When Life Disappoints You

Sometimes, life just smacks you a good sucker-punch right to the noggin. And often that blow nearly takes your breath away.

Someone you love dies, you lose a job, someone you care about gets sick, you lose a pet, etc. And then, out of the blue, hopelessness and grief show up for an uninvited, lengthy stay.

And what do we do when the world around us feels as if it’s collapsing and we can’t seem to find a way out?

As it turns out, it’s during these times when things are falling apart that we are given some pretty good opportunities — to show compassion, patience, trust in God and often to demonstrate the difficult ability to simply persevere.

Get Back on the Horse

It’s during these times when the world is crumbling around us that we are provided with not just our most challenging times, but also life-changing times, that, seen later in retrospect, give us those “a-ha” epiphany moments, not to be understood at the time the immense challenges are happening.

My mother suffered a stroke in late December, and my life since then has been about trying to help her. Help her through her long hospital stay. Help with getting her situated into a rehab center. Help with her recovery. And finally help with bringing her home to continue to care for her.

I have honestly never prayed for someone so much in my life. And although this experience has been a very tough one, it has brought much closer to God, than ever before.

But since she had her stroke in December, often I have felt paralyzed. It’s honestly the only way I can describe it. For the most part, I have felt an inability to focus on or do anything else unrelated to her recovery. Everything else in my life has not only taken a back seat, it’s probably somewhere in the trunk…buried under the spare tire.

I have felt an inability to devote any time to getting the new design firm I partnered with two colleagues, off the ground.

My book, “The Quest for Virtue” which is ready to be released…is collecting more dust than Miss Havisham’s house.

And although I need to continue helping my mother remain on the road to recovery, I’m tired of feeling paralyzed. It’s time to get back on the horse. Even if the horse does feel like it’s a Clydesdale, with a penchant for tossing its rider off and snickering afterwards.

So many times in life I have learned that when we carry our cross willingly, and patiently, we will find greater strength from carrying that cross. But when we bear it unwillingly, we only make our burdens greater than they already are – yet we still have to bear them. And one who runs away from the cross is only running toward another cross, perhaps even a heavier one.

That has been my life these past six weeks.

Although I fully realize God is calling me to care for my mom, and to be joyful for all that she regains, and accept all that she does not…I have been mentally suffering, wondering how I will do it. How I will bear it. And this has only created more crosses.

And these extra (and weighty) crosses have been constructed from a desire to “run”. Run from the new and more difficult responsibilities of taking care of my mother. Run from what I have been viewing as a burden.

Someone once said – Do not always look to be on the other side of the suffering – as if that is the only place you will find peace and find God again. No. God is to be found in the suffering itself, because that is where He is trying to heal you.

Healing. That is what I need. That’s what we all need.

So, I have decided to put down all the other crosses that I have self-constructed and to trust in God to help me carry the one cross that He gave me.

And the way this works is like this:

Stay with the pain and the struggles. Don’t run from them, don’t try to do anything to avoid them, but face them with courage.

Stay with all of the emotions and sadness. Have the courage to just be with it like you would with a friend who’s suffering. Don’t dwell on it, but don’t run from it either.

Do it in small doses, and with patience. We don’t need to drown in the sadness.

Pray and give everything to God: your concerns, your heartache, even your helplessness. Give it to God through your prayer, and then let it go.

Just Do the Best That You Can Do

Eventually, you will overcome the feelings of sadness and despair, and realize that, with God’s help, you will be given the strength and the courage to deal with them and the world won’t end.

When we try to solve our daily problems and remedy our troubles on our own, without prayer and trust in God, it will usually only end in a deep frustration.

Trust me.

I am going to start living this more, so that I can remove myself from despair and feeling paralyzed…so that I may get back on the horse, and continue living my life as God intended for me, and for everyone.

It’s time for me dust off some areas of my life that have long been neglected, and put God back in the driver’s seat.

*

Editor’s note: Mr Scott, the author of this article, is currently raising funds to self-publish his book while he’s assisting his mother with in-home care. Visit his KickStarter page to learn more. 

Alan Scott

By

Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog GrowInVirtue.com, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

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  • JohnC

    Alan, Beautifully said. I feel for you and know these are tough times.
    You’ve received a beautiful gift… the chance to love and serve your mother. Whatever sacrifice you have is such a benefit to your soul.
    And, your Mom has received a gift too. She can see your love. In all her pain and suffering, she knows that her son loves her. Nothing can make up for that.
    Depending where she is with her Faith, you can help her to see the meaning in her suffering and it can be atonement for her own sins and the sins of others. She is joined on the Cross with Jesus.
    You can lean on the writings and life of Mother Angelica, who suffered a stroke, too. She was a world class sufferer and will be a Saint. Her understanding and love of suffering has been a tremendous help to me.
    Blessings,
    John

  • Viki63

    Thank you for this, it is very helpful. I look at others who are retired, off on vacations to Hawaii, etc. My husband has been hospitalized all last year and now I’m caring for him at home and praising God for the opportunity to be closer to Him. If not for the crucifix on the wall, I wouldn’t be able to do all that I have to.

  • L Almaraz

    It has been said that God allows only the crosses you can bear. You my Christian brother are very much beloved by God since he has allowed you this special cross. You will be a witness for so many starting with me as you write about your feelings and sufferings as you carry on with your Mother’s recovery. You are in my prayers and I hope I will show the love and strength you have displayed should I ever have to carry such a cross. “Jesus, excessive lover of men, come to the assistance of all the caregivers of the world!”

  • independent_forever

    I lost my Mom in 2012 suddenly and let me tell you, that sort of surprise does take your breath away BUT that loss brought me closer to my father. I was blessed with two God-sent parents but as is often the case with Dads we (I’m a Dad too) are often the reliable, dependable man behind the scenes just getting things done but almost invisible on some levels. The loss of my mother meant he was “pushed to the forefront” and everyone in the family now came to him and talked more and enjoyed time with him more so than ever before and it’s been a true blessing. It’s as if God said to us “your Mom served her purpose, now it’s time for your family to appreciate and get to know your father”….gave us a chance to not waste precious time and that is one great gift. I now know that when my father does eventually go to our Lord I will have no regrets thanks to this God-given chance to love my father all over again. Things happen for a reason…we just don’t usually understand WHY until much later….good luck with your Mother…on my next rosary I’ll include her too….

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