We have all been there. Overwhelmed by problems that wash over us like giant waves. Our feet fly out from under us and we long for solid ground. Seasons of crisis are challenging, but they also serve to strengthen us if we let them. Read on to learn how you can not only survive, but actually leverage great difficulties and trade them in for joy.
Is it just me, or does anyone else have appliances that only break on Christmas Eve and then only if another appliance breaks at the same time? What is up with that? Living in a parsonage (church owned housing for clergy) this happened pretty routinely. What made that situation really interesting is that you have to go through a committee to get anything repaired. I mean literally anything. Ahhh..Good times.
Our lives can often seem like appliances in a parsonage; barely working, depleted, and nearly impossible to get repaired once they've broken down. Very often one disaster is followed by another until you are juggling difficulties like a circus performer.
People and circumstances you have relied on fail from one moment to the next. You experience a betrayal within your family or friend circle. Your only car needs hundreds of dollars in repair. Finances keep you awake at night. Your child's teacher calls. (why don't they ever call with good news?) Your supervisor is suddenly finding fault with your work after four years of good service. People you've been kind to return your kindness with scorn and abuse. What is this all about? Is there no joy left to be found? Why is this happening?
I have had seasons exactly like this. It is as if all the bad things that can happen across a few years happen in two weeks. I fairly recently spent four years exactly like this. It was indescribable. And there was no escape from the anguish. That was not the first time either. So I know what I'm talking about. No one lives a charmed life. Even in a Harbor Home.
You can and you will survive. Not only survive, you can thrive. Those horrible seasons when you are spiraling the drain grasping with your bare hands for something solid to hold will, if you allow them to, transition you to a place of victory. You can rise to a higher plane than you ever had known before. Believe me. I have done this.
I hope you are a faster learner than I am, because it took two major, trauma filled experiences each lasting a few years before I figured out how to overcome and find the power within me. The power I found allowed me to soar above challenges and turn them into events that catapulted me to a higher place of confidence, serenity, compassion, knowledge, and self awareness.
There is a deep and abiding faith element to this kind of triumphant recovery. I would not have experienced such a far reaching victory if it had not been for the sure and certain truth of Jesus Christ in my life. But my faith is irrelevant to your situation. Whatever the faith of your people, dive deep into it. Find that element of faith that is inside of each human. Connect to God. We are all spiritual beings experiencing a human life. Let your faith begin to cover every aspect of your life. Each day. This is an integral part of getting out of the vortex that is pulling you down into the depths of life crisis. Hold fast to your faith.
Besides this, there are many practical things you can do to gain control as you move through a deeply challenging time such as divorce, betrayal, loss, etc. Here are some thoughts:
Gain control over your diet. Choose healthy, light foods. Resist the powerful urge to over eat or to binge on junk. Twinkies will only make things worse. Seriously.
Gain control over your drinking. More water, less wine. Alcohol contributes to making poor decisions and saying things you regret. Keep your head about you.
Gain control over your environment. When you are tempted to curl up on the couch and binge watch reruns of Scooby Doo cartoons, get up and make yourself clean your home. Throw out useless or excess stuff. Wash windows and baseboards. Scrub the tub or shower. A clean and tidy living space is so much more comfortable and far less stressful. You will also have a strong sense of control. Trust me on this. It works.
Gain control over your companions. Do you have "friends" that are negative, critical, bossy, or tactless? Trade them in on some real friends. Friends who speak words of encouragement and hope will lift you up instead of reminding you what a bad situation you are in. Find a group that will cheer you on. Find a positive crowd.
Gain control over your schedule. When you are struggling, make sure you are getting enough rest and make it at a consistent time. Set a bedtime and a wakeup time. Set meal times. Set times for work and times for play. Your body and mind thrive on good quality routines.
Gain control over your social media. Unfriend absolutely everyone even loosely connected to your crisis. Reading their comments or noting what posts they "like" can be a heart rending experience if they seem to be taking a position that is counter to your best interests. I once unfriended at least thirty people in one day and blocked many total strangers that were making unkind comments that hurt me. People love to engage in social media drama, especially if it has no bearing on their own lives. Find that unfriend button and go to town with it.
Most importantly, Gain control over your thoughts. This is the beginning of all healing. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 Your thoughts will either inspire you to keep going or drive you to deeper despair. Become the master of your thoughts.
I want to emphasize here that I am not speaking out of ignorance or a Suzy Sunshine place of rainbows and confetti. I have had some very dark times and these steps were truly the acts of control that I took to gain a foothold on the path to happier days.
You can not control your ex spouse, your boss, your ex spouses new spouse, your parents, your siblings or anyone else. But you can control your own actions and thoughts. Choose healthy ones. Be your own best friend and hero. Save yourself by using good judgement, making major decisions only after seeking wise counsel from trusted village elders, and being level headed. Flying off in anger and frustration over your situation will only dig you in deeper.
Know that you are loved and that the times that try your soul will pass and you will be stronger and, maybe, a bit wiser. I know that I was.