Where do you start when you’ve had one curveball after another in life? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has made big messes and has tried to dodge curveballs. Right? So the question becomes how do you handle life’s curveballs? What do you do to dig out from under the rubble when your life is in pieces yet another time?
Sudden Life Changes
I know a little about these things. You see I figured that I had my college degrees, had all the work that I needed, could pay my bills and that I could always get a job with my skills. So I went on my merry way in life doing life as I wished.
However, one day my life changed. Curveballs that I had watched come after other people started coming at me one after another. Things started happening that I couldn’t figure out how to solve, didn’t know what to do, or how to get the help I needed. People I thought I could count on were not helpful. I felt alone and scared and even for a short time considered ending my life. That was the only way out in my thinking, but that was very wrong thinking. Fortunately and obviously, that didn’t happen. I was exhausted from the stress and often cried myself to sleep only to awaken to another day of trying to figure out life and get a grip on things. Sure there were other times when situations made me think about ending my life, but thankfully, there was divine intervention those times as well. Ultimately, I was distracted and never acted on the wrong thinking of ending my life.
Help from Others
Sometimes we think that we can count on other people whether family or friends, but we find out that may not be true. We ultimately realize that it’s up to us to ask questions, get advice, figure things out and move forward with what we have peace about doing. Other people can support us in specific ways but we are the ones who must make the winding, and often treacherous path through life’s curveballs.
When in my mid-thirties, healthy and strong and going to grad school, I suddenly became very, very sick with what I thought was the flu, but it wasn’t going away. I was very weak and bedfast for many weeks with severe flu-like symptoms. The doctor finally diagnosed the symptoms as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. Once the doctors gave me heavy-duty antibiotics for a suspected tick bite that had left no red bull’s eye common to those bites, my health started improving. Although the tick that bit me was never found, its bite nearly eliminated me! Ticks are small but pack powerful punches to our immune systems. Full recovery of my strength and immune health from that bite took about a year. So I know the damage a sudden, severe life-changing illness can do to leave you feeling defenseless when you can’t make it stop. It’s even worse when the doctors can’t figure out how to help. Maybe you have had a similar experience or you know someone who has.
After my recovery and completion of grad school, I was zipping through life putting to use what I had learned in college when along came another major curveball, an auto accident. It was my first concussion as an adult. Again, I was young and in my thirties. I was hit from behind at a stop sign by another car while I was waiting for a vehicle to clear the intersection. It took a lot of physical therapy and about 9 months to fully recover from the head and neck injuries.
Several years later, a second concussion occurred. Again, I was hit from behind while stopped at a traffic light. Similarly, that took a lot of physical therapy and at least 6 months to recover and feel well enough to get back to all normal exercise and activities in life again.
Fast forward about ten years after that, along came concussion #3 when I was hit from behind while stopped at a traffic light and again minding my own business. Since concussions can have a cumulative effect, the recovery process can also increase with each head injury. That concussion took approximately a year before I could get back to all normal activities and the variety of workouts that I had previously enjoyed. Concussions are nothing to joke about and they are certainly not to be taken lightly because the control tower of your body is involved—your brain.
These are just some examples from my life. Trust me, there have been far more curveballs than I can count. Sometimes people seem to skate along in life without ever having major curveballs to deal with. Others seem to get through one life-changing experience when another one shows up. In which category have you found yourself?
Insights on Handling Curve Balls
So you see, I do speak from my curveball handling experiences. When the curve balls hit, it takes a minute to get past the dazed, numb feeling of shock and of what just happened here so we can start to think about things and figure out how to move forward.
1. Depending on the curveball, there may be times when we need tangible help with food, clothing, housing, transportation, childcare, eldercare, work, or healthcare challenges. It’s okay to be vulnerable and to ask for help. Most communities have churches and social service organizations that have a variety of services available to people in need. Each one may have specific services they offer but they typically know who else might be able to assist with a particular need.
At times, we might find it very helpful to talk with a licensed professional counselor or a minister to better resolve things or to get insight and closure so we can process the current curveball from a more objective vantage point.
2. We want to get going with our lives again, but this kind of process may take time depending on what whacked us on the head or blindsided us. So we have to be kind to ourselves during the healing process. There is no rushing this but we don’t want to get stuck, become discouraged, hopeless, or give up either. It takes having a good support system of friends who will walk with us on this journey but not prod us to hurry up and go forward.
3) During this process, we might find that we need to make changes in our thinking, attitudes, behaviors, or actions so we can move forward and get better results in the future. To do that, we might first have to look at where we have been, where we presently are, and where we want to go, or maybe where it is that we need to go next.
With lots of practice handling curveballs, I can say that I have always been grateful for the friends who have walked with me. Sometimes they told me things I didn’t want to hear but I knew that they were right. True friends are often there for the long haul with us. And that’s a blessing!
Also, there is power in prayer. When we have praying friends and parents, that is a big help. I don’t think I would have made it this far if I hadn’t had both of those—praying parents, siblings, and friends. Of course, I can’t rely on others to pray for me. I also must be praying. That’s a powerful tool.
Ultimately, for long-term help with curveballs, the only person I know to turn to who can do the impossible and truly help me day or night is Jesus. Yep, you heard me right. Maybe you are the way I used to be. At one point in my life, I thought that I didn’t need Jesus. After all, what good could He possibly do for me? I couldn’t see Him and I had only heard about Him. So how could He possibly change my circumstances? Those were some thoughts going through my mind at the time. But like I said, He was the only One Who has infinite wisdom and power and Who created me and knows everything I need. Since He wants to help me, it doesn’t make sense to push Him away. You can read more here about the simple way to have Jesus’ long-term help for the rest of your life.
None of us can escape curveballs. Expect them. Learn to grow through them. Life’s journey holds many good things but there are also those challenging sudden changes with curveballs we didn’t anticipate. Seek the help you need from friends, your church, and your community. But mainly, be sure to ask God for His help because He can help you with everything no matter how big or small, whether it’s food, clothing, gasoline, rent, a job, mortgage payment, childcare, or healthcare.
Here’s to tackling those future curve balls better than ever!
Your Rebuilding Lives Coach,