This is our son’s spring break week, and I’d already planned my post for the week. There actually wasn’t going to be a post this week, but I was going to write one when we got back that was tied to our vacation. We’ve all been looking forward to this vacation for a long time now, but it seems our son had other plans at the last minute.

We had some friends in town late last week, who were on their way to the Georgia coast for their own spring break. While all the kids were playing on the neighborhood playground behind our house, our son, like he’s done a hundred times before, jumped out of one of the swings when it was time to come in. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t quite stick the landing this time and broke both bones in his left forearm.

Under normal circumstances, this is just an inconvenience for all of us, but we were only five days away from our much-anticipated vacation! To make matters worse, this was going to be a beach vacation, which is not much fun in a cast. And, since the cast goes above his elbow, his doctor will not permit him to do anything in the water. Not a very good recipe for a beach vacation – water, sand, and a cast.

This was a tough pill for all of us to swallow at first but, like many things in life, things don’t always go according to plan. The following quote has been attributed to a few different people, so not sure who gets credit, but it reads:

“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”

We took a couple of days to figure out what we were going to do: continue with the vacation as scheduled, cancel it (we luckily had trip insurance), or reschedule. Further playing into our decision is the fact that this vacation has already been rescheduled once, thanks to the hurricanes last Fall.

We talked it through with our friends for an objective third-party view, and they both agreed that there was no way we could go this week; it simply wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as a cast-free vacation. One of our friends said, “maybe this happened to prevent you from being involved in an accident on the way to the airport.” It is certainly a valid point, and got me thinking a little more about the potential for meaning in the things that happen to us in life.

Sometimes stuff just happens. Maybe there’s a reason it does, and it becomes evident immediately. Maybe there’s a reason it does, but we don’t understand why for a little while down the road. Or, quite simply, maybe there’s not a specific reason – it is what it is.

I, however, am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I find it both helpful and comforting to, at times, reflect on your life and think about the decisions you’ve made, things that have happened to you, or the convergence of events that have gotten you to this exact moment in your life.

I’ve done my fair share of stupid things in life but, if you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable and self-forgiving, you can usually see either a lesson or positive outcome that resulted. This reminds me of another quote I’ve heard before, and yet another one that is credited to a few different people.

“Experience is the toughest kind of teacher because you get the test first and the lesson second.”

And even if life’s events are not the direct result of a personal decision, things can still not work out the way we want them to. We all deal with rejection in some form or another, but if you change that mentality from one of “rejection” to one of “redirection”, you’ll see that something more positive almost always results. It may take a while to happen, but it will. You might get rejected from a school, or a job, or by a love interest, but you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be, and when you’re supposed to be there.

In the end, delaying our vacation a couple of months is not the end of the world, and it’s forced us to get creative with our time this week! Who knew that the governor’s mansion and Federal Reserve Bank both give free tours? And after I publish this week’s post this morning, we’re off to a noon Braves game.

Sure, life’s a bitch (sometimes), but it’s also a journey. And it’s a gift. You can’t control everything that happens to you. Bumps and bruises are signs of living life to the fullest. Let go of the control and worry, and you’ll begin to see life’s gifts in places you never-before imagined.