What should have been… 😭

Wow! The COVID-19 pandemic has altered SO MUCH. I’m sure you could finish this sentence due to the pandemic, I should have been _____.

Today, our family should have been packing for our spring break trip. I should have been checking my basketball bracket to see how poorly I did with my March Madness tournament picks. I should be preparing for all of my spring speaking events 😭.

This pandemic has changed, disrupted, and destroyed so much more than a basketball tournament or a trip. Schools, graduations, proms, jobs, businesses, lives and so much more have taken a hit.

It is very easy to start thinking about what should have been… While it is natural to feel this way, these words can get us in trouble by focusing too much on what’s out of our control. When done too often can distract us from the present and future possibilities. We must resist the temptation to dwell on what cannot be undone.

I have fallen into this trap before, many times actually. One in particular happened when I visited Luther College just 7 months after my injury. I was there to tour their accessible housing. It would be my new home away from home starting in the fall.

After the tour, my buddies and I went to the end of the year football meeting. Our coach discussed summer workouts, the expectations for next season, and how the younger players will need to step up in big ways to fill the spots left by the graduating seniors.

I came into the meeting with a smile and joking around with friends. However, once the coach started to talk about players stepping up, I felt my spirits dissipate as I envied the opportunity my teammates had. I couldn’t help but think That should have been me he was addressing… I should be getting my body and mind ready for next season… I dreamed about being a college football All-American and leading my team to a conference championship.

And. It. Was. Gone. Never. Happening.

I fought back the tears. I did my best to bury it and put a smile on my face. Later that night I grieved that dream knowing it would never be realized.

The next day I forcefully turned my focus to what can be done. This wouldn’t be my last past painful reminder of what should have been. It’s very human to feel that way but what is imperative is not letting the pain linger for too long. I believe this is one of my greatest strengths- Grieving then moving on quickly to what can be done.

The most important part to any disappointment or loss is to grieve- to acknowledge the hurt and pain you are experiencing. To just let it out or as Emily & I tell our kids, “Don’t carry around your stink, flush it.” 🚽

We don’t mean to bury it but to let out what’s bothering them. It’s like releasing an invisible & smelly weight that you have been carrying. Once they let go of what was weighing them down it is amazing to see how their demeanor changes.

My friends Marc & Angel Chernoff tell a story about their psychology professor. The professor holds up a glass of water and asks the class how much the glass of water weighs. The class shouts out different answers. Then he asks, “Is it heavy?” The whole class answers “no.”

The professor tells the class that how light it is won’t matter as much depending on how long you hold it for. Because how heavy will the glass feel if you hold it for a minute, an hour, a day, or a year? The longer you hold something the heavier it will feel.

It is no different than when we hold onto our past pain and disappointments. The quicker we can let go! AKA Flush it, the better we will feel. Then you can start moving on in a healthy manner.

What in your life needs flushed? 💩🚽