Sheesh… life eh?! It’s been rough lately! Sometimes I wish there were a fast forward button for hard seasons. Some call them wilderness, winter or desert seasons. I prefer to call them ‘sucky seasons’, because, well, they just suck! I wish there was a cheat sheet somewhere so you can do the learning, retain the lesson and get on out of there. I’m all about growth – annoyingly so if you ask some of my friends – but sometimes even I would LOVE to skip the growth and learning to just wrap up a sucky season and move on! I can approach some rough spots and hard days, weeks or even months with the mindset of learning and personal development, but I find these drawn out seasons that contain no end in sight just exhausting. Can anyone say an amen?!
I’m not sure where you turn when it all gets too much, but for me its God – the Creator of the universe and His written and inspired word. I’ll confess up front that in these seasons I am not always reverent in my communications with Him and though real, not always dignified! He is my hope dealer, dream restorer, head lifter and ultimate comforter.
In the name of growth, learning and sharing the journey I thought I’d unpack some of the discoveries of pain and drawn out seasons that I’ve learnt across the many and varied sucky seasons we all have as people on this planet! So, in no particular order and over a two part blog, here goes…
Own your predicament or season; most people can see it anyway, so save the energy of trying to wear masks and pretend all is well. This isn’t permission to bleed misery and complaint all over everyone you come in contact with though! Just know where you’re at and don’t lie about it. Those closest to you won’t believe the mask anyway, so honour them with truth and your somewhat beaten up, vulnerable self. Hard seasons are near impossible on your own, so allow your inner circle to see, feel and know you and where you’re at. Denial and cute quotes (even scriptural ones!) can seem a more appealing pathway, but fake is futile. Own it.
Take some comfort that no season lasts forever. Just as Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring all click over every three months so do the seasons of life. (unfortunately though not limited to a three month cycle! Annoying hey?) I remind myself that past sucky seasons came and went and therefore so will this one… eventually! You may not be able to see the end, but it will end, the sun will shine again, hope will float up and you WILL emerge out the other side!
Don’t Make Big Life Decisions.
When you’re in emotional turmoil this might not be the time to move overseas, quit your job, buy a house or start a family. Sucky seasons bring confusion that swirls and amplifies feelings – and sometimes feelings are liars! They make you want to try anything to get out of the pain, so watch out for thoughts that suggest major life changes that somehow seem to hold promise of things being ‘all better’ as though that one area is the source of ALL the reason you’re in a sucky season. My experience is that things combine to lead to sucky seasons and escape plans usually involve the most stressful things that anyone could ever go through – moving house, divorce, marriage, change of occupation etc. Let’s not make it any harder than it has to be! Keep plodding and you will come out the other side, your heart and brain space will clear and that’s a much better spot to make big life decisions in! As a friend encouraged me the other day when I was suggesting a plethora of ‘fix it’ options, just stand – when you’ve done all to stand. Stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
Let It Out.
If you cry every night and other times you find yourself alone, well just join the club of those in sucky seasons! Better out than in! Tears can be good for you and grief needs to be expressed. There are spaces it’ll be inappropriate, but find the spaces you need to feel your way through it. Sometimes it feels like sorrow is your constant companion and he’s not very fun, but there can be healing through that space. If you keep stuffing it down it will just leak (or explode!) out in any number of ways and none of them good for you. Grab the tissues and a cold washer for your eyes and let it out.
There are a few things you just have to lock into. Resolve is the way you do that – it’s just good old fashioned grit and an unwillingness to lay down and die in the process! Resolve that you will one day get through this even though there is no ‘end date’ in sight. Resolve to feel the feels, cry the tears, fight the fears, let someone in and to not quit on yourself, your faith or your future. Resolve to not blame God. Sometimes God led people into times of trial, testing and even devastation. (Luke 4:1) He never promised us an easy time or to be problem free.(John 16:33) He did promise though, that somehow He would work it all together for good.(Romans 8:28) That we would receive reward in heaven, that He would be in all of it with us, for He never leaves us nor forsakes us. There is Kingdom purpose in your life and though we don’t appreciate it, the colours we paint our lives with often come from our diverse experiences. The good and the bad will bring out different colours and shades and somehow the frustration and pain add the most vibrant to the palette.
This Season Does NOT Define You.
I’m uncomfortable when I feel weak, I don’t like feeling ‘needy’ and I would rather give help than receive it (even worse to have to ask for it! Agh!). It’s easy to feel like this is how you’ll be forever known and perceived by people around you – as the poor one, the betrayed one, the foolish one, the needy one, the broken one, the depressed one… This is only fear taunting and none of this is your identity because this is something you WILL move through, you WILL somehow overcome and you WILL come out the other side. Your circumstances are not who you are. They are only what you are currently making your way through. If anything, they will refine and strengthen you and when you do come out the other side the compassion you will have for others will also find new depth and breadth.
So, in summary, sucky seasons really suck! I’ve in no way perfected or mastered them. This is in no way an exhaustive list; part two will be posted shortly! My hope is that we find our way through these times together and in health. Hang in there!