Last week, a dear friend encountered a monumental life pause when she found her husband on the floor, unresponsive. Three days later, she released him to heaven.
We all experience times when life takes a sudden twist that slams us into a “road closed” sign and halts forward motion. Although perhaps not as unexpected and traumatic as my friend’s, life pauses come and our response to them determines how well we cope.
Following are insights on responding to life pauses:
No matter what type, life pauses involve loss, and loss precipitates emotion. Sometimes we’re unprepared for when, and how, those emotions manifest, and their forcefulness. Loss is not just tied to death. The loss of a job, a lifestyle, a friendship, or health are also examples.
So, what are the emotions inherent in life pauses? When your life suddenly changes, but the lives of others don’t, you may be surprised to discover intense anger, impatience, fear, anxiety, even jealousy, along with sadness and grief. Experience all the emotions that come, but don’t get mired in them to the point you fail to see positive aspects of your situation.
Look for Positives
How can there be anything positive about a major life pause? Although the loss my friend and her family are dealing with is anything but positive, they experienced the joy of their son’s wedding the weekend before. The love this family shares is evident in photos taken at that wedding and at other family events this year, and in the past. Although loss is great, and they must walk through grief, all is not negative.
Life pauses disrupt the normal rhythms of life, and therefore, we view them negatively. But there is always something positive you can discover in any difficult season of life.
Watch Out for Withdrawal
My husband and I have experienced many life pauses in our almost 41 years of marriage, and I have noticed a tendency to withdraw, to cut ourselves off from others during those times.
That separation of self from others is like an injured animal slinking away to lick his wounds undisturbed. We crave distance from those who probe for more information that they have no need to know, or we may experience some level of embarrassment or confusion. Certainly, privacy is warranted, but be mindful of the fact that others are willing to encourage and support during life pauses, and don’t distance yourself from help.
Prepare for Forward Motion
In some ways, it seems counterintuitive to think about moving forward while life is on pause, but just because life comes to a halt in one area doesn’t mean you can’t move ahead in others.
Life pauses can be times of mental, spiritual, and emotional growth, if we are willing to do the self-assessment and hard work that precipitates that growth. Life pauses provide time for rest, renewal, learning, and change. The process of preparing for forward motion after a life pause is unique to each of us.
Each season of life has a purpose. How we respond to a time when life is on hold is up to us. We can choose to trust God’s timing or fight it. We can waste a life pause, or benefit from it. We can experience all the emotions involved in loss and still find joy.
“For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 VOICE).
The process of preparing for forward motion after a life pause is unique to each of us.
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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