Mothering, Perspective, Trusting God

Perspective: 5 Thoughts for Navigating the Unexpected

Perspective: Pitcher in motion pitching a baseball

@JeanneTakenaka

I was having “a day” with one of the boys. The other one was at baseball tryouts at his school. 

You never know when something unexpected will alter your perspective. 

The call interrupted me as I spoke with a pharmacist. I didn’t recognize the number, so I ignored it. After my conversation with the pharmacist ended, I listened to the message the other caller had left. 

And my stomach tightened. 

“Mom, I got hit in the face with a baseball…teeth came down. Possible broken jaw.”

Perspective: Boy at home plate in batting position

After my heart jolted into a too-fast rhythm at my son’s words, guilt swept over me. Why hadn’t I taken the call? Why hadn’t I been available to comfort my boy at the moment he called? 

Logic told me it was okay I’d not answered because the number the call came from was unfamiliar. But there’s this horrible tugging at a mama’s heart when her baby is hurt. Even if he’s fifteen.

When something like this happens, all that’s “important” suddenly feels trivial. That ongoing argument I’d been having with the other boy suddenly felt stupid.

Perspective: Boy in right field anticipating a baseball

We aren’t guaranteed a happily ever after with those we love most.

Sometimes the U-Turns we are forced on are painful. Scary. 

In the waiting room of the emergency department, my boy tried to read. And I texted friends, begging for prayer.

I couldn’t help overhearing nearby conversations in the crowded waiting area. The grandma who sat vigil waiting for news about a granddaughter who’d been in a car accident on the way home from school. People dealing with influenza. Adults with heart issues . . .  

. . . All of us waiting our turn with a doctor.

All of us in a place we never expected to be that day.

Perspective: Boy swinging a baseball bat with a meme that says: "Sometimes life's U-Turns are a reality check for the heart"

Sometimes life’s U-Turns are a reality check for the heart. 

It’s too easy to become wrapped up in the minutiae of our days. It’s when injury or tragedy hits that we’re shaken, that our hearts are challenged. 

Or convicted.

Our U-Turn was a relatively minor one. But what about the big shifts we sometimes face? 

Perspective: Baseball catcher in position waiting for the pitch

Here are five thoughts that can help us face the unexpected:

1. Don’t condemn ourselves for things we don’t do right. We aren’t always going to respond in the best possible way when a stressful circumstance barges into our day. We can give ourselves grace, take a step back and ask for God’s perspective.

2. Pray. God hears our words, and He hears the thoughts too deep for words. Even in the hard seasons, He is with us. Though it can be difficult, these are the times when we choose faith in what we know about Him over what we may or may not feel. Even if our praer is only, “Help!” we’re choosing to invite God into our circumstance. 

Perspective: Team gathered around coaches after baseball game

3. Look around. Not so we can compare our situation to others, but again, to help us gain a broader perspective. As My boy’s cries faded, I could hear the heartbreak of those who shared the waiting room. And I could pray for them. 

4. Remember that we never walk through the unexpected alone. Our Father is with us, ready to strengthen, offer wisdom, and guide us as we trust Him.

5. Look for God’s presence in the middle of it all. Even when we can’t see or feel our Father, He walks with us through every unexpected event. If we have eyes that are looking for glimpses of Him, we may find His fingerprints on our lives in surprising places.

After waiting for a few hours, Peter and I were led to an exam room. A dental specialist checked his mouth and teeth. X-rays were taken, and other tests were performed. Thankfully, his injury wasn’t severe. No broken teeth, though four had lowered. There were no holes in his mouth. No concussion from the impact of the ball.

Perspective: Peter sitting on the bleachers in his baseball uniform posing for a photo

In time, two teeth reattached and survived and two didn’t. And my brave boy chose to finish out his first (and final) baseball season. I’m learning to be a better listener when the boys need to/want to talk about something and not allowing lesser things to demand too much of my attention.

And, I’ve realized that sometimes U-turns realign our priorities and help us remember what’s most important in this life. 

What about you? How do you handle the U-Turns life sometimes throws your way? What would you add to this list for handling unexpected circumstances?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes life’s U-Turns are a reality check for the heart. 

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory

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40 thoughts on “Perspective: 5 Thoughts for Navigating the Unexpected”

  1. Jeanne, I’m so glad things are not to bad with him! That kind of thing is scary.

    This may be your finest post yet…but it’s hard to choose, because the quality of your presentation, and the depth, are so uniformly outstanding. But this one is a ‘print out for the refrigerator door’ essay.

