Uninvited Guests

On occasion, I have been known to entertain some interesting visitors. I really don’t like them and if the truth be told… I wish they would just go away. They aren’t welcome and never really were, but they show up unannounced anyway.

It’s not like they are spending every free moment with me. They usually don’t bother me during the day when I’m busy at work. It is during my nights when they really make their presence known. Maybe you know them. Maybe they’ve visited you too at an inopportune time… they are notorious for that.

Their names are: What-If, If-Only and Why-Me. Have you heard of them? They are quite the terrible trio and whenever they visit, they always want to party. They know how to take a perfectly nice evening and turn it upside down. They’re LOUD, obnoxious and rude. They especially like popping in when everything is quiet and I’ve settled down with my journal or a good movie or book. They dance around my home and call me names to get my attention.

What-If likes to play this annoying little game with me. He shows me a scenario in my life that has actually occurred (a negative one of course) and then proceeds to show me ALL of the other seemingly BETTER ways the same scenario could have played out If-Only… And this is where he joins in on the fun.

If-Only whispers in my ear ALL of the things I COULD have done differently so that the scenario in question might have had one of those better, more desirable outcomes. If-Only likes to dangle his favorite toys in front of my face: Lost Opportunities, Past Possibilities and Roads-Not-Taken. And he will not rest until I reach out my hand and grab hold of one or all of his tempting little trinkets.

Why-Me is a bit more shy, but is actually the worst of the bunch. He usually hangs back to wait and see how the other two have fared in engaging me. He is not one to force himself on me. He knows that when What-If and If-Only have done their jobs well, and sufficiently gotten my attention, it is only a matter of time before I approach him.

Why-Me LOVES to play dress-up. When I come to him, he is ready and waiting with a heavy coat made out of the fabric of Misery and Self-Pity. This he likes to drape across my shoulders. It weighs me down and is dreadfully uncomfortable to wear. I always end up slogging around, shoulders stooped beneath the weight of the garment, unable to move. When I am aptly dressed, Why-Me stands back and smirks… knowing that he too has made the most of the visit.

You can see why these 3 are such annoying and unwelcome guests. They aren’t the least bit fun and their shenanigans leave me totally drained, exhausted and spent. After they’ve gone, I spend the next several days cleaning up after them because of course they never visit without making a total mess of things.

I do, however, have a couple of friends who—when I think to invite them—do an amazing job of keeping those 3 trouble makers at bay. Their names are Gratitude and Contentment. And the 5 of them actually cannot even exist in the same room. I really should call them more often and invite them over. I’m positive that they are such loyal friends… they’ll even HELP me clean up the mess next time.

“There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.”

Stormy Seas

“Calm seas don’t make good sailors.”

I read that once on a sign that I used to pass everyday on my way to work. I took a second to absorb it and then nodded my head in agreement that it is not the good times or the quiet times or the all-is-right-with-the-world times that make us who we are. It is the tough times that ultimately develop and define us.

That concept doesn’t exactly leave one with a “warm fuzzy” feeling. It kind of stinks to know that in order to be a better person, I am going to have to face difficulties and trials. But it is so true. And my not liking it won’t make it any LESS true.

So after I’m done lying down crying, kicking, screaming, yelling and feeling sorry for myself about how NOT FAIR (insert name of said trial or tribulation here) is… I usually pick myself up, dust myself off, and try to move forward while considering what valuable lesson can be gleaned from the unfortunate circumstance.

But sometimes it isn’t always that easy to just “learn our lesson” and move on. Some things are going to be SO big, so earth-shattering, so knock-you-on-your-ass devastating that it isn’t possible to simply alter our behavior, adjust our attitude or modify our thinking.

I have learned that sometimes we will have to sit in the dark while the storm rages all around us, knocking things down and forever changing the landscape of our lives. Sometimes we will have to cling to whatever vestiges of peace we can find when the sky overhead cracks open and the rain falls and thunder rattles our very foundation. Sometimes there isn’t going to be an easy way out. Sometimes we will just have to WAIT it out.

And that waiting can be the hardest part.

But I guess in those times—in those waiting periods—we can take heart that something IS happening! We are silently changing, growing and being refined. We become acquaintances of Sorrow. We have developed relationships with Patience, Perseverance and Stillness. So when the winds cease, the waters calm and the sun shines down on us again, no matter how long we remain in the center of that storm… we will be forever changed… for the better.

And when we open our eyes, we will find that we are not empty-handed. Rather, our arms have been filled with tools. Tools that will help us build a shelter for our friend when it is their turn to ride out the storm.