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When Your World Caves In (What to do and not do!)

Perfectly Imperfect – A Travel Guide for Life, Relationships, and Faith!

This is not going to be one of those blogs that tells you how to turn lemons into lemonade. (I hate that cliché.) I’m not going to give you ten steps to overcoming your struggles and finding victory. You won’t find any secrets or keys or any mysteries revealed here either.

I suggest you go read something from Tony Robbins if you’re looking for blue skies and rainbows.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with having a positive attitude; it’s always better than the alternative. But I’ve grown a little weary of the abundant and overused sappy or religious platitudes.

Sometimes life sucks.

You hurt.

You ache.

And from somewhere deep within you, there is a groan and a sorrow that seem unquenchable.

  • Your marriage ends.
  • You get diagnosed with cancer.
  • You find out your kid is on drugs (again).
  • You go to court expecting a fair and just outcome that doesn’t happen.
  • You pour your life and every dime you have into a business that goes bankrupt.
  • You find yourself saying goodbye to a parent on the edge of eternity.

You see what I mean?

When you’re in the thralls of devastation and despair, when a dream dies or your hope gets crushed, the last thing you want or need is for somebody to slap you on the back and say, “It could be worse! Hang in there, buddy.”

Why do some well-meaning Christians forget that it’s okay to grieve with those who grieve? Why do some feel the need to slap a happy sticker on everything? Why are we afraid to embrace one another in the valley of the shadow of death?

I love these words of Ann Voskamp in The Broken Way: “There is no fear in letting tears come. Sadness is a gift to avoid the nothingness of numbness, and all hard places need water.”

Pain is often a present reality. On this side of eternity, there is no avoiding it. Of course there are good times. Certainly there is much to be thankful for in this life. By no means am I suggesting we become a Debbie Downer or just throw in the towel (another cliché I hate).

So, what can you do? When your world caves in and all seems lost, what can be done?

Just take the next step.

That’s it.

Just determine to do one more thing, to take one more breath, and to go one step farther down life’s road.

There is very little you can do about what was or is to come.

As Jerry Sittser writes in his book, A Grace Revealed, “The future is as unknowable and uncontrollable as the past is unchangeable.” In other words, you and I have absolutely no idea what is coming, and there is nothing we can do about what has been done.

However, right now, because this moment is the only thing you can control, you can choose to take one more step.

“Bubna, what in blazes does that mean?”

It means you don’t give up.

It means you get out of bed.

It means you put one foot in front of the other even though there are no guarantees that anything is going to change or get better tomorrow.

It means you just keep moving forward even when (especially when) you don’t have a clue.

Why? Why not just quit?

Because giving up never ends well, but taking one more step might.

Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Cindy Lindsey

    It seems right to take another step but in the next step to come there might be even more pain so I am standing still on my Rock and that is all I can do right now. Will the fear of the unknown ever go away?

  2. christina

    my world was caving in all the time, I feel so lost like nothing or no one could notice me, in 2014 I lost my grandfather and I still am suffering from depression through out my life.
    and I was wondering if u can put me on the right path so I won’t be so lost in my world, or my world won’t be caving in on me.

    1. KurtBubna

      Dear Christian, I’m so sorry for you loss. Finding the “right path” starts with finding the One we must fix our eyes on (check out Hebrews 12:1-3). Jesus suffered too, and He is the only one who can and will sustain us. I highly recommend Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way. I believe it will encourage you as it has deeply encouraged me and millions of others. Know I am praying for you right now. You are loved.

  3. Karen

    May I ask what if it just doesn’t get better?
    What if the pain and grief just never stops?
    I am in therapy and take an SSRI , however, my depression is real and ever present. Losing my three children has taken the joy out of my life completely.
    I do put one foot in front of each other…but being a mom was everything to me. Living in Hawaii doesn’t even help. I know I am only here because of Him

    1. KurtBubna

      Dear Karen, My heart aches with yours. Having lost a grandson was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I can only imagine your pain. In my opinion, time doesn’t always heal all wounds, but time does help us gain perspective. Can I humbly suggest you read Jerry Sittser’s first book, A Grace Disguised, because it is about loss and truly helped me. If you can’t afford it, email me ([email protected]) your mailing address. I will send it to you ASAP. Please know I am praying for you. You are loved.

