I want routine. I like having a life plan and sticking to it as much as possible. Things just seem to flow much smoother when there is direction. On occasion, God has other plans. Every once in a while, He likes to throw me a curve ball and teach me something new.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it; to be in the middle of a well-run morning of learning, only to be stopped by sudden chaos? Sometimes we don’t even have the opportunity of getting our day started; from the moment our eyes open, the day is already off course.
How do we deal with life’s wicked curve balls and stay focused on what’s important? How do we choose whether the detour warrants our attention or if this is a distraction to be swept aside?
Prayer – Before we do anything, we need to stop and pray! If we try tackling difficulties completely on our own, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Take a quick moment to pray, breathe, and ask for wisdom in dealing with the situation.
Evaluation – When side swiped by one of life’s problems, the next logical step would be to critique the issue. Is this something which really warrants my time or can this wait? This begs the question, though. What does warrant my time?
- Character Training – If my kiddos are getting out of hand or being rebellious, lessons need to take a backseat. Discipleship and training need to be dealt with before my children are ready to learn.
- Family Concerns – I do not answer our phone while we are schooling. I find this distracts my kids and throws me off track. I do look at who is calling though. The only people I answer for are immediate family. (Mostly, because I know they would only be calling at this time if it was important. They know we do most of our learning in the morning.) If they call and it’s urgent, everything else stops and we meet our family’s needs.
- Better Lessons – Sometimes life’s curve balls have valuable lessons for our kids to learn by. If they would gain more from being ‘side tracked’ than by doing our original lesson, so be it!
- Limited Opportunities – Every once in a while, we will get a call from a friend or family member who has an amazing opportunity to share with us, but it has to be taken advantage of right now. (Disney on Ice for free!!) When these special events pop up, we jump at the chance to participate.
- Emergencies – This goes without saying, but, if emergencies arise, all else stops. This doesn’t happen very often, thank the Lord, but on occasion it does.
We also need to evaluate whether this is really an issue or an attack! On occasion, curve balls aren’t lessons in hiding, but a battle which needs to be fought to stay on track. Are we going to allow ourselves to be derailed and a day lost? We need to be able to identify between a genuine concern, an opportunity, and a distraction from what’s important.
Movement – After assessing the circumstances and determining our plan of attack, the next step is easy: move! We need to avoid wallowing in despair over lessons left undone. Don’t allow irritation, frustration, and anxiety to take over. All of these things distract from the new lessons to be learned and us pursuing our new goal. Instead of focusing on what wasn’t, focus on what needs to happen.
Recovery – Okay, so we’ve handled the curve ball. We made it through our detour and have to pick up the pieces we left behind. Now, there are choices to be made.
- Forget It – Is the lesson you left behind really worth worrying about? Will it matter if you don’t do it? Some lessons and activities can be abandoned; decide if this is one and let it go.
- Do It – While I am perfectly okay with letting things like coloring go to the wayside, abandoned; there are a few which cannot be avoided. If we had to skip something I knew was important to my kids or vital to the lesson, we reschedule it for later in the week or at the most convenient time.
- Reduce It – Sometimes I compromise. There may be portions of a lesson I really need my children to cover, but other portions which I could easily gloss over. If it comes down to it, what I will do is reduce the amount we go back and cover. (e.g. Instead of giving my children the entire math lesson they missed, I might only have them do the work which is new to them; skipping the review sections.)
God likes to keep us on our toes, doesn’t He? He likes to give us plenty of opportunity to practice our patience, to use wisdom, and to model this for our children. When life throws us a curve ball, we need to find the exact spot to focus our strength and then attack with all our might.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
~ Romans 8:28
Your Turn!: How do you deal with life’s little detours?