They are going to come at all of us at one time or another – challenges that we’d rather not face. We do gain some wisdom though as we deal with these challenges, and I’d like to share just a few of the things I’ve learned or others have passed along to me.
If you’ve made a mistake – so has everyone else in one way or another. Don’t think of it as a mistake, but as the set of circumstances that will bring you to the next level if you’re willing to learn. Make any corrections that you can.
If you’ve hurt someone – the fact that you’re feeling remorse shows that you know you hurt them. Ask for forgiveness if possible. Make amends if possible, and move on. Know that you will now be wiser and more understanding and forgiving of others.
If someone has hurt you – ways to deal with this vary depending on many factors – was it a stranger, a loved one, a co-worker? Did they just offend you or did they lie about you and ruin your reputation? Was it intentional or an accident? Sometimes in smaller things,we just need to take ourselves less seriously and get over it, and usually we need to remember that people are doing the best they can with what they know. If it’s a serious, life-changing incident, we likely will need some kind of help or counseling to deal with it. I think that we always need to keep in mind that good can come out of any situation, and God can bring beauty for ashes if we are open to it and allow Him to. Forgiveness is sometimes a life-long process, but we have to remember that forgiveness helps to set us free. One of my favorite quotes about forgiveness from Paul Boese says: “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
If you are grieving the loss of someone or a way of life that is no more – allow yourself to feel the pain – stay with it and allow it to do its cleansing, healing work. It’s hard, but if you allow it to just be, it will pass in time and leave you changed, but whole, at peace, and more compassionate. Spend a little time each day alone and in silence to process your grief and allow God to heal your heart, and spend some time with others who care about you to feel the warmth of human connection. Find someone willing to listen to your story over and over but who loves you enough to tell you when it’s time to write a new story.
If you are lonely or depressed – God is always with you – you are never alone or unloved. You are precious and of infinite value. We’re made to need connection with other people. Reach out to someone. We would be surprised to know how many people feel this way some of the time. Do things you love to do. Lend a hand or a listening ear and find someone who’ll listen to you. Volunteer – it connects you to others, helps you see your value to your community, and has even been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain. Be kind to yourself. Exercise in a way you enjoy to stimulate feel-good chemicals in your body.
If you’re stressed and overwhelmed – examine your choices – this is a perfect time to learn that you don’t have to do everything everyone else does or everything other people expect you to do. Let some things go. Question what is most important to you. People are always more important than things. If it seems like you can’t drop anything, ask for help. Always take a little time for yourself doing something you love. Lighten up – play with your kids or someone else’s – life isn’t as serious as we make it out to be – smile – move – laugh – breathe – be true to yourself.
Personally, I believe prayer is a part of the solution to all of life’s challenges – sometimes just the words “help me” open the door to bring God on the scene in ways we couldn’t even imagine. We have to be willing to do our part too and take action. If we’re unhealthy and tired, but won’t take the steps to eat healthy food, get our bodies moving, limit caffeine and alcohol, and get enough sleep, we can’t expect to feel good or have the extra weight drop off or strengthen our muscles.
If we’re on a fast treadmill of obligations and activities and feel frantic as a result, we need to take some steps to get off that treadmill or slow it down to a saner pace.
If we are in a troubled relationship and want God to do something to change the other person or soften their heart, we have to be willing to examine ourselves. Maybe our heart needs softening or opening; maybe we have to realize that their viewpoint is worth hearing; maybe we don’t always have to be right.
Prayer and listening for the answer can show us the steps we need to take, but we need to take them. There is always an answer, but it isn’t usually a quick-fix or an instant solution. God will make a way where there seems to be no way, but as the old song says, we need to “trust and obey”.
A tiny action or change of mind on our part can pave the way for a miracle. Thank God, if we give Him an inch, He just might take a mile!
I know there are people who shut down or stop reading when God is mentioned. There are others who think I should write more about God. I write very early in the morning after a time of silence, and I write as I feel directed. Sometimes the words aren’t even that important, but the feeling of hope they bring or the inspiration to take action. If even one person is helped, I feel that my time is well spent. Peace and blessings. . .