To live is to experience change. When we choose to change, it usually goes smoothly emotionally. When change is thrust upon us and turns our lives upside down it can result in an emotional ride that is filled with a mixed bag of emotions.
Many years ago, some wise people who watched this change journey came up with what they called “the Wheel of Life” to visually describe the emotions of change. This Wheel of Life was often carved in the stone walls of cathedrals to instruct illiterate people about the emotions involved in the change journey.
The lesson in this Wheel of Life is instructive for today as it helps map out expectations for those who have change thrust upon them resulting in experiences that demand change and adjustment.
The four positions on the Wheel of Life are:
If you look at the image at the beginning of this post, you’ll see at the top of the wheel a well-dressed, smiling, person of royalty standing tall. This person is in the position of Happiness. Things are normal and going well. Can you relate? Is this your life right now? This was my life about 16 months ago!
The reality of life is we never stay in this first position for ever. We eventually move in a clockwise direction towards the next position called Loss. The person in the loss position on the wheel is upside down and is experiencing distress. Loss of any size can trigger this emotional reality.
The wheel continues its movement and at the bottom of the wheel the individual is naked and is being pulled along through the muck and mire of life. This is the position of Suffering. When a loss occurs, suffering follows but if you try to escape, you`ll short circuit the change process and eventually pay a price.
The good news is the wheel continues and coming up the left side is a person fully clothed rising up to the position of Hope. At this position, there emerges the anticipation of once again returning to a position of happiness.
During this season of injury and recovery, I have found myself going around this Wheel of Life more than once and on different levels. There have been numerous losses I have experienced and suffered through, found hope, then been met with happiness only to be presented with yet another challenging loss.
Four lessons I`m learning on this emotional change journey:
- Enjoy life when life is good but don’t expect the good life to be your permanent normal.
- Learn to let losses land hard in your life and don’t push them away.
- Embrace suffering as God’s gift that strengthens character and results in positive change.
- Let new ideas and fresh hope spring forth out of the rich soil of suffering.
When the Wheel of Life completes one full revolution, our new normal will look different from our “old” normal. The new state of equilibrium will come and with it those feelings of happiness. On its heals however will once again come the opportunity move forward through the Wheel of Life to even greater change and growth.
Where are you on the Wheel of Life? What have you learned about yourself from your experience with the emotional change journey?
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