Recently my life seems more of a chaotic mess than the collected and streamlined flow that I wish it were. Life throws curve balls our way in many forms. From flash floods that break out of nowhere and pet emergencies that break the bank, these are just a few of the things that can make our home lives feel out of control.
C'est la vie!
Don't dismay. Everyone has ups and downs in their life journey. When we sail through the calm and clear waters of life, we glide through them with confidence and sometimes we remember to be thankful for our many blessings. When life brings turbulent waters our way, the first thing we do is question why misfortune has knocked on our door. Hard times can wreak havoc on even the most well established people. I have experienced both times of bountiful abundance and other times where the only thing that keeps me going are these four pieces of advice.
Focus your time
When disaster or misfortune strikes, we feel powerless and insignificant. Maybe you lost your job or have lost your marriage. Hard times make us feel like we have no control over our lives and this is partly true. We don't control everything in our lives, and for this reason we should learn to focus our time and efforts on the things we can control. How we spend our time from this day forward is something we can have a good amount of control over. For example, your life may be in disarray from loss of job or loss of material possessions but you still have control over your daily routines. You can create a plan of action for your day, week or month and stick to it. By focusing our time and efforts on things we can control, we allow our self to regain a sense of confidence in our lives. Try this today.
Call on your tribe
Do you have a tribe? If you aren't sure who your tribe is, then you can probably start out by identifying groups you actively belong to like your family, friends, congregation or even your work community. Now is the time to call on them for help. Your tribe can help in the smallest of ways to make your life a better place for the time being. They may help with something as small as lending an ear for you to vent your frustrations, or they may help in bigger ways by opening up their home for you while you are in need. Asking for help doesn't come naturally to some people, but sometimes you don't have to ask for help at all. Simply including your tribe in your current situation may trigger a generous offer. If it doesn't, maybe you need to open up a little more about how this situation is affecting your life at the moment.
Meditate on your faith
What's your faith? My personal faith is Seventh Day Adventism. In case you've never heard of this, it is a protestant denomination which I believe teaches a beautiful balance between old & new testament biblical principles through the inspired writings of a prophetess. However, I don't believe you need to be a Christian believer to benefit from meditation. If you believe at least in a higher spiritual power and/or plane of existence, I think meditation would be of help to you. Paul has this to say in Philippians 4:8,
Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.
I truly believe that our thoughts have a strong impact on our day to day lives and how we perceive life in general. Positive thoughts go a long way in preserving a fire in our hearts and a tranquil peace in our minds that becomes nearly indestructible with frequent practice.
Be thankful for your situation
This is probably the hardest advice to follow out of all four listed on here today. The bible is clear about Christians being called to be thankful in good and in bad times.
Be joyful always, Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
How can a victim be thankful for their situation? How can a widower be thankful for theirs? I have struggled with this verse deeply in my own life. I know what it's like to feel a loss so deep that even visualizing the word 'thankful' makes you cringe in disgust. I never understood this principle until I learned that we are called to be thankful for our situation not our loss or misfortune. Even after learning the difference, you may still feel it cruel and unjust to be called to feel thankful during hard times. Something that helped me understand this principle further has been my personal rediscovery of Stoicism. Stoicism allowed me to think differently about this verse through the use of negative visualization. God calls us to be thankful for our situation not because it is ideal, but because it could always be worse.
Next time you find yourself in a hard season of life
and feel completely helpless, remember the story of Job and find solace in the fact that we serve a Just and Loving God who has everything under control. Here is a passage from Job 38
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?...Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him. (God)
Article linked up on Grace & Truth.
How do you keep it together during rough times? What do you cling to?