On a cloudy February morning, I headed to the church where I was scheduled to teach two workshops for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference.

My morning protein shake sat in the cup holder. I’d consumed half of it and decided to finish it in the car. The powdered protein tends to sink to the bottom of the cup, requiring me to either drink it in one fell swoop, or shake, drink, shake, and drink.

The lid was secure, or so I thought. At a stoplight, I shook the container. As it turns out, the lid wasn’t on all the way. Chocolate protein shake spattered across the interior of the car, including on my slacks and shoes.

That wasn’t supposed to happen!

In March of last year, I started a new position as a branch manager at a bank. My job description was to do outside business development, growing the commercial loans and deposits. Seven months later, it was announced that my branch would be closing in three months. I was offered a different position, and everything looked like it would turn out for the best.

A new position and a new workplace (a lot further from my home). And a new, demanding boss. Stress built until I began to have panic attacks every time she called me into her office.

That wasn’t supposed to happen!

Everyone faces the challenge of messed up, mixed-up, situations where things don’t turn out like they are supposed to.

The question is: what do you do?

In my chocolate-on-the-car-and-pants incident, I mopped up as best as I could, then made a joke out of it in my workshop. “Look at me! I’m teaching a class and I’m a klutz!”

The second situation, however, has caused me a tremendous amount of angst. Here’s where it gets real. This isn’t something I can wipe off with a joke. Tears, prayers, more tears, and still no relief.

My friends advised me to quit my job and get a different job. Sounds logical. But I wanted to go deeper. Was I supposed to learn from this? If so, what? I didn’t want to miss anything God was doing. I had to examine my heart to see if I refused to submit to my boss’s demands. Was I working as diligently as I could? Were the job demands reasonable?

Three months later I’m still no closer to resolution. It would be nice if I could receive an answer carved into two stone tablets like Moses coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments. Somebody, please tell me what to do!

Should I quit my job and find another? Go back and suck it up buttercup? Everyone has a different answer.

What I’ve found is when I’m in a situation that is so difficult and so painful I can hardly breathe, that’s when I press in closer to God. I read in James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (NIV)

Look at me – I’m smiling through my tears as I persevere, waiting for direction.

That was supposed to happen.

Jane S. Daly is the author of two nonfiction books and five novels.

Jane is addicted to coffee, purple pens, and her husband, not necessarily in that order. A self-proclaimed introvert, she enjoys the solitude of riding shotgun in Rigsby, her 37-foot motor home. But when they pull into a new campground, her favorite thing is to make new friends and find hangouts featuring local musicians. Her fantasy involves writing lyrics for country music songs and hearing them played on the radio. In the meantime, she’ll stick to writing novels. And seeing as much of the country as possible.