In Praise of Obstacles


I read two statements this week that have stayed with me: from the Deepak Chopra website – “Obstacles are opportunities  in disguise.”, and from the Facebook application On This Day God Wants You to Know – “Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you become quiet and listen to God. You’ve learned how to talk and ask well. Time to learn how to listen and hear, because God has been answering you.”.

At first blush these two statements don’t seem connected.  What I have learned is that they are directly related.

It seems that for most of us, when we encounter an obstacle, or things aren’t playing out the way we want them to, we pray for the discomfort or unpleasantry to be removed or to cease.  What might happen if instead we meditated?  What if we thanked God for bringing the issue to our attention?  Then took time to ask what opportunity is being presented to us?

It is easy to be grateful for the “good” things.  For happy times.  How often are we appreciative to be “stuck” in traffic, delayed at the airport, or receive a speeding ticket?  A recent article by John Vanderbilt, In Praise of Traffic Tickets, indicates that a recent study in New York City found when speeding citation reduced by 11%, traffic fatalities increased by the exact same percentage.  How many of us, after having received a ticket, begin, at least for a while, to pay more attention to our speed and generally take traffic laws more seriously?  What if that extra degree of care and attention actually prevented us from a serious accident that we otherwise would have been in?  Just the possibility that this could be true is enough to make me rethink my reactions to circumstances and events that I typically consider to be obstacles.

Thinking about this has made me very aware of how I judge the world around me, as if on autopilot.  I get impatient as the person in front of me at the self-check out talks on the phone while she is scanning her purchases.  I snarl at the person who passes me on the shoulder in traffic.  I have let an obnixious remark from my15 year old spoil my mood for the entire day.

I been working to catch myself in these moments and ask where the opportunity might be in these obstacles.  Maybe if I had used the longer wait in the checkout line to review my list of needed items, I would have remembered to buy the dish detergent.  If I had been paying more attention to the driver behind me, I might have noticed he was in a hurry and I could have moved over to let him pass.  If I was looking for Gods gift in Kenneth’s response, I might have gone to give Kenneth a hug (that his resistance indicates he really needs) and we both would have felt loved, respected and grateful.

It will take vigilance to monitor my thoughts and to consciously decide how to react to the large and the small, the “good” and the “bad” life experiences that I am so blessed to be granted.  I think this may be the best way to hear Gods answers.  I believe that it will be worth the effort. 

copyrighted 8/31/09

One Response

  1. What a wonderful outlook! I do try (the key word is “try”) to step back at times and look at the bigger picture. The person driving slow in front of me may be on the way to the doctor for a diagnosis they don’t want to hear… the older couple taking their time in the shopping aisle at Christmas may know it will be their last Christmas together..
    It takes discipline to stop and listen to what God is trying to tell us.. but I will always keep trying.
    Thank you Meg!

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