(Originally posted September 16, 2015)

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So I had one of those really great conversations with a friend yesterday that was spontaneous, yet connecting and authentic. I stopped by her house to drop something off and we had a 30-minute talk that touched on authenticity, protection, preparation, but mainly – priorities.

My friend B is going through some tough stuff right now – her husband has started a new business, he’s in a volunteer position that is engaged in some public controversy, and she’s currently nursing her sister through recovery after surgery to repair a broken vertebrae. So the sister has taken up residence while B and family care for her until she’s able to live on her own again. It was a reminder of how quickly life can change – and the need to be adaptable, to be prepared for life’s challenges.

In addition to B’s sister, and my husband’s treatment for depression this year, we have another friend who’s spent 2015 facing a serious illness, a friend going through a divorce, one going through a very public job change, friends who struggle with their children in school, the illness of parents, etc. B and I talked about all the things that have happened to people we know, and how quickly life can be up-ended. It makes us consider our priorities, where we spend our time, and are we “ready” for the challenges that will inevitably come?

First, priorities: B and I talked about how crisis makes you want to circle the wagons… hold your family close. Facing a crisis really makes you consider where you spend your time. I spend alot of time with my husband and children. Time well spent? Yes. But I also spend alot of time on volunteer committees and boards. Am I committed to them, do I enjoy them? Mostly. But am I passionate about all of them? No. I now look at every meeting, every volunteer commitment, as an hour away from the more important priorities of my family, my friends, and my job. So yep, need to purge some of those commitments for sure. After all, I only have 3 more “first days of school” with my oldest two kiddos. And, because of extra commitments this week, I’m struggling to find time to bake my best friend’s annual coconut birthday cake. And THAT has to be a priority.

Next, preparation: Are we ever really “prepared” for sudden change, whether it’s positive or negative? Sudden illness, sudden loss, or maybe even a golden opportunity that sneaks up? The answer is no, and yes. If you’re in prayer, and maintain faith that God’s grace and mercy will sustain you, then you might be more “prepared” than you know. But that doesn’t mean that life’s challenges won’t knock you to your knees, or take your breath away for a moment. But remember – He is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalms 34). My friend B and I both lean on our faith to face those challenges, and I don’t know how others can do it without that core strength and hope that comes through faith! You can only “prepare” in the sense of knowing that life will change, it will throw you curveballs, people will hurt you, your family will suffer. But there’s always hope around the corner.

Your hope – your faith – is illustrated in the “buts” in 2 Corinthians 4: We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Our friends, our families, are all going to experience challenges and hardships. Have those conversations with your friends, your partners, your children, your parents…. share your struggles, so others can share theirs. If we’re all authentic, all honest, we can help each other be prepared.

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