The Theory of Structural Obstacles can get one through a multitude of life’s disappointments. Structural obstacles are situations in life where you have no choice but to change course. I’m not talking about the kind of course change where your doctor says, “If you don’t give up the Krispy Kremes and the Diet Pepsi, you’ll go to an early grave.” That course change was brought about by your own choices. No, I’m talking about the kind of course change that nothing you did, do, or could do would matter.
Some examples are your plane can’t take off because of bad weather and you miss your connecting flight; the City informs you they’re removing all the old growth trees in front of your house to make a sidewalk; you’re one of fifty people let go on the job; the love of your life marries someone else; you’re not able to have children; ; the list is really endless.
Those sound like bad things, I know. And I’m not saying they’re great. I’m saying someone is trying to tell you something. I’m saying God is showing you what the target isn’t. God has a better target in mind. A target you can’t hit if you catch your flight, keep your trees, keep your job, marry the love of your life, or have oodles of kids.
Even when you get exactly what you want, if may not be the right target. Even if you marry the love of your life, God can still have a different target in mind. Six kids later there’s a divorce or pornography or an affair. Or maybe what you wanted was God’s target for a while, but he changed the target as you evolved and needed something more fine-tuned.
This can be the hardest structural obstacle to bear because you get what you want, but what you want from it doesn’t happen. Or you get what you want, but it doesn’t last. You can delude yourself into thinking that if you try a little harder, wait a little longer, be a little more patient, all your dreams will come true. The heaviness of bitterness when they don’t can be an albatross around your neck. It’s easy to slip into blaming yourself for the structural obstacle (which is really just a way of pretending you had control when you didn’t) so it’s much harder to shake regret or disappointment. Still…as with everything else…think outside the disappointment box.
What event, person, lesson, opportunity or blessing came about only because you were forced to change course? What new path opened up in life that could only have come from getting what you want and still not having what you thought it would bring you? No matter the cause of the structural obstacle, there’s always the real target, the God target; we just need to look for it. Of course we would rather have the flight, the trees, the job, the love, or the children. Or maybe we got the job, the love, or the children, and it wasn’t at all what we thought it would be.
So … no matter the reason behind the disappointment, take as long as you need to let go of the dream. And recognize that it can take a very long time when you got what you wanted but it didn’t take you where you wanted it to go.
But when you’re ready, get a little excited. Structural obstacles are treasures in disguise. Even those disappointing ones where you got what you wanted and still feel unfulfilled. When you’re ready, let God’s dream come to you. While you’re at it, pray to know God’s dream for your life. Risk letting Him guide you to something you don’t think you want, or something you absolutely do not want. Risk trusting that a life where He guides you closely is the thing that you want most of all.
And as always, keep swimming.