Plan? What plan? It Just Flew Out the Window!
Sometimes the Lord’s plans for us are not what we have planned for us. He knows best anyway, so sometimes we just have to modify and adjust. That’s ok! If you have a goal and you have to modify it, that’s ok! Stuff happens and we cannot plan ahead for everything. If you have to modify and adjust because your life took a detour that you didn’t plan for that’s ok! That’s life! If it weren’t for those detours, we would miss out on a bunch of life lessons. Some of the best life lessons that I have learned are from people that I didn’t necessarily choose to meet or have a good experience with. Sometimes we need those people in our lives because they are lessons. The hard times in our lives help us to grow as people.
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1) Beware of the People that Drain your Energy
Pay attention to how people make you feel. Do you feel happy, encouraged and full of energy after hanging around with them? Perhaps instead, you feel like you could just curl up on the couch and take a long nap because being around that particular person somehow exhausts you.
For example, in college, I had a roommate that I thought was my best friend. I thought she really cared about me because we hung out together, but over time I realized that the more we hung out, the more sapped of energy I became. It was exhausting. Just hanging out with her and going to Walmart left me emotionally exhausted because she was so needy. It drained me!
She had some health issues and she craved attention. Everything was all about her all the time, but she didn’t see that. That was my first encounter with someone that was narcissistic and said that they cared when they really didn’t. You can always tell people like that by the footprints that they leave. Look at how their walk is. I later found out that this roommate of mine was a pathological liar. That was the first toxic person that I ever had to cut out of my life and that was a hard lesson to learn. But it was one that I greatly needed. Have you ever come across someone like that?
Do you know someone that has told you that they care and they butter you up, but when you hang around them, they drain your energy? Have you ever been around someone that has told you that they care when they really don’t? I am willing to bet that the answer is yes.
2) Cut Toxic People Out of Your Life or be Drained
Have you ever had someone that was a frenemy? I just heard this term recently and it’s a combination of the terms “friend” and “enemy.” That’s what my roommate was. It took me a year before everything came to a head and I had to walk away and I had to say “I wish you the best, but I can’t be your roommate anymore.” We both went our separate ways. The thing that really got to me, and made the light bulb come on for me was that when I told her that I was stepping back and could no longer room with her, the next roommate was just like the next person in line.
Everything that she had told me, such as “You’re my best friend.” And “I love you so much!” (meant platonically) “You’re such an incredible person!” and so forth, I believed at first. Her next roommate she told the exact same thing. And that roommate believed it too, just like I had. For a time. I somewhat lost track of her after that, but I know that she moved rooms at the beginning of the next semester.
People Are Put into our Lives for Different Reasons
Here’s another thing that I learned as a life lesson: people are put into our lives for different reasons. Not everyone that you encounter is going to be a lifetime friend. I hate that for some of them. Some of the people that I thought were lifetime friends were only there for a season. But they were there when I needed them. They lifted me up and supported me when I needed it most. They were there to teach me a lesson that I needed to learn. Those people were there to help me grow as a person, and they were there to cheer me on when I thought I could not go on anymore. God put those people in my life that cheered me on that gave me the encouragement that I needed when I needed.
3) Push Through Tough Times
You don’t have to be in a person’s life for a lifetime to make an impact on them. You may only be there for a season, and that’s ok. I was a teacher for about 3 years before I stopped to stay home with my oldest son. That first year was rough. There were days that I would pray as I was driving to school in the morning, and I’d be praying, “Lord, I don’t think I can do this today! I think I picked the wrong career! Lord, please help me get through this day. Please help me get through my hardest class! Help me make it until lunchtime. If I can just make it through until lunchtime, I think I’ll be ok. Lord, I don’t think I can do this without YOU! I really need some help today!”
I was signed to a 9-month contract. There was not getting out. As well as, I had just gotten married, we had just bought a house and we needed to keep this roof over our heads! My husband was finishing up college. I had no good choice but to stay! I had to continue on. That was a really good life lesson for me.
4) People Do Not Always Think What You Think They Do
Sometimes what you think that people think of you is not what they actually think of you. I had one class period that was tougher than all the rest. Of course, it was the biggest class and it was also the longest class. I don’t know why whoever designed the schedule thought that it would be a good idea to add 20 extra minutes on to the class period right before lunch and pack everybody into it. And pack in the combination of people that I had in that class. I don’t know why they thought that was a good idea. I certainly didn’t!
That was the class period that I struggled the most with. I thought those kids HATED me! There were times that when lunch time finally came I would hide in my room, lock the door and cry. Part of it was probably exhaustion since I was getting up at 5:00 am and working till about 9:00 pm every night. I was not getting a lot of downtime or self-care time. It showed. It was a tough time. I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. I seriously thought those kids hated me.
Not what I thought
Fast forward 2 years later, I was pregnant with my first child and a student came to me and said, “Hey Mrs. Webb. I am needing some extra help with my homework. Can you stay in here at lunch and help me with it?” I was pretty excited that someone was actually asking for help and willing to sacrifice some of their free time to get help so I said “Sure! I’ll be happy to.” So, I stayed in my room at lunch and waited for her, and waited for her, and waited for her. There was no sign of her, which for this particular student was odd. A friend of mine, that taught English down the hall came by and said: “Why don’t you take a walk with me for a minute?”
