As many of you already know, this past week was a whirlwind of unexpected, frightening news for me and my family. A routine doctor’s visit turned my life upside down, and it left me sort of reeling. (You can read the details in this blog post, if you’d like more of the backstory.)
Through this experience over the past week, I have a newfound appreciation and empathy for those of you who are enduring major life struggles each and every day. I know that what I went through last week pales in comparison to some of the situations you find yourselves in, but in these moments I felt emotions I have never felt before.
I did not have the emotional or physical strength to do much of anything. I had no appetite. I couldn’t bring myself to really blog and had no desire to get online and tackle tasks I needed to — which is very out of character for me because I love this community here!
As I reflected on all of this, I thought about lessons I’m learning in the middle of this and I wanted to share them in hopes that they might encourage someone else who is going through a rough season. Maybe you have a difficult child, financial struggles, a broken relationship, medical issues, marriage problems, or you just feel plain stuck in life right now.
If you’re struggling today, here are 3 things that helped me last week:
1. Choose Joy.
Focus on your problems and you’ll feel discouraged. Focus on your blessings and you’ll feel encouraged. We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can always choose our response to those circumstances.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or if the news we receive will change the course of our lives. We do know that we have today to embrace life and live as vibrantly and fully as we possibly can.
Choose to live fully today. Because today is all you’re guaranteed. Dwell in the present, and embrace the beauty surrounding you.
When I experienced my surprise medical issues, I had staying with me. I felt, at first, like it was the worst timing possible. I realized very quickly, though, that God had brought them to me at the perfect moment. Having them surround me with love, prayers, support, and encouragement was exactly what I needed and exactly when I needed it.
And I realized how much I had to be thankful for: not only my friends surrounding me, but also for my husband, my children, having 33 years of life — and a very healthy life, at that!
There is always, always something to be grateful for. Sometimes we have to really look for it, but when we do, we’ll find it — and probably a lot more than just one thing!
2. Reach Out for Help.
I’m a very driven, Type-A, do it all by myself kind of person. Allowing people to help me can be very difficult sometimes, but I’m beginning to really learn the beauty in reaching out and letting people pour into you and help you through times when you’re struggling.
We were made for community. Sometimes it feels easier to keep our feelings and hurts and struggles locked away inside, but sharing vulnerably with others gives us an opportunity to open up and have authentic relationships.
If you don’t feel like you have someone to reach out to, think about the people around you who seem like they are caring people, even if you don’t know them extremely well. I encourage you to reach out — today.
If you cannot think of anyone to reach out to, I’d love for you to reach out to me. You can e-mail me, tweet me, or leave a comment on this post. I do not want you to feel alone, and I would love to pray for you and give you a virtual hug.
I’m sure others here at the December212012.info community would love to do the same for you. I want this to be a community where we are here to help, inspire, bless, and encourage one another.
3. Do the Next Small Thing.
I will never forget hearing Elisabeth Elliot’s story after her husband, Jim Elliot, was brutally murdered by the people group they were trying to serve and love. After an elaborate plan to minister to this people group ended in radio silence, Elisabeth Elliot said she had a choice in that heartbreaking moment — a choice to keep moving. She chose to do the next small thing, which was changing her daughter’s diaper.
For me this past week, when I wanted to feel overwhelmed with emotions, I challenged myself to just get up and do the next thing — loving on my family and being a host to my friends.
When you do the next thing, even if it seems so small, it will give you courage to keep taking the next small step. It usually feels so much easier to sit, wallow, and be discouraged. But if we just get up and do the next thing — whatever that might be — we will be able to start moving forward and not feel so stuck.
For those of you going through a seemingly hopeless time, I wanted to recommend two books to encourage you. Being the minimalist that I am, you know that I do not own many books. If a book stays on my shelf, it has deeply impacted me. Both of these books have been on my shelf for a long time, so you know that I really love them. 🙂
- by Darlene Deibler Rose. This book shares the story of a woman’s miraculous faith in the jungles of WWII. I read it for the first time when I was about 13 years old and have since read it multiple times because it had such a profound effect on me. To read of this woman’s faith in the middle of confinement and horrendous situations as a prisoner of war was incredible. She chose joy over and over again and reminded herself of the truth instead of giving to seemingly hopeless situations. Even in some of the lowest points in my life, I always told myself that if Darlene could find joy and hope, so could I.
- by Linda Dillow. This is one of the absolute best books I’ve read about having a calm, restful, and trusting spirit during the trials of life. I highly recommend it.
What helps you when you are struggling or feel discouraged? Leave a comment and let us know!