So, you’re having a tough day. Maybe a difficult month, year, or decade. And perhaps you’re depressed and wondering, “How did I end up here? What the Sam Hill is happening?!”
I’m sorry. Truly. I’m in a rough season myself right now, and I feel your pain.
Sadly, everyone, and I mean every human—mom, dad, leader, pastor, and person on the planet—has times when it seems like everything is coming unraveled and is out of control.
Of course, knowing that your pain and struggle aren’t rare doesn’t really help you feel much better right now, does it? Maybe you are more like me—a wounded animal backed into a corner ready to bite someone, even someone trying to help.
I don’t expect the heavens to part for you as you read this post, but I do hope you’ll read it with an ear to hear. In fact, may I suggest you read what’s below, set it aside, and then reread it a bit later? Ask God to breathe into your wounded and hurting soul.
There are dozens of things you probably could do when struggling, but here are three things you must do to survive:
1. Take a walk outside to get perspective.
I don’t care if there’s a monsoon or a blizzard outside your door right now. Get out of your bed or off the couch, put some clothes on, and take a walk outside (not in the mall, but outdoors). You don’t need to fix your face or your hair. Just move outside and look around you.
Thousands of years ago, a guy named Abram (later changed to Abraham) was afraid, depressed, and stressed about being childless. Guess what God did? He told Abe to get out of his tent and to go outside.
“God took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5 (NIV)
God wanted Abram to have a different and far better perspective of His glory and power.
Yep, sometimes I want to crawl into a hole and hide when I’m hurting. And when I go there, I end up in a swirl of self-doubt, and my mind gets fixed on the darkness trying to consume me. But when I see the heavens God made, or the colors of fall, or a child jumping into water puddles, then—and only then—does my perspective begin to change.
Listen, God is not panicking about your situation. He’s not pacing back and forth, saying, “Oh Myself. Oh MYSELF!” So take a walk and talk to Him (i.e., pray). If you want an eternal perspective rather than the narrow and limited one you have right now, communicate with the Father.
By the way, you might be in a funk because you’re thinking, “I’m such an idiot, and all of this crap in my life is my fault. I deserve it.” Here’s a little perspective for you, and please pay attention: You never earn God’s favor (It’s called unmerited grace for a reason.), and as a Christ-follower you never need to fear God’s wrath. (Go back and read this post and it will help: http://j01.3b2.myftpupload.com/disturbing-but-good-questions/)
Don’t let your self-talk or the voice of the enemy try to get you focused on your performance. If you’ve failed and blown it, own it and repent. But stop beating yourself up for being far from perfect. God’s goodness is not based on your goodness.
The bottom line is this: Your good days are not good because you’re so good, and your bad days are not bad because you’re so bad. Get over yourself. Rest in God’s love and let a perspective of grace give you hope again.
2. Reach out and touch someone.
Isolating is what you will want to do, but connection to others who love you is what you need.
I know, sometimes you just need to be alone for a bit. I get it. Even Jesus withdrew from the crowds. But you and I both know there’s a huge difference between enjoying some “me time” and retreating into isolation.
I’m an introvert. I refuel and refresh with a cup of coffee in my hand while I’m either reading or writing, alone.
But I need people. I need human touch. Matter of fact, you and I need hugs and a lot of them to survive and grow. (Here’s a helpful article about this genuine need.)
I need someone to wrap their arms around me and tell me I’m loved. I need family and friends who will look me in the eye and say, “You’re not alone. Never alone.”
God lives in the community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And God created angels and humans to connect to and commune with. If God needs connection, certainly you and I do too. We are created in His image.
A woman in our church once told me, “I was hurting alone at home for weeks, and no one called me.” I apologized, but I also gently said, “Please don’t blame others for your choice to isolate.”
Okay, you’re hurting. I know how difficult it is for you to reach out, but pick up the phone and text someone, “Hey, I’m hurting; can we grab coffee soon?”
3. Do or watch something that makes you laugh.
A pretty wise guy who had a lot of stress and responsibilities in his life once wrote this: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Solomon knew something we need to remember; laughter is good for the soul.
Trust me, I understand your pain, and the last thing you want to do right now is laugh. I know, there’s nothing fun or funny about your situation or struggle. But I also know that laughter is truly good medicine.
Science has discovered that laughing is good for your mental and physical health:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body.
- It boosts the immune system.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins.
- It protects the heart.
- Laughter even burns calories!
So, go find a hilarious movie on Netflix, make some popcorn, and laugh. Laugh hard. Laugh a lot. Nope, it won’t magically change your circumstances or situation, but it will change you.
Perhaps, the best act of faith in God you can demonstrate at this very moment is to laugh in the midst of your pain.
God made you to smile, and I’m suspicious that laugher is one of His secret weapons for helping you and me get a different perspective (See point one above.).
One more thing to consider as a bonus . . .
Remember, “This too shall pass.” I know that’s a cliché. I know you might not believe it’s true right now, but it is. It’s a cliché for a good reason.
In fact, can you remember the battle you were fighting on January 10, 2010?
Neither can I.
Someday in the not-too-distant future, today’s struggle will be a forgotten or much smaller memory.
Furthermore, can you control what’s going to happen tomorrow?
Neither can I.
Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Don’t freak out about tomorrow, chill, just deal with today as best as you can.” (Matthew 6:34, Bubna paraphrase).
Your pain is real. It matters. You matter. But as I’ve written and said a thousand times, this moment is not the end of your story.
So, hold on, take a walk, have coffee with a trusted friend, and go watch a funny movie that will make you laugh so hard you cry.
And I promise you’re going to be okay because you are loved. Always loved. Never alone.
Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope,
fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy
and perfect peace as you trust in him.
Romans 15:13 (TPT)