  4. Deb Griffith

    My brother sent me this post after my crappy week. My long time friend and daily pal had to be put down. Though he was a dog, every part of my day included him from sharing toast in the morning to being the first and last one I see when leaving or coming home. Then as the icing on the cake, my daughter went into preterm labor at four months and we lost our first grandchild. We had planned for this baby, helped them buy a house and talked of spending Christmas with them for the birth. We loved this baby and he wasn’t even half formed yet. It’s so hard to keep going. I would prefer to just go to bed. Maybe I’ll try to put one foot in front of the other but my heart is so heavy I hardly think I can move. My poor baby girl is going through labor and then going home to an empty home tomorrow. Life is too much to bear this week.

    1. KurtBubna

      Dear Deb, thank you for sharing your heart with me… Any one of those experiences can be devastating, all at once is beyond hard. I am so sorry for your loss. Your reply (and another on the same day from someone else) has literally brought me to tears. Can I pray for you? “Dear Father, You know the pain of loss. Please wrap Your arms around Deb, her daugher, and her family right now in a way that only you can. Hold them. Comfort them. Carry them. Somehow, do what You do to help them take the next step. In the name of the One who loves us beyond words, Amen.” I will continue to pray for you. You are loved…

  5. Sharon L. Coatney

    Well,this is good news, I thought I was the only one going through the valley of the shadow of death… I am 37 days into a spinal surgery of 4 fusions … there have been about 30 days of those which have been unbearable pain and the other 7 well not so much…all the pain meds in the world has been unsuccessful in dampening the rage of burning crushing driving like a storm in a hurricane of oblivion.
    not to mention the sciatica intensity non relenting up till about 7 days ago… I can not complain about the expertise of my BE LOVES DR. AND ALL THE SERVANTS OF THE HODPITAL, REHAB, AND HOME VISITING CARE I’VE HAD THEY ARE EXCELLENCE IN THERE INTEGRITY AND LISTENING EAR
    they have cheered me on while I’ve been a screaming mememememe

    1. KurtBubna

      Praying for you, Sharon.

  6. Lisa Fairburn

    Thank you Kurt. Need this reminder as the pressure seems to be coming from all directions presently. There is a great song by Marc Waller…”While I Wait”. And he talks about taking every step in obedience even while we wait…wait for what? For healing, direction, the pain to ease, whatever! It challenged me in a season of depression and despair to take one more step! Good Word!

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Lisa. Love that song by Waller. Love you guys…

  7. Martha Orlando

    Yes, one foot in front of the other . . . We can never let go of hope.
    Blessings, Kurt!

    1. KurtBubna

      Thanks, Martha. Holding on to hope with you…

  8. Brenda Hoyer

    As I am still maneuvering the warer of losing my daughter, mom, dad, and brother in the span of 18 months, I totally get this. Many times I have wanted to crawl into bed and just turn off. I know God gave me these babies of my daughter, Sunny oto care for– who also give me the responsibility to keep going. Putting one foot in front of the other– and soon, things seem normal again. Not to make light of the incredible losses I have had, but knowing that those steps DO lead to joy again. Thank you for your words.

    1. Kris Faulkner

      Beautiful Brenda. I needed to hear this today.

    2. KurtBubna

      So sorry for all your loss, Brenda. Know this pastor and praying for you…

  9. Rebecca Gump

    Totally agree. I was one of those that would try to say something uplifting because of my natural tendency to encourage. Then I found myself in the midst of grief and only understood then, nothing can make the pain go away, I just had to go through it. I once pictured Jesus weeping with me and it struck me how strongly he is with us. Not just an observer, but a participant in our pain. I am so thankful for his promise to never leave us alone.

    1. KurtBubna

      Grateful for His presence and His promises…and for you!

  10. Rosena Colella

    Thank you for understanding and for putting it into words. I cried more as I read this. Not that I needed permission to cry (I can hardly avoid it these days) but it’s nice to have it just the same. I can cry and walk at the same time. Sometimes I stop. Till my eyes adjust to the water welling up in them. Then I take another step. Sometimes I can take several steps consecutively without stopping. Then I stop, wait till my eyes clear and start again. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m getting “some where.” One day, I may even recognize some where and be glad I made it there.

    1. KurtBubna

      RC, grateful for your honesty and your friendship. Crying and praying with you…

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