I received two pieces of bad news recently.
And I’m using the power of a preposition to get me through.
I remember learning about prepositions in the 8th grade. Mrs. Scarlett, my English teacher, described them as words that show how a bird might interact with a birdhouse. For example, a bird can fly to a birdhouse, under a birdhouse, through a birdhouse, near a birdhouse, around a birdhouse, etc. To, under, through, near and around are all prepositions. I still use the birdhouse analogy to teach my kids about prepositions. It’s not perfect, but it will get us the right answer at least 80% of the time.
I never really thought these little words would mean much to me, but this last month or so I have been noticing nuances in prepositions and how such a seemingly insignificant word can really change the meaning of a sentence or phrase. Prepositions even have the power to change our perspective and our attitudes.
My first piece of bad news came two weeks ago. Our landlord texted us and told us he wants to sell our house by the end of May. We have 15 months left on our rental agreement so his text really caught us off guard.
May is our busiest month. We will be traveling to Portland for my brother’s wedding and Chad will be traveling to Toronto and New York. We have two dance competitions, one recital, and one end of the year banquet. We have a minimum of ten baseball games, in addition to two baseball tournaments. We have Mother’s Day and Crew’s birthday. And I am charge of Croft’s book club in May.
As you can see, there is no way we want to be moving in May! My husband put on his boxing gloves and was ready to fight. To my own surprise, I was much more open to all the possibilities. I felt calm that it would all work out. I starting going over different scenarios in my mind and how I would handle them. Then the thought occurred to me, “Is this major inconvenience happening TO us or is it happening FOR us?”
The difference between TO and FOR in that question is more than just a difference in prepositions. It is a huge difference in perspective. ‘TO’ begets anger, resentment, and stress, while ‘FOR’ breeds gratitude, opportunity, and faith.
If this potential move is happening FOR us, then we look at this complication through a different lense: Maybe this house isn’t where we are supposed to be? Maybe there is a child molester across the street and God is saving us? Maybe the house is full of mold and that’s why I’ve been fatigued? Maybe my kids need friends from another neighborhood? Maybe we need to serve another ward? Or there is the scenario that maybe we are supposed to buy a house before we planned, before prices go up even more? Maybe we are supposed to buy this house? Maybe this is a financial blessing disguised as a stressful deadline?
I am choosing to see this life change as happening FOR us, rather than TO us. It’s making my days more bearable.
My second piece of bad news came around the same time as the moving news. I have not been feeling well for years, actually, and finally decided it must be what I was eating. I exercise regularly, sleep well, and only drink water. Food was the last culprit, so I went to get some testing done for food allergies.
As the practitioner tested me, the news got worse and worse. I was showing stress with gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and potato to name a few. Then she dropped the bomb that I was also allergic to corn and tomatoes which emotionally translates to NO chips and salsa! I was surprisingly still calm and together at this point, then she lowered the final blow: I was allergic to eggs! My beloved soft-boiled eggs for breakfast were gone. I went into a fog and don’t remember much else after that. I left the office with hunched shoulders, down spirits, and no idea what to eat.
In the week or so since I got the news that I shouldn’t eat anything that tastes good, I took the opportunity to check my prepositions. I asked myself again, “Are these food allergies happening TO me or FOR me?” And the reply was the same.
We all know we should eat healthier, but I have the blessing of having a good, pressing reason to make changes. My body is communicating to me loudly and clearly that she needs something different than I have been giving her. She is sticking up for herself instead of passively letting herself become toxic. In the end I will ultimately feel better, have more energy, and possibly live longer because I am being “forced” to eat differently.
I’ve determined these food allergies are happening FOR my best good.
I never knew in my 8th grade English class how powerful a preposition could be. I didn’t expect that noticing and changing one little word in my thought process would bring peace and hope into otherwise stressful situations, but it has.