My internal dialogue went something like this, “A walk with you? What are you doing out of the teacher’s lounge? Don’t you have to eat your lunch too? We only have 30 minutes! “ But I said, “ok, I’ll take a walk with you, but I’m waiting on this student.” At this point, this friend had become one of my teaching mentors, and I will forever be grateful for her inspiration and help. She was someone that was put in my life to lift me up when I needed it.
She said “c’mon, it will be fine.” So we took a short walk down the hall and back. When we returned I noticed that the door to my room was closed. That’s strange… I know I left it open. But the lights are still out. Did someone shut it? Where are my keys?
I opened the room door and those kids that I thought hated me jumped out and yelled “SURPRISE!” They had planned of their own accord, a surprise baby shower for me. They apologized for how they had acted in class during that first year. Sometimes the things that you think people think about you are not true. You don’t really ever know what another person is feeling unless you ask them to share their thoughts with you. Just because you wind up not being in someone’s life for a lifetime, you can still make a difference to that person that lasts a lifetime.
5) You Don’t Have to Be in Someone’s Life for a Lifetime to Make an Impact
I still keep in contact with some of my students. I was very young when I started teaching. Some of my students are only 6 years younger than I am. They still call me “Mrs. Webb.” It’s really nice to know how their lives turned out. I’m not a huge part of their lives anymore, but some of them have come back and told me that I was able to make an impact on them.
It is ok to not be in someone’s life forever. There will be toxic people in your life that you will learn a lesson from. That’s ok too. We need those experiences to grow as people. Sometimes people are placed in our lives that we need for a lesson, encouragement, sometimes just to get you through the moment. It doesn’t even have to be a season.
Shopping With My Youngest Son – Not So Perfect
Shopping with my youngest son in the grocery store (back in the “dark ages” before they had grocery pick up) was… Oh. My. Gosh. First son, no problem! He sat oh so cute and sweet in the baby seat, and he’d talk to me the whole time. I’d smugly push my cart past the other Mom’s in the grocery store thinking about how well I had it together. No problem! He loved it. He’d go shopping for 4 hours!
My second son, not so much. Nooooo….. Do you have any kids that you’ve been to the store with and before you go in you have to hype yourself up? Like “Ok! Preparing for WAR! Let’s invade, get all the things that we need, and get home as quickly as possible!” That was my 2nd son. When he was a toddler, we’d pull in the parking lot and he’d say “I ready to check out not, Momma!”
The One Random Encounter in the Grocery Store that Encouraged Me
I remember one chance encounter in the grocery store. I have no idea who the man was, but I am grateful for him to this day.
My youngest son sat in the seat of the grocery store cart and he was NOT being a cute, sweet, perfect little baby. Now I was the one that was pushing the screaming child in the basket and I was silently murmuring to all the other Moms that I had gone by so smugly with my first son, “Oh, I am so sorry! I totally deserve this!”
He was just pitching a fit, and I told him “Don’t do that.” And I disciplined him. He did it again. And right there on the spot, I disciplined him again. This little old man was walking by and watching the whole exchange and I saw him stifle a laugh. I thought “Thank you! SOMEBODY sees that I am trying! I know that my kid is not behaving in the grocery store. This fact is QUITE obvious to me! I am aware of all the other people giving me smug looks and that I feel like are whispering about me behind my back. Thank you, for seeing that I am trying my best!”
That goes back to what I said before that you don’t know what people think unless you ask them. They probably weren’t even thinking about me and my kid in the grocery store. I may have been bringing back memories for them of when their kids were little! I have no idea!
Sometimes, our perfect little life plan does not pan out quite so perfect. There are all kinds of bumps, valley, hills, and curves that we don’t see coming. In going through these unforeseen roads, we often learn life lessons that we would not have otherwise learned. Try to remember this, as you go through your own journey. Mistakes are lessons and the hard times help to shape us into better versions of ourselves. I think everyone has encountered one or more people that are energy “vampires.” Pay attention to how people make you feel. Do you feel great and energized after hanging out with them, or would you rather just lay down on the couch because you are completely and emotionally exhausted? Beware of people that drain your energy.
If you have a toxic person in your life, you will feel much better if you distance yourself from them. This does not mean that you hold a grudge against them, it just means that you take a step back and let them go on their way without you. We all have tough times in our lives. Use those tough times as lessons to be learned from, but most importantly, don’t quit. Just know that it will not always be tough times and you will get through it. Just keep pushing.
It is all too easy to guess what people are thinking and to worry about it. However, people are not always thinking what we think they are. The only way to know is to ask them. More than likely, they were not thinking about you anyway!
You do not have to be in someone’s life for a lifetime to make a lifetime of impact. Sometimes all it takes is a smile, a kind gesture, or a random act of kindness to help a person that you may never see again. Other times, we have people that are in our lives for a season that make an impact on us. It can be as a lesson, an encourager, or even a critic.
Never underestimate how much impact you can have on someone’s life. You are incredible, special, and there is no one else like you in the world. Celebrate your strengths, remember your skills, and keep questing for your personal contentment.
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