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.
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.