I wrote a post last week about my observations of how we can increase or decrease our emotional bandwidth based on the way we move through life’s storms. If you missed it check it out here. The basic premise is that if you face the hurt and pain life throws at you head on without escaping or numbing…but standing face into the wind…you increase your ability to experience joy. Again, no academic backing to this but a lot of life lessons.
What I didn’t write about is HOW we stand in the storms. I am going to start a series on my blog called “Storm Survival” where every Wednesday I will write about what this has looked like for me practically. Its easy to say “stand” but a whole other thing to actually do it. And quite honestly “standing” is figurative there were several days I was actually curled up in bed because the thought of facing life that day was too overwhelming.
The first tool in my toolkit is the knowledge that you are not alone…honestly and truly God is with you…this just didn’t look like I expected it to look. And it definitely didn’t always feel like it. I chose to believe His promise that He would never “leave me or forsake me”…unfortunately most of the time this is more obvious in hind sight. And before you have “hind sight” you just have to trust that it’s true and that is very VERY hard. If I look back on this year and my gradual decent into the deepest valley I have ever walked through I can honestly say “You truly never left me”. Because if the timing or order of events had been changed (and they easily could have) I probably would have dropped off a cliff in free fall into the valley…splat on the bottom. The bottom of the valley was coming either way but the path I took to get there meant that I arrived upright and not Wile E Coyote flat as a pancake. But if I’m honest in the midst of the times when nothing made sense and everything seemed to be getting worse it was almost impossible to believe this was true.
I think sometimes Christians can have a very skewed perspective on how Jesus operates in our lives in the midst of these terribly difficult times. If we say Jesus is our “refuge” and “comfort” that doesn’t necessarily mean you will all of a sudden feel better. Eventually, yes. Immediately? Probably not. I’ve watched people try to force themselves to be joyful and hopeful even when they aren’t just because they feel like as Christians they should. What does hoping in Jesus mean when things feel black? Or when you’re disappointed? There are many resources on this subject I am just going to tell you what helped me.
- Give yourself permission to be exactly where you are at with God. Angry, doubtful, disappointed, grieving…just honest. I promise He can take it.
- I read Psalm 77 everyday…I wrote about it here. This seemed to reflect the emotional cycle I was caught in. Anger/Anxiety for (v1-6) Questions about whether God was even there or if he would keep his promises (v7-10) Then a moment of pause remembering who God is (v11-12) When you remember who he is then you are reminded you can trust his faithfulness and power (v13-20). But since I am human I didn’t remember for very long and the cycle would repeat. On the hardest days I felt like I was in a tumble dryer because I was constantly going around and around. Not anymore. Things will always get better.
- A prayer I would pray in the morning. “Jesus you told me that you are the healer and redeemer of my heart. I believe that. It is only by your power. Only you know the depth of my pain. My heart hurts to a level I didn’t know was possible. You see it. You feel it. I trust that you will heal it. Please give me strength for the process and grace for today.” And then…I made myself get out of bed.
- I reminded myself that I would never be given more than I could handle on any given day. There were days when I thought I had been pushed too far and I thought that God had severely over estimated me…but it was never too much. It easily could have been.