There are moments in life where time stands still. Moments in the routine when something stops you in
your tracks and you face your greatest fears. Suddenly, things that seemed so important recede into the
background and you see with a new perspective. I recently had one of those heart-stopping experiences.
My daughter is an excellent student, a competitive western equestrian, and a worship leader. On
horseback, she has earned a spot in her national championships for the past several years and has placed
nationally in her category. She plays guitar and piano in worship bands at church and school and leads
the bands with poise and grace. If you are a parent, you know the feeling of “bursting with pride.”
Recently, while at a routine riding lesson, my daughter had a freak accident and severely injured her hand. My wife took the call, and I immediately knew something was wrong. When my wife said, “…so part of your finger is OFF? Call 911,” time stood still. I was filled with panic and dread. We met the paramedics at the ranch, and they told us to take her to the local trauma center. I followed my wife and daughter in my daughter’s car after calling ahead to the hospital. By the time I arrived, they were inside, but due to the pandemic, I could not go in. Suddenly, the same restrictions that I had to place on our senior living campus were impacting me. I was barely holding it together. As someone who is typically in control, I felt lost without a way to make the situation better. I started having incredibly negative thoughts. Will she be able to play instruments again? Will she be scared to ride? How will she feel about pictures of her left hand one day when she gets engaged?
She is now recovering from surgery and is currently unable to ride or play her guitar and piano. Recently,
while my wife and I were lamenting these losses, my daughter said something so poignant and mature
that I was stopped short in amazement. She replied that while these are activities she enjoys, they are
not her identity. She is still who she has always been. I’m still struck by the depth of thought and feeling
from my teenager. She is completely right, and her outlook is admirable. She knows she’s not defined by
her talent on horseback or her musical abilities. She is much more than that. Through my daughter’s
perspective, I am re-learning some important lessons. Day-to-day matters I once felt were so pressing
feel different considering this situation and this has led me to some reflection.
1. Our work and our hobbies do not define who we are.
If you did not have your work, how would you define yourself? Are you kind and compassionate?
Are you giving? Are you pensive and thoughtful? Are you artistic, intellectual, or observant? How
do you use your talents and gifts to find fulfillment in life? What is it you bring to your work as a
unique individual? This makes me consider that I have, at times, tried to be someone else
because I thought that was what was expected of a CEO. I neglected to realize that I create that
role for my organization through who I am.
2. Always focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.
I have heard people say “this is all I know how to do” related to their work. My daughter has
started wondering if her injury is leading her to minister differently and is even changing her
view on future college studies. She may get back to music and riding, but she is seeing other
opportunities and considering possibilities rather than restrictions. What a gift it is to look
forward this way! What are some activities you’d like to do? Go learn more!
3. Sometimes things change, and that is okay.
Most people dislike change. Change, however, happens every day. When external forces change,
we can choose to adapt, or we can lament our loss. Adapting leads to a positive outlook and
fulfillment. How can you see a recent change in your life as a positive experience? How will you
capitalize on that?
4. Whenever God closes a door, He always opens a window.
This is a line from the movie classic The Sound of Music, and it’s always stuck with me. Having an
open-minded perspective allows us to see change in an adaptive way. Have you experienced a
roadblock in life recently? Where is that leading you? What exciting possibilities can you see?
Even through the pain and healing, my daughter is seeing windows open all around her. She is
strong and independent and will take the path that is right for her.
5. Stop living in the past when there is a gigantic future to discover.
When outside forces work against you, it is common to look back fondly on a life you enjoyed,
whether it was a hobby you liked or a job you found fulfilling. Focusing on what was, however,
can only lead to regret and joylessness. When something stops you in your tracks, how do you
react? Beyond what you are doing now, where do you see yourself headed? What is something
new you can explore?
When you are anxious over an upcoming meeting or fretting over budget variances, consider your
perspective. Your work is important, but so are family, health, and life. As I settle back into my work
routine, suddenly the complaints about paint colors, staff disagreements, and event scheduling conflicts
seem far less important than they were. My daughter’s resilience as she looks to a wide-open future
shows me that I, too, can be bolder and more visionary. Her faith and perseverance have inspired me.
I now plan to cherish the truly important moments I have for as long as I can.