I’ve heard it said before that the only thing guaranteed in life is change. Sounds about right. Do you remember Monday, September 15, 2008? It was on that day, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. The Dow dropped 504.48 points. The rest of that week signaled the beginning of the end of a relatively long run of economic prosperity. When that happened, what changes did you have to make? What other significant events, either socially or personally, have come crashing down on your plans and completely rocked your world?
I can remember several epochs in life that have left me scratching my head wondering, about how we survived certain interruptions in the normal flow of life. Nothing comes close to an event that happened to the Lanier family in 2012. My wife, Stacey had been healing from a fall in which she broke one ankle and severely sprained another. We had been staying at her parent’s house as she recovered, and every day I would wake my daughter up at 6 am, we would leave the house by 6:30 and I would drive the hour-long commute into work. She would sit sleepily in my office and do her homework until about 8:45 when I would then take her 6 minutes down the road to her school. We would repeat this exercise every day of the week, and though it was a little taxing, we learned to adjust.
It was three weeks into this process that Stacey was finally getting well enough to come home. The doctors had fitted her with a boot, so she was able to walk without the use of a walker. Our final test was to see how she did driving. We went riding around her parent’s neighborhood for about 20 minutes, and she did great. This was the success we were hoping for. With the ability to drive without discomfort came the assurance that Stacey could take our oldest daughter to school in the mornings, and most importantly, our family could return home together. We sat in the driveway and talked about the grace we had experienced despite the trying circumstances, and were thankful that it was coming to an end. Little did either of us know what the next 10 minutes would bring.
I was upstairs packing when I heard my father-in-law yelling for his wife, saying, “something’s wrong with Stacey!” I rushed to the couch to see my lovely wife disoriented and stuttering, unable to articulate but repeatedly saying, “I… I jus.. jus.. can’t talk.” She was having a stroke. The paramedics were called, prayers sent up, and while rubbing her head and looking at her eyes, I simply tried to comfort her and tell her it would be okay. After several minutes, she finally came back. By the time the paramedics arrived, she was regaining her ability to talk, but it was clear something was not right. The next year would be littered with multiple hospitalizations and frightening moments in public places as her mild stroke left her with constant migraines that sometimes took on the appearance of another stroke. She was recovering; it just took a lot of time, and we racked up some hefty bills. My daughter and I had to extend our commuting to my in-laws for several more weeks.
So the future planning began. You ever do that exercise where someone tells you to reach your hands up as high as you can, then after a few seconds tell you to raise them higher? The result is always a mild rebuke, “you were asked to raise your hands as high as you could the first time, but you were obviously holding out.” That’s what those several months felt like at work. I was working as hard as I could, so I thought. But it wasn’t until the circumstances got more challenging that I reached up even higher to fulfill my duties. I worked on my efficiency and communication; I got projects done well in advance, I wrote out all of my procedures step by step in the event that I would not be in the building on a given day of the week. I built a communication system with my colleagues for live chat, and I wrote out lesson plans weeks in advance. I was not only adapting to the change that had happened, but I was also planning for change in the future. I was reaching higher because the circumstances demanded it. I was adapting because my wife and family and employer all needed me to.
My lovely wife is fully recovered today, and all is well. The lessons learned from those hard circumstances in 2012 have helped me not only to be more flexible, but future-oriented.
Questions: Can you remember the last time an event shook your world and forced significant changes in your daily routines? How can change, even through a saddening event, serve us best?
Challenge: Take fifteen minutes a day to plan your day, and as a result, design your future. Yet, leave room for God’s purposes to prevail over yours and be prepared for change. Stretch yourself and give your all in your relationships and work.
“20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
“13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Author: Originally from Southern California, “Sociologist turned Technologist,” Dee Lanier is a passionate and energetic educator and learner with over a decade of instructional experience on the K-12 and collegiate level.