Within the last month two extremely tragic accidents happened very close to my home. These accidents resulted in the death of three fathers. Three fathers that were taken away in an instant. I personally didn’t know the families, but friends of mine did. It goes without saying that these families are completely devastated. Without warning, without goodbyes, their loved ones are gone. Each father leaving behind at least one child.
My heart has been aching for these families and I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind. This isn’t the first time I have heard of tragic accidents, but something happened when I become a parent. Incidents hit me differently and tug at my heart in a new way. The one thing that I kept coming back to is that nothing is ever guaranteed in this life of ours. The only certainty in this life is that it changes…sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.
The change may happen in an instant as it did to these three families, or it can be a slow change that you see coming. It seems to me that people usually can cope better when they see the change coming. As humans, I think we like the idea that we get to process change when we see it coming and in some ways I think it gives us a false sense of control.
I want to emphasize the false sense of control, because that’s really what it is. The one thing that I’ve learned over my lifetime is that I can’t control change for the good or bad. Our Lord is in control. The only thing I can control is how I respond to life’s changes.
One of the hardest changes that I’ve ever gone through is welcoming our first child into this world. I’ve shared Owen’s birth story before and the bottom line is that I had no control over anything. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to write the story of how I welcomed our first child into this world. I wanted it to be like all of the wonderful, celebratory photos I’ve seen on Facebook. But, it wasn’t.
Neither was Owen’s first year. I had in my head that it was going to be perfect, without heartache, without pain, without sickness, but I can tell you that it was the hardest year of my life and this was from a positive change. I share this, because change good or bad can be hard. I had plenty of time to process the idea of having my first child – about nine months, but nothing could have prepared me for the huge change that my body, my life, and all of my relationships would go through.
This beautiful, amazing change took me down. It brought me to my knees. I felt that I lost everything, but most of all I felt that I lost myself.
This change landed me in years of therapy. It made me confront things that I had been running from since the day Owen was born, or even before. I resented the fact that I was faced with all of these challenges, but it didn’t seem like anyone else was – at least that’s not what their highlight reel showed. So, after doing the “work.” after digging deep, after the tears, the shame, and the resentment, you know where I ended up…in acceptance.
One simple word now summarizes how I try to handle all change, anything in life that’s hard, or that I don’t understand. Simple acceptance. I’ve learned if I don’t try to control it, or “fix it” and I’m able to accept it I can move on. Because the other thing that I have learned throughout this lifetime is that regardless whatever it is that has happened, more change is coming.
Acceptance does not mean that you agree, condone, appreciate, or even like what has happened. Acceptance means that you know, regardless of what happened, that there is something bigger than you at work. It also means that you are okay and that you will continue to be OK. – Iyanla Vanzant
Friends, I share these thoughts tonight for many reasons. One, I ask that you pray for these families who have lost their loved ones. Prayers that they may be able to find some peace and comfort even with the pain that they are feeling. Two, I ask you to think about your life right now, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be thankful for all of the good, express the gratitude, share and show your love, because you don’t know what change will be coming. And for all of the bad, know that “this too shall pass.” Lastly, I share the idea of acceptance. I wish I would have found that concept much earlier in life. I think I would have been able to spare myself a lot of heartache and stress, so I hope I’m able to inspire some of you tonight.
Squeeze your loved ones a little tighter.
Blessings to you and yours,
Three things I’m grateful for:
- Owen, for making me a mother and making me the person that I am today.
- August, for loving me unconditionally.
- Grace – we all need some.