Weathering the Storm: Coping with Unexpected Change
They say that life has its seasons—and that everything can change in an instant. I despise change. When a sudden, painful event tried my strength and tested my faith earlier this year, I turned to my support network to find my way through the storm.
There is a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds, which was featured in the brilliant movie Forrest Gump. The song’s lyrics focus on how there are different seasons in our lives.
I despise change. Do you?
The Comfort of Stability
As I have grown older, I’ve become more set in my ways. At work, I park in the same spot every day. If someone parks where I want to, I get irritated. I sit in the same pew at church each week. My husband and I frequent the same few restaurants even though we live in Las Vegas, where restaurants are numerous.
I am a special-education teacher’s aide and have been for eleven years. For the past six years, I have had the pleasure of working with an exceptional teacher. She has been like a mom to me, providing constant support: on a daily basis in my work with the kids; during the launch of my memoir, Some Dreams Are Worth Keeping; while conquering my fear of public speaking; and at every point in between.
A Sudden Storm
In January of this year, my coworker went in for a medical procedure and had a stroke afterward. In an instant, our lives were changed. One day, we were laughing hysterically; the next, she was fighting for her life.
To be honest, I did not take the news well. I could not go into work the day after she had the stroke. I was in shock, and that came with deep pain and uncontrollable sobbing. I was unable to sleep, and I was unable to control my emotions.
When I returned to work, I walked into the room, feeling hopeless, lost, and lonely––as if my beloved coworker had died. But I also felt very grateful she had not. I cried and asked God why this had happened. I have always been a woman of strong Christian faith, and my faith was definitely being tested. How on Earth would I cope?
Finding Strength with Support
I knew I needed my strong support system, which I am blessed to have in place. After my coworker’s stroke, I ran to my first support––my husband. Honestly, he had no idea what to say. Together, we prayed aloud for her recovery. He hugged me and didn’t let go. I found strength in his loving embrace.
I also relied on others in my network of supporters. I had over thirty people carrying me through the storm. Current coworkers, a kind and caring principal, my close friends, my parents, and a support group I co-lead at my church. I have never had such a strong group of people in my entire life. It is a true blessing from God.
From that point on, I had to accept change—like it or not. Luckily, I had a long-term sub I worked with. I enjoyed the experience and loved learning about her Muslim faith.
Slowly Accepting a New Season
Before her stroke, my coworker and I had planned on having three more years together before we would go our separate ways. Apparently, God has other plans.
On the last day of the school year, I packed up our classroom, with on-and-off tears, having to let go of the past. She and I will never work in the same room again. I was feeling empty and devastated.
My amazing principal popped into the room. She assured me that change can be good. Mind you, I had tears coming down my cheeks. I listened, wanting to believe her. Knowing she was speaking the truth.
The silver lining on the dark cloud is that I know the next teacher I will be working with, and I like her. She is much younger than me, and she still has her passion for teaching. That can be hard to find these days.
The 2019–2020 school year will be a new season. Now I forever hold on to memories of my past, and I look forward to this new season with optimism, knowing that God has a beautiful plan for me.