    Whenever things stray off their course,
    I say, “Well, yeah, whatever.”
    There’s little can’t be solved with force,
    and for sure, the more the better.
    But now I’m in another place
    and the problem, don’t you see,
    is that this most violent grace
    must be directed back at me.
    I have to push into the pain,
    and choke down all the fear
    to earn the right to here remain,
    with all I hold so dear.
    Guess it’s a way to not be bored,
    daily falling on your sword.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, thank you for your encouragement. your poem is so poignantly descriptive of your situation. I hear so much YOU coming through your words. And I’m thankful for your continual witness to keep your eyes on others, rather than wallowing in the “hard” of your situation. Thank you, my friend. You and Barb are often in my prayers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written, Jeanne. I read all the way to the end to make sure your son is fine! Glad it turned out good and pray with you that our u-turns always turns us back to the Lord! Thanks for this great reminder, Jeanne 🙂

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  3. Oh, HORRORS! What an experience!
    So grateful your brave boy has come through this experience with as little permanent damage as he sustained (although 2 teeth!!!). We do benefit from these perspective-altering emergencies, but they also take their toll!

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    1. Michele, yes. I’m grateful God protected him from worse injury too. For the teeth that died, the dentist preserved them in their place in his mouth, and bleached them. He’ll probably have to have them replaced by crowns, eventually. Unexpected emergencies DO take their toll, but God . . . our Sustainer is always there with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, what a harrowing experience for you and your poor son! I am so sorry you both had to go through that, even though God was with you then as always. My oldest son and I had a similar experience – he was headed by a teammate playing soccer. They were both going for the same ball. He suffered a compound fracture of his nose. That was the one soccer game I didn’t attend that year because the school they were playing was far away. I felt so guilty as I met him in the emergency room. Your list of tips is very welcome. We all face unexpected U-turns sometimes.

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    1. Oh, Laurie, that must have been so hard! I trust that your son recovered? Those times when our kids are injured (and when we’re not there) are such scary. moments for us moms. Thanks for your words here today.

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  5. Jeanne,
    I had a similar experience with my son that required major dental work, root canals, implants, etc. U-turns so have a way of snapping our priorities in line. Though life and health are not at stake, I have two crews tearing up my crawl space, kitchen and powder room due to a leaking pipe. I am having to go into the “Lean on God for strength and patience and take days an hour at a time” mode. I can’t worry about tomorrow, but have to take each day, as it comes, in segments. Interesting how Life’s U-turns bring us back to Biblical Basics. Glad your son will be okay.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Awww, Bev. I’m so sorry you had to walk through that with your son. I can only imagine how unnerving that was to walk through with your son.

      And yes, those times when we’re at others’ mercy can also be a bit unnerving. It seems like sometimes the unexpected seasons teach us how to better trust God in each day, each moment, rather than worry about tomorrow. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Great post, scary situation! Life has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. Thanks for the tools. My mom always says, “it’s not like God didn’t know this was going to happen.” Knowing and trusting His got it is a big help.

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    1. Debra Jean, life does have a way of surprising us when we’re not expecting it. I guess, if we were expecting it, we wouldn’t be surprised. 😉 I like your mom’s words. I remind myself that the word, “Oops” isn’t in God’s vocabulary. We do need to know and trust Him, especially in unexpected seasons.

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  7. Thankful that your son’s injuries weren’t any worse. I agree, sometimes unexpected u-turns help us remember what’s important in life and realign our hearts with the Father. I like how one of your points was to look around. There are people we can pray for and minister to even in the midst of our own crisis or another person’s crisis or both.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I’m guilty of looking inward more than outward when life gets crazy or hard or feels out of control. God really challenged me that day (and since then) to be more others’-focused than me-focused. There are always people we can be praying for and ministering to. It seems like, when we do that, it lends a better perspective for our own situation.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  8. I am glad his jaw was okay! And that he continues to play ball. Do they recommend a mouthguard? (I would especially if he has crowns or working toward implants for the two teeth that needed replacing. :)) U-turns for me were when my brother’s colon cancer was diagnosed, and then he passed. And my best-friend’s breast cancer that also took her life 6 years later. And even when my youngest was diagnosed as developmentally delayed (mild mental handicapped). I think the only thing I would add to the list is trust that that unexpected event can grow your character when you don’t fight against the feelings of unfairness and fear, but accept that there is sadness and life is not Martha Stewart pretty, but messy wild garden beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I was thankful his jaw was okay too. I did ask about a mouthguard but the dentist said it wouldn’t make a huge difference. He probably won’t play another season of baseball. It’s not his sport. 🙂

      I am so sorry to hear about your brother. I can’t truly imagine how difficult that season must have been. And to lose your best friend. And those diagnoses for your kids . . . that’s a tough one too. We’ve walked that road. I love your addition to the list. That’s a great perspective. I love your description of life. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That must have been a scary time for you both! I’m glad the damage wasn’t as bad in the end as you feared it might be. And well done to Peter for finishing the season!
    Experiences like that definitely do give us a reality check and remind us of what’s really important!

