When I was young, I used to have quite a fiery temper. When things didn’t go the way I wanted, I would lash out in my anger and frustration. As I’ve gotten older, I realize it was because of my inflated ego, thinking I was undeserving of hardship, or embarrassed by my unpreparedness or lack of knowledge.
I do still hope for the best, but I now also prepare (mentally and emotionally) for the worst, all the while keeping in mind that a fallen tree in my path is an opportunity to grow in patience and to exercise prudence. It’s a “hopeful realist” approach to the challenges of life, keeping my feet grounded while looking up to God.
Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; […] It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.—CCC 1806
God permitted that tree to fall, so He is permitting me to take an alternate path. There must be some good to be gleaned from it, then, this new and unexpected experience. That tree may also have been barring me from walking off a cliff.
I try to apply this perspective in every aspect of life in this 21st century world, whether it’s an upset customer, unexpected traffic, or a sudden illness. “What is the lesson to learn here?” is what I pray. The unexpected can be the tremor that happens to shake us out of our spiritual monotony, and into a mindset and heartset more oriented to God.