We all experience ups and downs in our lives. We all walk through good seasons and challenging seasons. Often times we’ve made choices that have ended up having negative results and we’ve had to walk it out. For many of us unexpected losses, a job, marriage, the stock market, sickness, etc. have “happened upon us” and it takes a lot of courage to keep moving forward with hope.
However, there are times when our lives can feel like they’ve blown up! Challenges and changes can come with such intensity that we are left with heavy dread and hopelessness. It’s easy to get into a downward plunge that can emotionally spiral out of control.
You may be thinking, “Wow! I’ve never really felt that way” or you may be thinking “I’m in that season right now”.
Almost 9 years ago when my Nephew was murdered I was ill prepared for the emotional trauma that would follow for my sister, my family, but also for me personally at so many levels. My church theology I had believed all my life that If you prayed for your family no harm will come to them was completely shattered. The depth of sadness took me to a really dark place that felt too heavy to bear. My outlook, in the midst of that season was new to me and with all my counseling and coaching experience I had zero answers for myself.
I have friends whom, right at this moment are going through a “life tsunami” that feels dark, hopeless, and incredibly uncertain. I ache for the process they are walking through because there is no magic wand to turn it all around.
There are some really key elements that are important for all of us whether we are walking through a hard season or what feels like a tsunami and I’d like to encourage you with a few:
- Don’t isolate yourself! None of us are great at cheerleading ourselves in tough times. We tend to be hard on ourselves and negative in our outlook. WE NEED GOOD PEOPLE especially in these times.
- Choose to forgive well-meaning friends or family who are clumsy in their efforts to be a source of encouragement. Statements like “Oh, I know just how your feel” can sound like nails on a chalkboard! Try to see their heart in their clumsy efforts and don’t become angry.
- Take care of yourself! Rest, exercise, eat good food, don’t over medicate with alcohol, be careful about what you watch, read, and listen to (a lot of stuff available to us can be dark and emotional which is not helpful) and find cup-filling activities that can give you joy even in the midst of an over-whelming season.
- Find someone to talk to. Find counselor, a coach, a trusted spiritual advisor. Journal your thoughts and try to find 3 things to be grateful for every day no matter how small they might be.
- Lastly, don’t be mad at God. I hear this so often and even said it myself during my darkest time “Where were you?” “Why didn’t you change the outcome? “ “But, I’ve trusted you and tried to be a good person!!” These comments and more feel very real at the time but they are not truth. We do have a God who cares deeply for us and wants to walk with us and comfort us in our darkest moments. We live in a world where there is illness, hateful people, tragedies that affect everyone on the planet! But, if we lose hope in God and separate ourselves from Him in anger or distrust we will miss the very comfort and hope we are longing for.
You may have a shattered faith, or have never had any kind of a trust in God and I am not assuming all my readers do. All I can pass on to you is what I’ve learned and experienced; the only way I climbed out of one of my darkest seasons was by the strength, hope, and kindness of God and I would be amiss to give you tidbits of good ideas and then leave out the greatest source of hope and healing I have ever known.
Seasons of challenge can be very real. To all of us in a season of calm; extend your hand and heart to help carry someone in a life tsunami. Don’t judge.
There’s a verse that I love. It’s a tough one to read in the midst of an overwhelming season but it’s beautiful to read it in hindsight and know it is true.
“When you pass through the waters I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire (of life) you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”