Growing up in the coastal farming town of Watsonville, California I had my days filled with school, bike/horseback riding, chores on our 54 acre apple ranch, church activities, sandy days at the beach, and time spent with my parents and 5 sisters.
From the time I was 6 to the ripe old age of 20 (when I headed off to college) we lived on the same property. My life had a sense of consistency, regularity, and security. I’m not sure if I ever really took the time to fully consider how my life would unfold in the years ahead.
I have had the privilege to live a truly wonderful, experience-filled life for which I am very, very grateful. However, there have been changes and challenges that showed up unexpectedly leaving me completely overwhelmed. From Marriage to parenting, numerous home/city moves, family challenges, occupational changes, and unexpected tragedies I have often felt caught off-guard and ill-prepared.
I have had amazing conversations with so many great women who have found themselves over-whelmed by the situations that have come into their lives as well. Like me, many have faced numerous unanticipated challenges and have often wondered if they have the strength to navigate the challenge well.
At 54, I have enough hindsight to understand that this is what life truly is. Life is a mixed bag of joy and sadness, celebration and challenge. Every season is different and requires a few key elements to strengthen us along the way:
1. Knowing and trusting that God will not leave us in the midst of an over-whelming season but rather He will give us strength, wisdom, and comfort.
2. Being surrounded by people we love and trust: our spouses, healthy family members, and hand-picked friends whom we trust. Facing challenges in isolation can be devastating. Fight the urge to withdraw; stay connected.
3. Doing all we can to care for our health: rest, good food, exercise, reading, time in nature~~ intentionally choosing cup-filling activities to keep our emotions above water.
4. Taking time to Journal. We don’t always feel strong, We don’t always feel full of hope. Over the years my journals have been filled with prayers and thankfulness but they have also been full of honest questions, doubts, fears, and tears. Simple honesty has helped to diffuse my emotions.
5. Keeping balanced in our perspectives. Often times when challenges come we lose sight of all that is still good and right. We can find ourselves getting caught in fear and negativity. In hard times it helps if we can try to focus on the good growth we are experiencing. I have never walked through a tough season without gaining greater empathy for others, being stretched in my faith, and having a chance to mature in my own character.
Consider your pattern when challenges come. How do you respond? How well have you navigated tough situations in the past? I hope that this simple “conversation” gives you some fresh tools to stand strong when unexpected changes come!
I love this verse!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:6