“Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
These words are attributed to many authors but we can all use them to describe our lives. Compare how many times things went according to how you anticipated versus how many times the proverbial “bump in the road” occurred. Sometimes that bump was the size of the Himalayas and you were forced to completely change direction.
Our expectations about what should be and how tightly we hold onto those expectations can truly influence our risk for episodes of depression, anxiety, and mania. Why? Because holding on to our, “life should go this way” creates stress. Holding on too tightly has been known to lay the groundwork for a nervous breakdown.
It’s like when a person holds an umbrella in order to shield him or herself in a storm. If that person holds the umbrella too tightly in one direction and a wind gust bursts at just the right angle the umbrella is turned inside out or ripped completely away. On the other hand, if that person moves with the wind unafraid to endure a small amount of raindrops from time to time the umbrella stays intact. Although, sometimes all someone can do is close the umbrella and plod on unprotected. So what? Who has ever died from a temporary bit of wind and rain?
Life is just that way. So is illness. So is God. Sometimes these things occur in a way that matches our hopes, dreams, and plans. Sometimes they don’t.
St. Francis of Assisi thought he’d build buildings and ended up on his deathbed watching those who followed him change his rule. St. Francis Xavier and Venerable Charles de Foucald failed, plain and simple. God’s way occurred later and in the latter case, after his death. Blessed Enrico Rebuschi relapsed into a bipolar episode and had to be quasi-hospitalized. Yet, a religious order still blossomed through his efforts.
So watch those expectations. Don’t let them become too unrealistic or too rigid. Life and God will happen to you sometimes as planned and sometimes not. If you are flexible you’ll probably stay healthier, perhaps in body and mind but definitely in soul.
Picture by Colin & Sarah Northway. Creative Commons, Generic License. The authors do not necessarily endorse this blog.