Life sometimes brings us smack up against a hard circumstance that, even though we fight, pray and believe with all we’ve got, we can’t change it. What matters is how we respond and adapt.
No one inspires me more than a person who’s learned to adapt to a new life right in front of her that she never wanted. Not only has she survived; her beauty is enhanced as she’s learned to adapt and trust God.
A few months ago I met with several women from our church to organize a ladies event. There was one woman I hadn’t met. She was dressed sharply, had a big warm smile and heartily offered input to the group.
From her appearance, one could assume she’d lived a comfortable life. She had a peaceful, happy, easy-going personality.
We had a mutual interest in getting to know each other so we met at Starbucks. I probed her with questions and quickly discovered her life had been nothing like I first thought. In the last few years she’d lost her husband and daughter to bizarre sudden deaths. Their medical issues were unrelated and totally unpredictable. I could not comprehend walking in her shoes. I’d be ruminating over the what-ifs for years. How do you walk through that sort of grief? Her losses seemed unimaginably painful; and also frustrating because the root causes were so rare.
Can you guess where our conversation took us after those sad revelations? The grace and goodness of God! She spent most of our chat describing to me how God had worked out so many tiny details at the time her loved ones passed away. She and her husband had a wonderful trip together that they almost didn’t take. Her daughter happened to be with her kind co-workers when she passed suddenly. My friend also explained that she’d had a long, important conversation with her husband during a time when she typically wouldn’t have been home.
As we drank our coffee it was almost as if I could not have made her sad if I’d tried. I felt the heaviness of what she’d walked through and she recounted how good God has been to her.
We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love him and accept his invitation to live according to his plan. Romans 8:28
My new friend adapted to circumstances she couldn’t change and realized that death is a part of life. In her grief, she continually chose to look towards God rather than turn away from him.
I thought of the times I was called to adapt. My first marriage ended many years ago, even after I fought like crazy to save it. I had to adapt to the life of a single mom and sole provider for my family.
adapt: to make fit (as for a new use) often by modification; adapt to a new environment, acclimate, adjust, conform.
One time I walked into a store with five kids hanging from the grocery cart like little monkeys. I still wore my wedding band and continued to for a long time after I was divorced. As I walked into the store, I touched it to make sure it was in place. I felt such shame as a unmarried woman with all those kids—my two and others in my care. My friends had graciously hired me to care for their own children; to help my financial situation more than to meet their own needs.
Another time I adapted was when I learned that my two-year-old daughter had profound cognitive deficits. I became a researcher, caregiver and strenuous prayer warrior. For over thirty years I still fulfill those roles.
A couple of years ago, I dug my heels in when we had to leave our beloved home behind, even while knowing it was God’s plan. I reluctantly adapted to life away from what we knew and loved. It was very hard.
I grieve for my friends who’ve lost husbands. And surely nothing is more heart wrenching than losing a child. At times I feel overwhelmed and fearful of the losses that may be ahead for me.
We know that difficulties and death are inevitable.
In this world you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. John16:33
Opportunities to adapt are plentiful. As we acclimate to our new normal and surrender to God with all our hearts, He will do amazing things in our lives that are more than we can imagine. It’s hard to faithfully put one foot in front of the other, but we can do it! We have the Body of Christ to cheer us on and help. God will never leave us or forsake us. What if our painful experiences cause our empathy and love for others to grow? What if the most fulfilling part of our lives comes after our hardest trials?
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. Helen Keller