Tossing and turning; more tossing and turning; even more tossing and turning. It’s so common to feel restless and not know what to do. We might have planned for something but circumstances are not going the way we want it to go.
It could be as simple as some daily plans that we have made. We were supposed to go out to the botanical gardens but it started to rain. We were going to bake some pies but the oven stopped working. We wanted to visit family in Auckland but the lockdown was still on-going.
Or it could also be more complicated like major plans in our lives. Some might have planned to move in to a new house but the building has been delayed because of lockdown. Some might have been planning for a wedding but now family can’t travel because of the restrictions in place.
When things don’t go the way as planned, we can become restless. What should we do? We can either wait for the situation to change and hope we can still go on with our plans though a little later or we might end up changing the plans altogether.
Having choices is part of the cause of restlessness, especially when we feel that we have been denied of our first choice. The thing about our first choice is that we have already put in a lot of thinking into making that decision. Having it vanish into thin air after investing so much into it feels like our effort is wasted.
We become restless as we try to still make that first choice work despite setbacks while also wrestling the need to change our decision. We toss and turn wondering if we need to settle for our second choice.
The thing with our first choice is that we think that that is the best. We went for that choice because we have weighed our other options and eventually came to the decision that that is the best.
So when our first choice does not come to pass, we can feel robbed of our best; hence the start of our restlessness.
However, the thing about the best choice is this – we call it the best because it was the best among what was available. If we look at it from another angle, when our first choice is out of the question, the second choice becomes the best.
This means even though it was the second choice, it is now actually a first choice because the first choice is no longer available. We become restless when we live in the past and hang on to the first choice which is no longer available.
However, when we begin to live in the present instead of being stuck on what could have been, we begin afresh and look at our options from a new perspective. We begin to approach the current options we have in spite of the circumstances, instead of being bitter and regretful of what could have been because of the circumstances.
If it was raining, our options could be to visit somewhere indoors or to stay at home. If the oven stopped working, we could think about steaming or cooking food on the stove. If we could not visit some family physically, we could think of others we could still visit and do that.
If we could not move in yet to our new house, we could make the most out of the house we still have now before moving. If people could not attend our wedding physically, we could consider ways to bring the wedding to them without needing them to fly over (technology has definitely made this way easier now compared to decades ago without the internet).
There are lots of new and good choices available when we take the old option out of the equation. All that are the best in the situation we are in.
We all know that comparison is the stealer of our joy and in this case comparison with a past first choice is a stealer of our peace. Let go and let God take our current new choice and make it the best choice.
Carla Laureano, in her book ‘Brunch at Bittersweet Café’ writes, “Things happen in this world- sometimes accidents, sometimes a result of our own actions- but that doesn't mean God's abandoned us. It just means that we live in a messed-up world. It's when we trust Him completely that He begins to bring good out of bad situations.”
After all, “we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” (Romans chapter 8, verse 28).
May the lyrics of the song ‘God will work it out’ bring peace to us as we anchor our trust in Him who is steadfast and able to calm whatever restlessness is in our lives.
Oh, God will work it out
God will work it out
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
Oh, God will work it out
Be encouraged, oh
Be still my soul
Be still and know
Lean in, take hold
In God alone
Esther Koh is a primary school teacher living in Wellington with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
Esther Koh’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html