On October 30, 2013, I woke up and started getting ready for work, but something didn’t feel right. I felt utterly exhausted and very emotional. Tears kept welling up in my eyes for no reason, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and sleep all day. So, I did something that I rarely do. I called in sick.
Those who know me well know that this is very uncharacteristic of me. Left unchecked, I can be a workaholic. I could literally have pneumonia, and I’d still decide to work from home if I had a big project due. My husband, who was in Canada at the time, was worried. He texted me to ask if I needed to talk. I texted back to say no and proceeded to do some yoga.
During my practice, I said a little prayer to the Universe. It went something like:
“I don’t know why I feel this way today, but I’m giving myself permission to feel. I surrender to this day and ask that it turn out for my highest good.”
Afterwards I did some reading, ate lunch, and was about to take a nap when my husband called. I thought he was checking up on me, until he asked if I was sitting down.
I said yes, and he replied, “My mom passed away in my arms thirty minutes ago.”
I was shocked. His mom had been battling cancer for over two years, but her passing was unexpected. My husband had been helping her walk to her car when she suddenly collapsed. She let out four breaths, and then she was gone.
When I heard the news, my mind started racing. I was in Boston—over 500 miles away from my husband and his family—and I didn’t have a passport. My passport was held up in Canada. I’d been trying to renew it for months, but the government kept rejecting my photos. I called the Canadian Embassy in Boston and pleaded my case. They told me that I’d be able to get into Canada with my birth certificate and driver’s license but that I wouldn’t be able to get back into the U.S. without a passport.
I called the Passport Canada office, and they told me that they had (finally!) accepted my photos a few days ago, and that my passport was on its way to Boston via FedEx, but they weren’t sure when it would arrive. I called FedEx, and they told me that they had already made three delivery attempts when I wasn’t home, and that after this, they usually send the package back to the shipper.
Feeling defeated, I hung up, sat at my desk, and cried. This seemed like the icing on the cake of an already stressful couple of months. I was completely helpless. Many thoughts were whirling through my mind. Things like:
I’m a terrible wife. I’ve been so focused on work lately while my husband has been dealing with so much with his family. And now I can’t even be there to support him during his time of need.
I’m a terrible daughter-in-law. The last time I saw my mother-in-law was in August, and I didn’t get a chance to properly say good-bye.
At this point, I truly surrendered. Something inside of me shifted, and I accepted that, no matter how hard I try, there are some things in life over which I have no control. I spent the next few hours staring out my window, hoping that by some act of grace, a FedEx truck would arrive.
Believe it or not, at around 5:30 p.m., a FedEx truck pulled up outside.
I ran downstairs to meet the driver who said, “Wow, you’re really lucky. We don’t usually make four delivery attempts, and we hardly ever deliver after 5:00, but for some reason, this package was on my truck, so I thought I’d try one last time to get it to you.” I wanted to hug him. I started to cry (which made him leave in a hurry!) and thanked him profusely. Within fifteen minutes, I’d booked a flight to Canada for the next day, where I was able to spend several days with my husband and his family.
What does all of this have to do with stress being a blessing in disguise?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how, when I moved to Boston, I’d decided to rent out my house back in Canada. I ended up having horrible tenants who stopped paying their rent, which was extremely stressful for my husband and me. We finally had the tenants evicted, at which point we discovered that they had done over $5,000.00 worth of damage to our house. The backyard no longer had grass (the lawn was entirely covered in six-foot high weeds); there was graffiti in the garage; our hardwood floors were clawed and chewed from the tenants’ dog; the carpets were ruined; and they had stolen our tools, fixtures, and furniture. We were furious and spent many sleepless nights either arguing over the situation or filling out legal paperwork. Ever since August, we’ve been trying to pay our rent in Boston and our mortgage back home, which is no easy feat considering the extremely high cost of living in Boston. To top it all off, we had to spend five weeks apart while my husband completely renovated our house and prepared to sell it.
At the end of that blog, I wrote, “I’m sure that after all of this is over, I’ll have a great story for you that shows exactly why I needed to sell my house and how it all worked out with perfect timing.”
Well, this blog is that story. Why? Because guess what else my husband was doing while he was away for five weeks? Spending every day with his mom. He made her breakfast every morning and kissed her on the cheek every night before bed. He helped her wash her hair. He took her to doctors’ appointments. They sat on her back porch overlooking lake Ontario and had long talks about life. He had a chance to ask her many questions that he’d always wanted to ask. When she got confused or scared, he comforted her.
Then, as she let out her final breaths, he whispered in her ear that we all loved her. He kissed her on the cheek one last time, and then he let her go.
If it wasn’t for us going through the stress of having horrible tenants, my husband would have been in Boston when his mother passed away. He wouldn’t have had a chance to spend very much time with her, and he would probably have regrets about it. And he wouldn’t have been there to help his mom pass in a way that was comfortable and perfect for her.
Also, if I hadn’t had so much stress at work, I wouldn’t have called in sick that day, which means I wouldn’t have been home to receive my passport. It would have gotten shipped back to Canada, and who knows when I would have received it.
I know it’s often said that hindsight is 20/20. In other words, some people might perceive this series of events as entirely coincidental. But, as I’ve said many times, I don’t believe in coincidences. I truly believe that by listening to my intuition and giving in to what my body and mind needed on that day, I was able to be present and available for a very important event in my family’s life.
So, the next time you feel like you can’t cope with all of the stress in your life, try to trust that everything is unfolding exactly as it’s meant to. If nothing else, stress helps you grow. It helps you become stronger. And I can guarantee you that, someday, perhaps soon, or maybe many years from now, you will look back and see exactly why you needed to go through what you’re going through right now. After all, you never know what miracles are waiting for you down the line.
Surrender to this moment and know that you are being guided along your perfect path.
@BethanyButzer (Click to Tweet!)
As musician David Gray says, “Who knows what’s waiting in the wings of time.”
What might be waiting for you?
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
*Image courtesy of willgallucci.com.