We all go through moments in life when we’re pretty sure we want the next step, the promotion, the additional responsibility, the praise. Whatever that thing is, we all experience it in some way over the course of a career. We think we know what’s next, and we run after it with everything within us.
And then we don’t get it.
We miss the mark, the promotion goes to a colleague, the praise is deferred, the next step is no longer in sight. It’s a rough spot when you’re living it; a crazy number of emotions flood into your life and work, and if you’re not careful, they can sweep you away into drowning, turbulent waters.
Sometimes, though, what we think we want isn’t actually what we want, and life does us a favor, or as I view it…God orders our steps along a much different path that perhaps shades us from the scorching sun we may not have even anticipated. It’s only in retrospect, however, that we can see the saving, the “oh my goodness…I’m so glad I missed all that” moment. I’m humming Garth Brooks’s Unanswered Prayers right now.
I think about this frequently as I move forward in my career because as I look back on my career, I can now easily see how my work and passions have shifted and how things would have or could have been dramatically different if I had chosen other paths or other work. For example, and I’ve written about this a few times, when I first became a nurse, I thought I was going to work in labor and delivery; it was only through a series of events that I became an oncology nurse, a nursing specialty that I now love deeply. I’m so thankful that what I thought was a tragedy at the time happened; I am who I am because of it.
And because of those past experiences, I am able to find the beauty in missing moments I thought I really wanted. And I move on, focusing on what is right around me…because there is always opportunity for improvement right in front of us if we look for it. It’s in those moments of working diligently to build the next steps for others around us that typically our next steps appear.
There’s an ironic beauty in it all.
Have you ever been through these unanswered prayers experiences? If so, how did you move forward when you were living those moments?