The same is true of life, business, culture, faith, and the economy.
That is why economic downturns may also be opportunistic upturns.
That is why the long view of life and business must allow for interruptions of the unexpected and invasions of the unanticipated. The best bet in life is to anticipate what cannot be predicted and to learn to wait it out, flow with it, and celebrate it.
We need a plan that connects to our purpose that transcends passing details of our lives. We need a vision that is independent of our circumstances and durable enough to endure crises and complications.
What, then, happens in a spasm? It can be a life crisis, a tragedy, a hardship, and economic upset, a setback, a change in the landscape of our culture, a demographic shift or any sudden change which presents a critical moment in which we must respond or just give up.
Spasms have some characteristics.
S = Stability Shaken - Something that we are leaning on gives way. Something we rely upon for balance is no longer steady enough to steady us, our methods, or our strategies. The opportunity here is for reeVALUation - which means taking a new look at what is of greatest VALUE. Realignment is necessitated and that can be a very good thing because of the drift that inevitably makes us comfortable and complacent in our assumptions. Times change and so do strategies. It often takes a crisis or spasm to shake our stability and get us back on track. Principles never change, but life and methodology do.
P = Priorities Challenged - A challenge does not equate with a defeat. It is a test. Again, we are subject to drift and there is a disturbing tendency for praxis to assert itself in first place above agreed upon priorities. Spasms challenge us to examine our practices and reconnect with our priorities. Ultimately, real priorities are reflected in budgets and calendars whether or not these are our stated or desired priorities. Spasms are a correction in this way. One priority-related spasm question might be: Is this REALLY something I MUST do?
A = Activities Change - Sometimes this is the result of a spasm, sometimes, when the change is beyond our control, it is the cause. An unexpected sickness, a new responsibility, or a decision by someone or some entity, perhaps even a change in the bus schedule can cause an activity generated spasm in our lives. What we do every day and when we do it is important, but it is not definitive in our lives and businesses. Activity is supportive, not directive. It make take some reflection, reorientation, and equilibrium restoration, but you CAN survive a change of activity.
S = Two things: (A) Stuff Happens and (B) Success is redefined. You can't help stuff happening. It does. It is neutral. Any event or circumstance can cause any number of reactions or, more pro-actively on our part, prompt any number of responses. You choose. In the process, you redefine the measuring instruments for evaluating your success. this happens predictably as you pass through the stages of life, business, and ministry. We underestimate the affects of aging on our sense of self, purpose, and achievement. We negate the power of contingencies to make us stop and think. Suddenly we see things from a different perspective and part of that rethinking is the way we view and measure success.
M = Management Restored - One given in any sort of spasmodic crisis is the need to return to some sort of stability and to restore personal and corporate management of our day to day activities. Neither revival nor recession can be sustained indefinitely. They have their purposes, but no purpose to leave us in a perpetual state of chaos. Let them do their work and as they do, let us dream new dreams, renew old dreams, and build new strategies. As we do, let us put our lives and businesses in order again and re-initiate the discipline of sound management.
Some things never change. Put change at the top of that list. Life is a dynamic force, centered in enduring principles and flexible enough to change colors and contexts regularly without altering it essential nature in the least. God is truth and through truth, God governs the universe. Everything else is subject to flux and spasm.
Enjoy the ride.