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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Submitting to the Reality That We Are Not in Control

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts

As I write, I am sitting in a surgical waiting room, working to distract myself as I am all too aware of my daughter being the one who is in the midst of a procedure. While I am grateful that her surgery promises to be “routine” and something that will be nothing more than a passing memory in no time at all, I am also fully alert and ready to pounce. My mama antennae are up. My baby is under general anesthesia right now. I can view the information board that indicates that her surgeon’s status is “In O.R.” right at this moment, and the patient that surgeon’s hands are touching is my precious child, full grown adult though she be. Right now I truly have no other choice but to submit to this moment. Being honest with myself, I recognize this very moment as a time when, despite my ongoing illusion that I am fully in charge of my own life and at least, highly influential in the lives of several others, I literally have no control. I have no influence. I have no impact whatsoever on this very moment in time when it actually matters the most. I sit in full knowledge of my powerlessness, and, offering full disclosure, the feeling is not comfortable, not even a little bit.

Continuing to speak my truth, there are more of these moments than any other variety. In other words, I am virtually never really in control, in charge, or even as influential as I might choose to believe that I am. For me, this acknowledgement is equal parts distressing, humbling, and freeing. After all, it can be a relief to know that I, the quintessential bossy, opinionated mother in much of my life, do not hold the final and ultimate responsibility for all things going smoothly. Sometimes life is bumpy, messy. Sometimes relationships are inelegantly pursued and lived out. Sometimes people make mistakes. We cannot protect others from their own mistakes, despite our best efforts to educate based on our personal experiences and understanding. Others must navigate their own journey, set their own course, and live their own consequences. This can be a particularly tough reality for parents who want to protect and save their children from adversity. We cannot always excel in prevention. Sometimes we can only be there to lovingly pick up the pieces when they fall apart.

So today, even though I would gladly take the place of my daughter in the O.R., I will have to settle for being right by her side when she arrives in the recovery room, for driving her home, for giving her medication and food, for tucking her into her bed. Last night she thanked me for being here with her--allowing her to go into this procedure knowing there is someone else to tend to all of the post-surgical details. My immediate response was, “Where else would I be?” Truly, where would I? And I must say, while I am not in control, I am certainly not alone. As I sit in the waiting room, I have heard from many loved ones who are waiting and caring with me. The status board now says that my daughter’s surgeon is “Closing.” Seems like a good moment for me to do the same.

Dr. Nadine’s Thoughts:

I feel very resonant with Dr. Zan’s experience of being part of, but not in charge of, the experience she’s having in the waiting room of the hospital.  I’ve recently found myself in a different type of circumstance, but one that has at its core very similar aspects to her situation. If I can speak for her, I’d say we’re both experiencing what it’s like to be part of something that’s bigger than we are, that we cannot directly influence, change, prevent, or remediate.  For two people that are used to having some significant influence with others in our worlds, neither of us are particularly comfortable having to let things fall as they may, whether we like the outcomes or not. For me, I’m on the sidelines of several situations that I’ve had no part in creating. I’m watching some of my friends and family struggle with decisions they’ve made and the natural consequences of those decisions.  But I’m having to live as an observer with a limited ability to help them out.

I suppose this is one way that life presents opportunities for self-awareness and growth.  Dr. Zan’s awareness of not being able to impact that “moment in time”, and my awareness of watching from the sidelines prompts me to think about being clay on a potter’s wheel.  We’re continually being shaped and refined by what life brings to us. It’s our choice to either struggle against it or to submit to it. It makes me smile ironically to realize I’m struggling to submit to it.  I’m practicing letting go of my need to manage others’ circumstances -- to help when I’m able and when I’m asked to help, and I’m learning to mind my own business when I’m NOT asked to help.

I would encourage each of us to mindfully consider giving up our need to manage everything (I’m speaking specifically to the control-junkies), to let go of our press to have life meet our specific demands, to accept with grace what comes our way, to be kind to ourselves when we’re not always who we’d like to be in those difficult times, and to enlist our support systems—those people who love and care for us—to help us live fully day by day, no matter what each day has in store.


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