• Dr. Cindy Walker

Life Is Not Always a Pretty Picture


Hannah and I took a girl's trip over the MLK holiday weekend. We headed to Savannah, Ga., with dreams of looking at historic homes, spending some time at the beach, and relaxing before the craziness of the semester took over.

Our usual plan when going to a new city is to take a free walking tour. This tour always gives us an overview of the city, and we can then go back to the areas that we want to explore further. The tour was scheduled and we headed out to meet our tour guide.

If you are in the south you will know that a cold front came through Saturday night. It was COLD!!! Like bone chilling, wind blowing through to your insides, cold. Wind gusts were up to 30 mph. And, as you walked between buildings the wind tunnels were almost unbearable. Our poor tour guide lost his hat several times, and we would all be chasing it down the street.

The original plan was to go on the tour, go back to locations that we wanted to see more in depth and take pictures at all the "Pinterest picture worthy" locations. That did NOT happen.

Instead, we walked in the cold for two hours and were frozen to the core. We took one picture at a fountain just to say we did and headed back to the car as fast as we could.

Think about your daily, weekly and even monthly plans I get up every morning and check my calendar so that I know what to expect for the day. I create a calendar for every class at the beginning of the semester so that students know what to expect in class every day. Most of you probably do the same or a similar tasks. The fact is, we all make plans for our lives.

Then the wind hits us in the face, and it is unbearably cold. A friend calls in need, and we spend an hour on the phone. There goes my plan for the day. Or, we experience a job loss, and we are scrambling to figure out how to pay the bills. Maybe your child is sick on the day when you have a tight schedule. So many variables. It is at this point that you have to make a decision. And that choice is entirely up to you.

Do I choose to melt down and pout, or do I acknowledge the disappointment and then move on?

We chose to drive 20 minutes to Tybee Island (lots of time to crank the heater up in the car and warm up) and visit the ocean (quickly), so that we could say we had been there, find some food, and then walk around the mall and see a movie.

No pouting or anger or whatever emotion overcomes you when life isn't going the way you thought it would was going to take over our trip. We just asked each other, "What's a good alternative?".

The movie nor the mall were on our game plan. We can go to the mall and a movie at home. No need to drive five and a half hours to do so. A mall is a mall, in most cases. But, here we are in Savannah, and it is too cold to be outside.

A detour. Think about the detours you take. Some of them are your fault because of choices you made. Others happen because God put the world in motion and life just happens.

This blog is NOT about the detours but about our reaction to the detours. Do you melt down? Pout? Get angry and yell at your spouse or children? Do you become a victim and think everyone is out to get you? Do you become the victim who thinks people don't understand you or appreciate you?

Or do you embrace the detour and find the joy that God wants you to have each day?

Your children, your friends, your spouse, your brothers and sisters in Christ, others you come into contact with are watching your reaction when those roadblocks come. It is your responsibility to make the best of every moment of your life.

Whining about "what if"s will get you no where. And, you are teaching others around you to whine instead of finding a viable detour.

Life is not going to go as planned. Proverbs 19:21 reminds us, "Many are the plans in the mind of man..."

We can make plans ad nauseam. We can organize and make lists. But, at the end of the day there will be some roadblocks; we must make a choice on how we handle those times. We can find viable detours and happily travel that road, or we can act like a small child not getting our way.

The choice is yours. Parents, your children will mimic your responses to these detours, so it's better to have a positive response to detours than a negative.


Good responses

  1. See the detour as an opportunity to be different. I never go to the movie. It's just not something I normally do. So, it was fun to just sit in the dark and chill out.

  2. See the detour as an opportunity to change. Hannah and I wanted to see several historic buildings, but it just wasn't reasonable. We changed our plans. We thought of alternatives. We reorganized. Too many people are stuck in a rut. They don't see outside the boundaries and envision a new path. They keep trying to revert to old paths or repeat the same behavior. That just doesn't work.

  3. See the opportunity to envision something better. The detour can be a more rewarding journey. You never know where you might end up. We took the opportunity to find photo op locations (thank you Pinterest) and visited those specifically on Monday. Instead of rambling the streets of Savannah we had a very specific game plan (which, by the way created another roadblock when the downtown streets were blocked for the MLK parade).

We spent the two hours we had on Monday at the River Front and Wormsloe State Park. Our pictures were beautiful, and the trip was wonderful. But those weren't the pictures we intended to create. The trip was not the picture perfect, post on Facebook and Instagram, get those model shots that we had in mind.

What saved us? Our attitude. And that is what you can show others when life hits you hard. James Cope was president of Florida College when I attended there. He always pounded in students' head, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonades."

The next time a roadblock presents itself, and life isn't all pretty pictures, decide to respond positively. Some times the best paths are the surprises we encounter.