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What Now?By Awa Jangha
Something happens in life (whether good or bad) and often the next logical question is: What now? This immediate thought regarding what is next rushes in, many times giving little time to fully experience the moment.
The What Now in Good Life Experiences
In good life experiences we may have worked hard and finally achieves a goal, received an unexpected gift, enjoyed sacred quality time with family and our community, or simply have entered a moment when we felt God’s love and presence. In these times the desire is often to want to soak in the moment, being fully present while also being grateful for the experience. Yet, there can be the covert thief that arrives to steal or shorten this time of enjoyment by asking the question: “What now?” This question is not a value laden question (it’s neither good or bad), but the timing of it can push us towards missing the fullness of life’s good experiences. Basking in the good times of life can serve as a means of self-care. We can use all of our senses to enjoy these times and find a sense of joy that we can take with us in the next phase of our life journey. This is important.
The What Now in Difficult Life Experiences
In difficult life experiences we may have performed poorly, been let down by our neighbors when they dismissed our point of view, lost a loved one (due to death, an argument, relocation), or simply have not felt God’s presence. We each experience pain and disappointment, whether it be social, financial, spiritual, emotional, physical, or mental pain. The tempting question of “What now?” can rise promptly in these difficult experiences and can preempt us from gaining the knowledge of what can be learned from the experience. I do not know anyone who desires difficult life experiences. A natural reaction to hard times is to figure a way out, stop the pain, and fix the problem. Yet, if we short circuit the natural progression of the experience, we may find ourselves re-experiencing the difficulty in another event, format, or experience. Once given time to fully experience difficult moments, we may be surprised to realize the strength and resiliency that lies within us. Finding the internal resources that God has gifted us to face difficult times can better equip us to take action once we get to the point of asking, “What now?”
With the proper time allotted, the question “What now?” can be quite useful. In life’s good experiences it can help us to seek God’s direction for the next part of our lives. It can serve as a seed of ambition to pursue or continue walking in our purpose. It can even inspire us to pay it forward by gracing others with good life experiences that are life affirming. In life’s difficult experiences, the question “What now?” can jump start a reflection of the lessons we have learned from the experience. It can be a catalyst for growth and seasoned maturity. It can draw us closer, calling us towards trust in God to guide our steps, heal our hurts, and provide what is needed.
When life happens, feel the moment. Big events quickly slow us down and catch our attention, inviting us to be present (i.e. disappointment or elation from an election, graduation, death of a loved one, birth of a loved one, etc.). It is important to also pay attention to the smaller everyday moments of life that offer opportunities of joy and/or growth (i.e. a good joke, traffic, delicious food, challenging assignments, etc.). The counselor in me encourages you to feel these moments (knowing you will not be overrun by them), learn from these moments, share in celebration of these moments, and once you have sufficiently done that, then inquire: What now?
What have you learned from a recent difficult life experience? What strengths did you utilize to walk through that experience?
What recent good life experience fed your spirit? What did you enjoy most about it?
Take a moment…. What now?
Dr. Awa Jangha is Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at Seminary of the Southwest. She earned a PhD from Loyola University Maryland in Pastoral Counseling (a Counselor Education and Supervision program). Before moving to Austin, Dr. Jangha served in private practice in Washington DC, where she integrated art therapy with pastoral counseling. Her research interests include multicultural competency, counselor training and supervision, identity development, and arts based research.
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