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“You can’t change your circumstances, but you can change how you respond to them.”  This quote hit me like a ton of bricks as we were driving just north of Atlanta, GA last Saturday afternoon.  As we were into the sixth hour of our drive to North Carolina with two kids in the car, my trusty, well loved, 2003 Toyota 4Runner decided she needed a break.  This little situation {I’ll go into detail through the post} could have easily turned into a HUGE ordeal.  You can actually see my Instagram post from Saturday here.  As both Josh and I began to respond, I became incredibly thankful that we had just spent three hours working through and revamping the FOF Health Coaching module on Circumstances and Perspective.  Here’s how we turned an ordeal into an adventure.

The Situation

So, here we are, heading to North Carolina to drop Blaise off at Camp Ridgecrest and Paisley off at Camp Crestridge.  My kids have been looking forward to this week for months…this is their very first real camp experience {I’ll be writing a follow up post once they get back to share their experience}.  They got up, and we got on the road with pure excitement.

Thanks to some mildly poor planning on my part, we were driving up Saturday morning {8+ hours}, dropping them off Sunday morning, and then heading back to Florida Sunday afternoon.  Well, I drive an old car…2003 Toyota 4Runner with 160,000 miles.  She’s been great to us, but come exit 111 on I-85 in GA, she had enough.  Just as we got off the interstate, the power steering went out, the AC went out, and the battery light came on.  She was DONE.

Here we are.  It’s Saturday.  We are in the middle of the Peach State, in a town where everything seems to close early, and we have no vehicle.  The kids have to be dropped off by Sunday morning, and Josh and I have to be back home for work on Monday morning.  So…we are in a rough situation, a circumstance that we definitely didn’t plan for {we actually tried to prevent it by taking the car in to get checked out before we even left home} and really don’t want to deal with.  This little hiccup could go one of two ways – it could be an ordeal, or it could be an adventure.

You Always Have Control Over Your Response

So often, we take these inconvenient circumstances, and we turn them into huge ordeals.  What starts as a small inconvenience snowballs and quickly becomes a major and over talked about ordeal, and now your entire day is shot.  What if you stopped for a minute and really evaluated your circumstance?  No, you might not be able to change it.  We couldn’t make the car magically start again and take us to our final destination.  Regardless of your circumstance, you are able to choose your response.  

If you think about it, your response is everything.  Our kids were in the car.  We had just finished rewriting a whole module for the Fall 2018 Health Coaching Program about perspective.  Maybe there was a reason this was the module we selected to work on.  It prepared us to handle the situation without flying off the handle or completely losing it in front of the kids.

So, instead of focusing on the bad, find any possible way to turn it into exploring or an adventure or just a little extra time at Chick-fil-a.  Does breaking down really suck?  Yes!  Is it expensive?  Absolutely.  Could it have been so much worse?  Definitely.  

You must control your response.  

Stay Calm

Staying calm in any circumstance is vital.  When you get worked up, your fight or flight response kicks in, and a flood of adrenaline rushes through your body.  While this adrenaline is great for situations where you need super human strength, it can also fog and affect our mental response.  You can begin to make rash decisions.  You can say things that you shouldn’t say.

For us, staying calm meant a bit of silence.  I knew I didn’t have anything nice to say, and Josh isn’t the most even tempered guy in stressful situations.  We both have a tendency to be drawn to the worse case scenario, which wasn’t going to help us out in this situation.  So, we were quiet.  We processed the situation separately before we began to calmly talk about it.  

Staying calm will help you avoid additional stress.  It will allow you to think clearly.  This is much easier said than done.  Just last year, our response would have been one flooded with adrenaline instead of a steady one.  Stay calm and think before you speak or react.

Really Evaluate

Sometimes, we think our circumstance is so bad just because it was unexpected.  Chances are, your situation really isn’t that big of a deal.  It might be expensive, inconvenient, and time consuming, but in the grand scheme of life, is it really that big of a deal?

In our situation, it was inconvenient, expensive, and a general pain in the butt.  However, it was not a life altering situation.  When we started to really evaluate what was going on, it was so easy to be grateful that the car broke down where it did.  Thankfully, we were not sitting in the awful Atlanta traffic.  Praise God, we weren’t driving down the road going 80 mph and got into an accident.  

Evaluate what is going on, and then begin developing solutions.  Keep a big picture perspective, and it will affect your response.

​​​​Find the Good

Even in the worst situations, it is possible to find good.  When we speak to people that have been through a tragedy, the loss of a loved one, or a true life altering trial, we notice that even they can find good in their circumstance.  Sometimes, we just have to really, really look.  The good is not always obvious, but it’s there.  For us, when we started to look for the good, here is what we found. 

We broke down less than half a mile away from a Firestone.  Not only were we close, but we arrived just 45 minutes before they closed for the day.  No, they couldn’t fix the car, but what if we had arrived after closing?

The guys at Firestone were so incredibly nice.  Even though they were closing up, they talked to us and helped us locate a rental car company.  Then, since the car company did not offer pick up, the owner of the shop drove Josh all the way to Avis so we didn’t have to use Uber.

The rental car….there was literally ONE rental car place open within 50 miles.  Josh got there 20 minutes before it closed for the rest of the weekend.  They had ONE small SUV left.  Seriously…this is all good stuff.  Again, it was an expense we weren’t planning on, but it could have been so much worse.

A trusty Chick-fil-A was within walking distance from Firestone.  Josh was able to handle the rental car while I was able to treat the kids to their favorite fast food joint {which they don’t get often}.  We could have been on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck.  Instead, we were have a very extended lunch at their favorite fast food place…and french fries.

A simple change in our perspective, making the effort to look for the good enabled us to see all that we had to be thankful for.

Move On

Why do we let our situations stay with us even after they are over?  Instead of dealing with them and moving on, we allow them to have a negative impact on the rest of our day and sometimes even our week.  Our kids had been looking forward to this trip to camp for weeks and weeks.  Why would we let an inconvenience ruin our adventure?  Dwelling on the time we lost or the money we had to spend was pointless.  We had to decide to suck it up and move on.

When dealing with a rough situation….

Face it.

Deal with it.

Move on.

Learn from it.

Next Time, Choose Adventure

Do your best to make your not so great circumstance into an adventure.  Try not to let the ordeal stay with you.  Honestly evaluate your circumstance.  Maybe it is really big, but maybe it’s really not.  Look for the good.  Then, you need to move on.

We grow from our circumstances, and we can learn from our response.  Saturday was a mess.  But, we are alive, we found an adventure, and we have moved on.

Don’t be so serious…you can find a laugh in just about every situation :).

– KP

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