Aunt Vernie was my favorite aunt, and I loved her very much. She had bad knees all her life. In her last couple of years, she sat on a spring-loaded cushion, which made it easier for her to stand. As she began to rise, the cushion’s tension pushed her upward so that she put less pressure on her knees.

I was her “favorite” nephew and executor, so after my uncle passed away, I visited her often. On one visit to her nursing-home room, I saw the spring-loaded cushion sitting on the floor and asked why she wasn’t sitting on it.

She said someone needed to reset it. Being the good nephew, I said, “I can do that,” then grabbed the cushion and reset the spring. Then I helped her up, and she sat back on the cushion. We finished our visit, and I felt good knowing I helped her.

Later in the evening, my phone rang. The caller identified herself as the evening nurse where my aunt lived. She said, “I need to update you about your aunt.”

Then she started laughing.

Then I heard my aunt laughing.

It took a couple of minutes for them to regain their composure and tell me what happened.

My aunt was sitting on the spring-loaded cushion (the one I had just reset) when she leaned over to tie her shoe. The cushion launched her out of the chair onto the floor, where the staff found her. Fortunately, she found the whole thing funny—and then so did the caretakers!

In resetting the cushion for her, I didn’t adjust it to her weight (about 110 pounds), but set it to the maximum — for someone over 250 pounds!

That little movement forward to tie her shoes launched my aunt out of the chair.

Most of us are like my aunt. Just like she preferred the tension of the cushion to slowly help her rise at a pace she was ready for, we want to control the pace of change.

But I’ve learned that rarely happens in life. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We might like it slow and controlled, but sometimes God allows us to be launched into the unknown due to circumstances we don’t control. That’s life. Some examples of this could be:

  • A sudden change in the health of an aging parent.
  • Your immediate supervisor leaves the organization.
  • Your company is sold.
  • Your health changes.
  • Your job is eliminated.

I’ve learned over the years that I hate the unexpected launch, but when I look back, it was in those circumstances that I learned and grew the most. I’m a better person today because of those experiences.

In those unexpected launches, we often feel overwhelmed. When we are, some positive things happen:

  • We realize we need help and can’t do it “by ourselves,” so we humble ourselves and ask for help.
  • We become better at listening to the wisdom of others.
  • We get closer to God because we are having regular conversations with Him.
  • We learn because we haven’t had the experience before.

I have two pieces of advice regarding launches.

  1. If you are resetting a spring-loaded cushion for an elderly relative, make sure you set it correctly to their weight.
  2. When you get launched into the unknown, remember God is with you. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow!
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