointment and heartbreak?
The only answer I’ve found is to have the right balance of courage, faith and willingness to surrender.
Courage to keep dreaming and envisioning those ‘perfect moments’.
Faith to keep believing no matter how many times we get disappointed or crushed.
And a willingness surrender to the idea that pain is a part of life.
This is how we can accept the sadness and heartache that comes with living wholeheartedly.
It also helps to be aware of the Grace that fills every moment of our lives – both the magical ones and the hard ones (and that’s a part of surrender too).
I can’t walk with my son at his presentation (and I’m going to be sad about it, because sadness is a beautiful human emotion that reminds us how much we care about something). I can’t change the fact that his Dad won’t be there either.
But my Mama is going to walk with him – and that moment just might be the magical moment she has always dreamed about (and didn’t get with my sister or me).
And I could feel bad for Evan standing there on that field next to his friends (with their ‘perfect’ families) and feel sorry for him and me. Or I can be proud of him and of us for getting through the hard stuff and not quitting – because he could have quit band and not been presented today… and I could have said ‘no’ to my tour.
We both chose to keep going and keep believing. Evan knows that I’d give everything to be there but that I also have to work. He knows that I chose work that pays our bills but also uplifts many, many people. He feels the love and support from his band family, my mom and David – and will always know what it means to have a community that shows up for you.
In closing, I want to mention that I don’t see this as “God’s will.” That would mean that something bad has to happen in order for something else good to become real. And also it absolutely makes no sense that “God’s will” would be so drastically different for people – some enjoy long happy lives and some die young.
I see it more of “God’s flow” – as in God’s grace and Divine love that flows through all moments – mystically and beautifully intertwining joy and sadness, lightness of being and the ache that comes with living courageously and wholeheartedly.
I hope this is helpful to you. There are several people on my newsletter list who have shared with me how their ‘lives didn’t turn out the way they wanted them to be.’
It’s ok to be sad about it. Go ahead and cry and grieve… but don’t let it keep you stuck in sadness, disappointment or resentment. Don’t let it prevent you from experiencing hope and happiness.
For as long as you breathe, there is a way you can feel exactly how you want to feel.
Lean on those who love on you or reach out to them courageously (they might not even know you need them) and allow them be your ‘God in skin’ – or your Red Ruby Slippers 🙂