by Pamela J. Morton
I looked at my phone. 11:13 am. I had exactly two minutes to drive from my in-laws’ country home to a restaurant in a nearby town where my niece sat patiently waiting for me.
I turned the key to the ignition. No go. I swung my head around wondering what in the world was happening. I’m no mechanical genius, but I have never had trouble putting the key in the engine and turning it over. No juice. The battery was dead. I took a deep breath and went back inside to enlist my husband’s help. He very patiently put on his coat and shoes and began his search for jumper cables.
I could say that this was the start of a rough day, but that wouldn’t be true. This was the MIDDLE of a rough day that had already started earlier. Let me recap.
I washed my new flash drive with the other laundry.
I booked two lunches on the same day.
I changed a password on a joint account and couldn’t remember what it was (and hadn’t written it down).
I lost my keys.
I found my keys in the ignition of my car. (What?!)
I had left the key turned so that it drained the car battery. (More…what?!)
I couldn’t find jumper cables.
I was late to meet my niece.
By noon, my frustration levels spiked as adrenaline coursed through my veins.
“What is wrong with me?” I muttered to myself. “Get it together, Pam!” I shook my head in disbelief. I have been known to have “Lucy” moments, but back-to-back, over-and-over?
As we drove to town in my father-in-law’s truck (Thank you, Pa!), I told John, “Well, I have really hit the chaos phase, haven’t I?”
He smiled and said, “Yep.” (He doesn’t require many words for most situations.)
William Bridges categorized the three phases of transition in his book, Managing Transitions, as “Ending,” “Neutral Zone,” and “New Beginning.” I had also heard the “Neutral Zone” referred to as the “Chaos Phase,” which I think is a better description of my current state.
It’s in this phase of being between the ending of something and the beginning of something else that I find most difficult. I tend to lose all common sense. Before I know what is actually happening phase-wise, I chastise myself for these ridiculous mistakes. I just add stress to my already stressed condition!
But, now that I understand that this “chaotic phase” is just that––a phase, I can see it for what it is and take it in stride. It’s a physical response to a stressful situation.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace,” 2 Corinthians 4:16 MSG.
When I pause and understand what’s happening, I take a moment to thank the Lord for His “unfolding grace.” He provides peace in chaotic times while giving strength to close out old endings and enter new beginnings. Can I get a “Hallelujah!”?
PS For those curious, I didn’t cancel either lunch appointment. I kept them both. I consider myself a Professional Luncher. ;)
Pam Morton, her husband, John, and two teenaged daughters packed up their fulfilling, understood Midwestern life and moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2009. Her dream of serving overseas became a shocking reality of daily cultural encounters that often left her wondering if she’d actually landed on Mars instead! From Cairo to Khartoum to Upper Egypt to deserts unknown, Pam continues to learn, live and thrive in a sandy, sweaty, hospitable land.
An author, global worker, teacher trainer and self-proclaimed “professional luncher,” Pam wants to share laughter, life and hope with her dear Arab neighbors while providing insight into Middle Eastern customs and everyday life with her friends in the West. www.pamelajmorton.com