In horseback riding, balance is everything. Lose it, and you can earn a hard fall.
On a good day with a good horse, balance can be easy. But sometimes things happen. A missed step, a burst of restless energy, the sudden appearance of a horse-terrorizing object…. Any number of things can leave the best of us lurching, flailing – or on our backside in the dirt, watching our horse trot away.
Life can do that, too. One moment, we’re going about our daily business. The next, we’re flat on our backs in the dirt.
How did I get here? Where do I go now?
So how do we catch our balance when life skips a stride? The answer isn’t always simple, or the same for all scenarios. But it often involves three things:
Connect With God
Before you do anything else, pray. Even if you don’t know what to say. Sometimes all we need – and all we can manage – is, “Help, God!”
God’s name is an anchor when everything else starts churning. It doesn’t give us an instant way forward, But it gives us an instant connection to the most solid, unmovable thing in existence – the Creator Himself.
In more horsey terms, it puts our center of gravity back in line with the Center of our rearing, bucking lives. Once centered, we can stay aboard a life that is pitching, spinning, or racing down the steepest hill imaginable.
In one word, it reminds us of all that God is – His love, faithfulness, power, authority, omniscience, grace, holiness, truth, justice, patience, mercy, and compassion. It reminds us that His character does not change. That in itself can give us guidance and comfort.
We also know that He hears us, and will help us do whatever we need to do and get through whatever confronts us.
Assess Our Position
Before we can figure out where to go next, we need to know where we are now.
This isn’t always easy, because life often keeps right on going while our heads are still spinning. We don’t always have the luxury of taking weeks, days, or even hours to respond to a situation.
But taking a moment to take stock of our situation and check on ourselves can make us a little better prepared for what comes next.
Lower the phone. Step back from the computer. Take a slow, deep breath. If you have time, find a quiet place to process.
Ask yourself how you feel, and what you’re thinking. Check for signs of injury – emotional, mental, and spiritual as well as physical. Get professional help if you need it.
Then look at your situation. Identify what’s challenging you, and what’s not. What’s struggling, and what’s going smoothly. What’s urgent, what’s important, and what’s neither. Investigate your options for responding to the situation.
And remember where you’ve been. Draw wisdom and comfort from how far you’ve come, what you’ve learned, and what God has done in your life. Take courage from His faithfulness.
Connect With Others
Talk to wise, trustworthy friends, mentors, or family members. People who are good listeners, and ask good questions. People who keep your confidence, support you, and uplift you, but who love you enough to give honest feedback and ask hard questions. People you respect, and who respect you.
Take a moment to ask God for humility and discernment before and while you talk to them. Tell them what you want – a sounding board, advice, encouragement, or all three. Ask questions – but let them ask you some, too, even if you don’t answer aloud.
Finally, don’t forget to measure their advice and your thoughts by biblical principles. Studying God’s Word as you sort through your situation and prepare to respond can help you keep a clear view of God’s character, your own position, and what a godly response might look like in your circumstances.
These are just a few things that can help us get our bearings in the face of the unexpected. Often, they are just the beginning. Adjusting to change, making change, deciding where to go from here – it all takes time.
Whatever you do, and whatever happens, remember this: Nothing will ever take you away from God. Life can throw you down, or run away with you. But the loving, good, almighty, ever-present God will always be there. With you, under you, above you, on every side.
He will be there offering strength, inner peace, joy, guidance, comfort, grace. Even in the darkest, most confused and hopeless places.
So keep seeking Him, calling to Him, and listening for Him. And keep riding that horse called Life.
What has helped you “catch your balance” in the face of the unexpected?
Disclaimer: I’m not a counselor or lawyer, and this post is not intended as professional or legal advice. If you need expert help with a specific situation, seek a reputable, experienced source.