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    1. It was indeed a scary time, Lesley. I was so proud of him for choosing to finish the seasons. I guess we all need those reality checks from time to time, don’t we? I’m thankful God walks with us through each of those events.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, Jeanne, being a parent is so hard. It sounds like the Lord has given you extra measures of strength, grace, and a wise perspective … repeatedly.

    Where were you when I needed you about 25 years ago! You would have been a sane, calming, godly influence in my life.

    Like you are now in this season.

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  11. As we “cast” our cares on Jesus…our net fills waiting in Him…The we pull the net back …finding it filled with wisdom ,courage & strength….Food to sustain us until we go fishing with Jesus again!.

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    1. I love how you took this into a fishing analogy, Sandra. You’re right, as we dip our nets into the circumstances of our lives, we have the opportunity to glean wisdom, courage, and strength. I like your thought of going fishing with Jesus. 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting.

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  12. I’m so glad your boy turned out better than expected, Jeanne. I tend to quickly condemn myself, too. I love your five tips for when we have to take unexpected uturns! They’re both encouraging and inspiring! Thank you. Love and blessings to you!

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  13. So thankful for the happy ending:) And thanks for sharing your lessons learned – even in such a difficult situation. I’m trying to see God – and feel His presence – in the middle of things (hard things) rather than simply after the crisis is past. I know, without doubt, He is there…in all the unexpected…but my emotions so often get in my way.

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    1. Jennifer, sometimes we have to choose to look for and see God in those difficult situations. I tend to go it alone sometimes too, rather than to lean into His presence. My emotions can get in the way too. I’m so glad we have a patient Father who is always with us. Now, to lean into Him more quickly in the hard seasons . . .

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  14. Jeanne, I’m so sorry this happened to your son. What a scary and painful experience! I’m glad he is okay.

    To answer your questions, “How do you handle the U-Turns life sometimes throws your way? What would you add to this list for handling unexpected circumstances?”

    I confess I don’t always handle U-Turns well. They really do throw one off. Your points are spot on. I remember when our family took a two-week vacation and my husband became very ill with acute pancreatitis. This unexpected U-Turn almost took his life; it certainly ruined our well-plannned vacation. But I remember that I finally decided to ask God, “Where are you working in this, Lord? Where can I join you?” And sure enough amidst praying for my husband and helping him, taking care of our four children, I sought opportunities to serve and pray for others in the ICU where my husband lay for three weeks. It was a crazy time, thankfully my husband survived to share God’s mercy for him (and all of us.) God taught me that all U-Turns are opportunities for ministry. Even in our pain, He provides a purpose.

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    1. Marcie, that vacation-turned-emergency must have been such a hard season to walk through! To be away from home and support networks when your husband was hospitalized . . . I can only imagine. I’m so glad he healed up. Your question, “Where are you working in this, Lord?” is such a good one to ask. God is so faithful and gentle and all that we need. When we turn to Him, we can more easily see His fingerprints and sense His promptings. Even if sometimes all He says is, “Wait.” The lessons you learned during that time sound powerful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes and amen, God is faithful. I learned that lesson then and God placed a fresh set of His fingerprints on me during that time. Thank you, Jeanne, for your reply.

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  15. What a heart-stopping moment. I want to commend you that you handled it very well. We are not perfect, but we serve a perfect God who never once left your side throughout the whole ordeal. It is easy as a parent to fall into the trap of beating ourselves up.

    As I was reading through all that you learned, I kept nodding because you turned to God in the u-turn and found him when you needed him most. You did exactly what you should have done and you were there for your son. Your five thoughts on what to do when faced with the unexpected were spot on. Sending you love and hugs!

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    1. Mary, thank you for your kind words. It’s kind of funny . . . I tend to just take for granted the truth that God is always with me. But, when the hard, unexpected events hit, it takes me time to still the pounding emotions and thoughts in me and turn to Him. Thank goodness He is a faithful Father and walks with us, even when we may not be seeking Him as we should.

      Hugs, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a tough thing to go through, Jeanne, but I’m glad you all got through it. I love your 5 thoughts on how to meet the unexpected. So glad that God doesn’t leave us to face things alone. I especially like #3, Look Around. It’s good that you were aware of the others in the room and share moments with them and pray for them. It’s too easy to look only at our own situations when things get bad, but what’s happening around us may be exactly why God allowed the misfortune. Thank you for this perspective.

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    1. I’m with you Stephen, soooo glad God doesn’t leave us to face things on our own. I appreciate your perspective that sometimes God allows things to happen to us for bigger reasons than we’re aware of, because, maybe He has things for us to learn, or ways He wants to use us that can only happen when we face our own U-Turns. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I hadn’t considered it before. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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