We evolve when our life conditions become unworkable. -Doug King
I remember the day Pam got off the train, from her increasingly miserable daily commute into New York City, and said, “I am done with this.” We had two little girls and I wasn’t earning much in my first job out of seminary. She made more than I did. How were we going to survive? I tried talking her out of it, but failed, thankfully. It wasn’t easy. We had to re-jigger our whole life, but the decision made that day shifted the course of our family and ultimately led Pam to strike out on her own and write a remarkable series of books. It happened because her life had become unworkable.
Vibrant change only happens when things get chaotic and out of control. Those are the moments that spur us—if we’re awake, with enough courage and grace—to make the change. Think of the big turning points in your life. Almost invariably they arise at peak periods of struggle or crisis. Your career had become too painful to sustain. Some key relationship was bad and just not getting better. Your doctor had that frank conversation with you. Your faith buckled in the face of reality. The school called you in for a meeting about your child. That’s when you knew something had to change, and it was you. Almost everyone knows the first of the Twelve Steps: “We admitted . . . that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Everyone reaches these breaking points. For some reason, we don’t know why, God directs our lives along roads rutted with struggle. It appears to be the only way we grow. But sometimes we are just too determined not to let the breaking points break us. By God, we are going to find some way to keep this old life on track, even if it kills us. Sometimes we need that cussed persistence, but often it’s just fear, it’s just ego.
You may be at a breaking point right now, or it may feel like that time is not far away. What we need in that moment is grace, energy from beyond ourselves. It is a strange power, but we must trust it—the power to fall, to allow our old life to be broken so that something new can be created in its place.