This year has been especially difficult for me, in fact one of the hardest that I’ve had to live through thus far. I have, of course had friends and family to speak to, dole out an endless supply of hugs, spend time with or confide in when needed but I continued to feel quite isolated and alone in it all many times. The realization that ultimately that thing, event, life circumstance is all yours to deal with can be crushing as you wonder how you will survive the aftermath. It’s tough and no matter how many times someone says they feel your pain, they don’t, because it’s your pain. No one else can cry your tears and in the end you are going to have deal with your internal struggles yourself.
This lesson I learned as my life pretty much crashed around me with a series of unfortunate events and diagnoses because I was (and still am) trying to make sense of it all. It was so bad that I had no desire to do life any longer, I didn’t want to talk to people, write or go to work or class, I honestly just wanted to stay in bed and let life pass me by. But I knew I couldn’t and life pushed forward so with a sometimes forced happy face I had to as well.
James tells us that when we encounter events that test our resolve and tribulations that torment us to count it all joy, but how? (James 1) How are you grateful for the loss of a loved one, a diagnosis of cancer or the abandonment of divorce? How are you grateful for that perverbial empty hole you have over a great loss or a transformational life shift? I have to apologize in advance because I don’t have all of the answers, but I can tell you what helped me get through some tough times this year and in the end give thanks for the realizations that came with them.
When you feel abandoned know that you are never alone: There were people that I thought I could beyond a shadow of a doubt depend on when the chips were down and although most proved to be dependable some showed me who they were & where they decided to stand in my life. I found the sting of resentment rising up in my spirit against the latter, but I had to understand that everyone doesn’t have the capacity to love (I mean truly love) or to exhibit that love in a manner that’s recognizable to you. And this doesn’t make them bad people, it just makes them unenlightened people. Either way God will always be in our corner, so some nights when I cried into my pillow I would turn my tears into prayers. Times when I was loneliest I decided to turn to God and read from His word, it really did make me feel better. Thank God for people who you can call true friends but ultimately for God and the fact that He never leaves your side!
Don’t perpetuate more grief by focusing on what’s wrong: There were times when I felt so down that my self talk was truly coming from a negative place because it was as if the bad news came back to back. I truly felt under attack, and it can be quite difficult to pull yourself out of the spiraling world of negativity, but even in the midst I would have to remind myself to focus on the positive aspects of a situation. Someone in my family was diagnosed with cancer, but they are still here and we could love on them even more than before, so for that I’m grateful. Life is but a vapor and sometimes the sting of the reality of death seems to wake people up to the fact that we aren’t here forever. Thank God for the knowledge and wisdom to live in the moment and appreciate the good things in life and the people in our lives while we have the time to do so.
Focusing on others takes the pain away: even if just for a moment. While going through some things in my life I was a bridesmaid in a wedding I noticed that although we would spend some time focused on my circumstances, I was much happier to talk to her about the wedding or help her with planning. It made me feel good to forget for a moment that my life wasn’t all fairy tales and sugarplums. Getting your mind off of you and being less selfish will help you in dealing with your issues. Of course we will have times where wallowing can’t be helped as we are human but being less self-centered and caring for others is a great way to start to shift your mindset. Thank God for recognizing that selfishness only leads to increased loneliness and for opportunities to be a light in someone else’s world if only for a moment.
You will emerge from the fire: knowing that there is another side to the anguish you feel is priority. Most likely you will emerge stronger that before, I truly believe the adage that whatever doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. Even if we feel as though we have nothing to be thankful for presently, we can praise Him in advance for blessings to come! Thank God for challenges in life that grow us up and make us stronger and more like him.
Be careful what you ask for: I remember saying a prayer just before I received some of the bad news for God to increase my faith because I wanted a faith like Sarahs, like David’s and Abraham. I told God that whatever had to be done to do so and not long after the punches started to roll in. Now, am I saying that it’s a result of that prayer, I don’t know. But I do know that we receive test from God and we receive trials from satan, either way our response is the same and that’s to pray and pray some more while keeping focused on the optimal outcome and pushing towards Yahweh. But with anything in life, be it kids, a degree or an increased faith walk, make sure you’re prepared to work for it and navigate your way through the test as best you can. Thank God for answered prayers and the strength, fortitude and ability to pass the test that sometimes come along with them.