The effort to maintain a steady balance between work, life, and faith is a fragile thing. Unexpected events can really tilt the sense of balance you might think you have.
Here’s an example. I am sitting in my beautiful, custom designed home office, watching a gorgeous sunny day. I am talking to a client on the phone, wrapping up some details on the next phase of their project. My wife is in the back of the house entertaining two of our precious grand kids. Balance is achieved! Life is good.
Then it happens. My wife begins yelling “Doug! Doug! Doug!”. The grand kids enter into the yelling. I have to quickly (but professionally) hang up on my client. I jump out of my chair and run to the back.
Then I see what all the upset is about. Brown, muddy water is pouring across my patio into my pool. Sadly this has happened once before, so I know what it is.
The utility district where I live has crews that routinely check all aspects of our neighborhood water system. There is this pipe that runs the length of my eastern property line. I am told it’s a “non-essential line”. But occasionally some technician turns a valve and the pipe springs to life.
There is one catch. It is a broken pipe that the authorities have never chosen to fix. When water under pressure is applied, it gushes up through the ground onto my property, flooding anything and everything in its path.
As I watch in stunned silence, a trash can floats by. The whole patio deck is slowly being submerged. The pool has already lost its pristine sparkle and muddy brown muck replaces the deep blue. Soon the water is seeping into the whole length of my house. Carpets are goners. Let the real fun begin.
I share all this not to muster your sympathy, as I know plenty of homeowners who have endured far worse. Writing about this event proves one point. Your best laid plans can change instantly.
CHANGE can be INSTANT
This week was going to be big. I had so many great things on the calendar. There were new business prospects to meet, a new networking and referral group to attend, some personal things I had been putting off were finally on the radar, so on and so on. It was going to be great. I was feeling like a Titan until the water gently began to flow. It was flowing in places water was not supposed to be going.
Clearly my schedule and list was torpedoed. In a mere 30 minutes, my next several weeks were altered. Never to be seen again was the plan I had.
For some of you, an event like this would be a total disaster. The fear, panic, and dread that comes with the incident might cripple your ability to take the next step. Watching the murky water seep into your beautiful home would be more than you can bear. Frustration and anger would fill your senses.
Others of you may take the change of direction in stride. Yes, you would get upset at first, but then a kind of calm and resilience would kick in. You would formulate a plan. The action prescribed by the plan would be your new course and you would forge ahead.
You Get to Choose
Which mindset would you rather be? Is it clear to you that the first frame of mind is pretty futile? I don’t mean to be insensitive, but really?
You need to be able to deal with the consequences. Something has to happen to avoid total ruin of your home, its furnishings, and your belongings. Being able to think more clearly is critical so you can process the information that will also be flooding in.
Not to brag, I have to admit my first reaction was not all that solid. It took me a few phone calls to get my grip on the situation and make myself become more determined to manage the situation.
The next day was far more clear. While speaking to insurance adjusters, the utility folks, and the service providers cleaning the mess, I began to restore a sense of balance.
I said finding and maintaining balance between work, life and faith can be a delicate situation. Unforeseen circumstances will happen. Being able to sift gears, respond to the change of course, and keep some level of your sanity is what I believe balance is all about.
So here’s how this incident breaks down for me and how balance will return.
1. My work will require some schedule changes. Clients will need clear communication to reset project delivery expectations. I cannot let the changes take away my own sense of balance.
I will have a new set of outside parties with whom to deal (the insurance people, claims process, vendors, etc.) I have to accept the changes to my schedule. The timing for accomplishing various goals will need to be adjusted.
2. My personal life will need to also be reset a bit. My wife will need a little more tenderness and consolation as we manage through the mess in her beautiful house. Her nest has been violated. She needs reassurance and patience. Her emotions cannot become my emotions, yet I have to be able to be empathetic and responsive.
My kids and grand kids will have routines and schedules upset a bit too. We are a close family so we have many things we do together with the house being the center of much of it. That will have to change for a few weeks, perhaps months.
Those personal things I had on the horizon will need to get pushed out a bit too.
3. Last, but certainly not least, I must turn to my faith to know that I am not being punished. Nor am I being condemned for something. This event is God’s way of reminding me who is really in charge. Rather than argue with Him, I have begun checking whether there are any lessons for which I should be watching. My faith tells me He is always in control though events and circumstances may not happen the way I hope they will.
Already though this happening, I have met some new people in my community who are caring and helpful. I have formed new bonds with people I may have never met without this flood. My faith tells me to count these as blessings even though other things around me are not what I would have asked.
[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Finding #work-life-faith balance is not a static state. It is dynamic and ever-changing.[/shareable]
PS – Since I first penned this article and scheduled it to run, here are a few updates. The way forward is far more clear. I have spoken with insurance adjusters, contractors, clean-up crews and remediation experts. All is good. Oh, my wife and I must prepare to endure what is essentially a home remodel over the next 6 to 8 weeks, but again, that is not bad considering what I know about other folks and the trials they have suffered from flooding.
My sense of balance is slowly returning. The effort to restore my outlook and spirit is just as vital as the physical clean-up of our home. Last night, my wife insisted on cooking in her kitchen. She made one of my most favorite meals. We sat and ate, albeit on makeshift tables, but the experience was so soothing.