The first week of January I went to New York City with my son Joey. This was our second year in a row going to NYC city for his birthday (he turned 15 years old).
The day we arrived something strange happened.
My dominating thoughts were:
- How uncomfortable it was to be out of my normal routine.
- The pain in my legs, feet, and back from walking all day long.
- How I didn’t like the cold.
- The seat at the Brooklyn Net’s basketball game were really small, too high, and really uncomfortable.
Isn’t that crazy!?!?
Here I am in New York City spending time with my son for his birthday, and my dominating thoughts were about how I’m uncomfortable. I was focusing on the little disturbances and missing out on a wonderful trip!
Geez. What’s wrong with me?!?
But isn’t that what we all do sometimes?
As we go about our daily lives, little disturbances surface. Small uncomfortable things come up that are out of our control, like:
- A snarky remark from your spouse. It messes with you all day.
- Attitude from your kids in that puts you in a bad mood all morning.
- Your kids leave a mess all around the house. You constantly harp on them to pick up their mess throughout the day, but they just keep doing it. You harbor a low level frustration towards them.
- No matter how much you get done on your to-do list, you never get it all done. You’re tired from the fast pace of life.
But I’m learning this…
The more we focus on those things, the more power we give them to affect our hearts, minds and emotions.
Here’s how to face the small disturbances that come up outside your control with less anxiety and more peace:
Breath in. Breath out. Pause. Take a step back.
Get some emotional and mental distance between the situation and how it’s affecting you at the moment.
Don’t allow your thoughts and emotions to pull you down beyond the present moment.
2/ Realize you don’t have control over much of life.
After all, control is an illusion.
You can’t make people, situations, and events be just the way you want them to be.
You can’t control how other people act or the decisions they make. You have zero control over the weather. You don’t decide when you die, nor do you decide when your family or friends pass on.
There is very little you can control. I’ve heard it said that you can only control your thoughts, attitude, and actions. And that might very well be the case.
The truth is that God is the only one in control. Not us.
We all know this, but often get caught in the moment forgetting that
3/ Surrender to God
As I mentioned here, the goal is to surrender the situation to God and let go.
God really is in control. Not us.
We often just need to get our of our own way and allow God to use life to mold and shape us to be more like him.
4/ Accept reality and move on.
You might not have expected things to go this way, but it’s your reality at the moment.
Don’t resist it. Just go with it, and move on to the next thing.
Be aware of the emotion that surfaces, notice it, then let it go.
5/ Change your focus.
What you focus on expands.
The more you focus on why you’re angry, the angrier you become.
So, shift your attention to something else like:
- What you’re grateful for or excited about today.
- Upcoming projects you’re working on in ministry.
- What’s going right today.
Ultimately, shift your focus to God. His presence. His goodness. His joy.
I’ve heard a quote and can’t seem to find who originally said it to give credit. But it sums up this idea perfectly:
“Gaze at God, glance at life.”
Now, going back to my NYC experience.
I was able to catch myself in the moment and do all the things I mentioned above. I was able to enjoy the rest of my trip. Of course!!
It’s much easier to not let the little things trip me up while on vacation. Especially while I’m in such an iconic place like NYC.
In fact, here’s a pic of Joey and I at Time Square:
(Joey says I look ridiculous with that thing on my head…but at least I was warm.)
Here’s the two of us with the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan behind us:
Although we did a lot on our trip, I cherish most the experience of spending one-on-one time with my son.
My hope is that something I wrote here will stick with you the next time uncomfortable situations outside your control surface in your life.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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