Hitting the “Pause” Button…

As I prepared to leave my 94½ year-old mother in Kentucky and return to California, she looked up at me and said, “I love you more than you’ll ever know.”

You might be thinking that’s nice, but what’s so special about that? Considering her only daughter is going home, and has no plans on when she will be returning, it’s only logical that a mom (especially in her later years of life) would tell her child how much she loves her.

The next morning, I awoke with a deep sense of peace that had not been there for quite some time. Accompanying that peace was a plethora of questions

  • What if our lives are pre-planned with Free Will as icing on the cake?
  • What if the “team” on the “other” side sits around a campfire creating a roadmap/plan designed to fill in the gaps after assessing our strengths, areas of development, and lessons needing to be learned?
  • What if the world is really a school where we come to learn?
  • What if members of our “team” volunteer to accompany us on our journey, and just like a Hollywood movie plot, there are good guys and bad guys?
  • What if the most loving supportive thing someone could do for us is to take on the role of a “bad guy” role… all the while knowing that it would be a thankless job, perhaps even a despicable role?

Would that translate into a person loving you more that you could ever know…

I know I came into this life with the need to learn: to grow spiritually; to learn patience; to judge less; to accept more; and to help others heal and grow.

How Can I Do It?

Whatever the learning, I see it as a process consisting of four steps:

  1. Recognize and articulate what needs to be learned.
  2. Identify roles and responsibilities. Who would be a mentor, guide, teacher?
  3. Define the experiences. What experiences are needed to ensure we “get the lesson?”
  4. And finally, Assess the learning – did we get it, and how do we know?

The idea of a team on the “other side” playing a role in your learning may seem pretty far-fetched.

But if you’ve hung in there with me, I want you to know I am not trying to change your beliefs. What I am doing is trying to present something in a different way that might cause you to think differently.

I hope I’ve given you reason to hit the “pause” button.

Sometimes the best learning comes from the hardest lessons. What if that person who played a “bad role” was not really a bad person, but rather someone whose role was to help you learn the lessons you needed to learn? Would that change your thoughts, feelings and actions toward this person?



As I look back on some of my own hardest lessons, I will admit that my first reaction has often been one of anger or resentment toward the person that I felt was responsible for, or at the core of the experience.

Even though I did not share my feelings outwardly, those feelings did churn in me and not only served no purpose, they actually hurt me and delayed my learning.

Later (sometimes much later), I realized the role of the individual and the impact that the lesson had on my growth. Sometimes their role was deliberate on their part, and others times they were the ‘tool” used in the learning process.

It’s a Mindset Thing.

What if you knew (upfront) that the person or people that played that “bad guy” in your learning experiences knew what they were doing?  What if they volunteered for the assignment so you could grow and develop?

Would that change how you felt about the person or how quickly you were able to move through the learning and become the next best version of yourself?

My challenge for you is this… the next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, maybe feeling resentful or angry, hit the “pause” button.

Ask yourself: what am I supposed to be learning?

Assume positive intent of those involved, and ask yourself where might this person coming from. What is the message I’m supposed to be getting?

Then think about the perspective I shared.

IF, just if … you knew that they agreed to play this role so that you could grow, develop and become the next best version of yourself, what would your feelings and actions be toward him or her?

In the words of Sara Paddison, “We are a big family of people, trying to make our way through the unfolding puzzle of life.”

In the infamous words of The Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends…I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

I believe with the help of others (friends or not), we will not only get through this (whatever this is) faster, quicker and easier, we will also be the better for it.

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