Moving Forward

How does someone move forward after having their life turned upside down from some disaster?

Outside of the obvious passing of time, which will always increase the distance separating now from the significant event in history, moving forward usually only happens after three things:

1) Accepting the facts of the situation

It is easy to live in denial and withdraw from others after an event like this. One thing both my wife and I noticed is that the significance of the challenge outweighs the depth of most of our other relationships. This caused us to feel detached from church on the following (last) weekend. We were there physically, but not there as emotionally/spiritually.

The facts are things were damaged, though not nearly as significant as what we first thought. Outside of some skeins of yarn, a number of books, and some teacher materials, not much else was permanently damaged beyond use. (Wait, our dryer doesn’t work now, and that might be the most significant thing.) I also haven’t plugged in or set the studio equipment back up yet, but after 10 days, it should be dry enough to set up.

2) Accepting personal responsibility for what happened

It is easy to (and completely in our nature to) shift the blame for an event like this onto someone else. If this person (my wife, the plumber, the home builder, the [insert random stranger here]) had of noticed or done something, then this wouldn’t have happened. This way of thinking will only leave us trapped.

Instead, we must accept our own responsibility for what happened, and I must accept that I knew that the basement was not as water-tight as it could have been, and that there had been minor floods before under other circumstances.

3) Forgiving ourselves for what happened

Forgiveness is probably the hardest piece of moving forward. Just as a few months ago I shared about what forgiveness means, life will always present opportunities to practice forgiveness. In our flood situation, forgiveness takes the responsibility piece to the next step by saying that I am willing to accept the consequences of what has happened here, and not require any payment (emotional or monetary) for what was lost, from any party that was involved — including myself.

However, even with each of these three steps in place, time needs to elapse before being able to settle back into life. With disasters, it is easy to get caught in the past, but what really helps people move forward is by looking forward at the next steps in life — then beginning to walk.

This weekend marks my wife and I’s fourth anniversary. For many other readers, we are approaching other holidays and special days. As we take some time to remember how long we have traveled through life together, this weekend is also a good place to pause, and ask ourselves, “Now that the year is half over, how well have I succeeded in the plans that were set out six months ago? What is it that I want to focus on for the last half of 2012.” The half-way point in a year is a great time to recommit to focus on one or two key goals for the rest of the year, and because there is not a culture shift towards failure like six months ago, you are set up to succeed when others stay defeated.

What will you focus your attention and energy on in the last six months of the year?