In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, pastor Freed used this quote from Denis Waitley –
“Don’t dwell on went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next.”
He recounted how Waitley’s advice is often paraphrased as “Get over it” and explained that in that context the word over is actually a contraction of the word “recover”.
So, when things go wrong, we are to recover and move on. Many people have a tough time with the recovery part, much less moving on. They allow themselves to become trapped in the panic, anger or grief of the moment of a setback or loss and end up lashing out blindly in response or wallowing in self-pity instead of moving on.
It takes a conscious effort to recover from a traumatic event in one’s life and make no mistake, many events are traumatic. The dictionary defines traumatic as an adjective meaning “emotionally disturbing or distressing.” Things like a rejection of affections or being passed over for a promotion or the death of a loved one can have as large of a traumatic impact upon us and a physical injury event. Such traumas often cause physical responses as well as physiological ones. The traumatized person may look flushed, their blood pressure may rise and they may even faint.
What is one to do to stop the trauma and begin recovery? The word “stop” is the key. One must be able to come to a complete stop mentally and step back from the thoughts and emotions that are driving the trauma. That is not easy, but making it an overt and conscious effort helps. Imagine mentally screaming STOP in your mind (maybe even say it out oud if you are alone). If you can stop the stream of thoughts that were consuming you, then you can take the next step and admit to yourself that it happened, it’s over and there is nothing that you can do to change the past. That will allow you to refocus upon the future – the what’s next step.
For Christians there is an important middle step that comes after the STOP and before the next step. It is the step where they ask for God’s help. They have just stopped thinking about the past and may be unsure of the future, but they reach out through their faith to the one sure thing in their lives – the undying love of God for them – and seek His help. Whether you use the little prayer “not my will but thy will be done” or maybe use a sports phrase “little help here, God” the important things is that you made the call to God and He will answer. He will give you the strength to carry on and recover. He will show you what’s next.
We see interesting stories quite often in the news about people who have suffered traumatic losses of loved ones – a parent, a spouse or a child – going on to found movements or charitable organizations to help others going through the same thing or perhaps to avoid a repeat of that trauma. The Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization started that way, as did organizations like AA and NA. For the founders of those organizations the “What’s next” was a call to action to work against that type of trauma.
Most of us will probably not go on to found and lead a non-profit organization, but we can join organizations that already exist in our community and find some solace in working to help others facing the same issues. We can learn how to share the experience that traumatized us in such a way that it helps others avoid the mistakes that we may have made. Being able to verbalize both the trauma and our own recovery helps them and us.
If one is on fire the advice is “stop, drop and roll”. For the “fire “of a trauma in our lives, perhaps the advice should be “stop, pray, recover.” Let’s put that on a T-shirt and wear it for others to see.
What’s next for you? Ask God. He’s got something in mind for you.