Welcome to part 2 of Sucky Seasons! This is my attempt to share some handles that have helped me hold steady in my seasons like this. They are tricky seasons to navigate and the ONLY good thing about them is that they usually birth new strength, new life, break limiting mindsets and develop bigger spiritual muscles than you’ve ever had before. The problem is it’s really easy to get lost in the haziness.
As much as I hate this truth sometimes, where you put your focus is where you go. I’m on to teaching my second learner driver and I can testify to this fact in the natural! It also translates to the spiritual. What you think most about is where you go. What you repeat in your mind, play out in pretend conversations and concentrate on will be what you steer towards. It is often an act of will to change focus because sometimes it just feels so good to wallow and seek imaginary revenge with some really great one-liners! We need to take thoughts captive that direct us the wrong way. I find post-it notes on mirrors, on my bedside table and on my phone help to re-orient my focus to the promises rather than problems. They help me lift my eyes.
I like to read and so when the muck starts to hit the fan, I am desperate for two main things; tools to help me get out of this season as quickly as possible and secondly for comfort. When you have pain, you long for comfort. It’s how we’re wired. Often the pain can be in relationships and so the obvious choice for comfort may be the cause of the pain or grief. This is why God is the best and ultimate place to look for comfort. His Word is alive and active and able to bring both comfort and understanding. If you have big feelings, read Psalms because so did David, if you’re a leader feeling out of your depth, read from Timothy and receive Paul’s encouragement to his spiritual son who was also finding his way in leadership. If you are wrestling with God and the situation you find yourself, I love Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis who wouldn’t let God go until He blessed him. Job and Habakkuk will show you how to live through a sucky season and still come out the other side praising God. It’s powerful and perspective correcting.
There’s also a plethora of fabulous books that may speak to where your main struggle is coming from. Gather tools to help fight your way through, receive comfort and encouragement where you most need it. Reading plans on Bible Apps are also a great way to search a topic and get daily encouragement around it. If you’re not a reader, jump on you-tube or audible books. (Thanks for reading this if that’s you!)
Substances Don’t Bring Sustenance.
I’m a huge sweet tooth and I can throw a lot of sugar on a situation, but it never ACTUALLY helps. It’s a bummer, I know! Whatever your substance is whether it be alcohol, chocolate, baked goods, medication or any other number of things that could be included, they just plain don’t help. They could add to the hurt, so don’t go jumping off a cliff with any of them!
There Is No Escape.
Encouraging isn’t it?! Just like the children’s book, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, there is no way over it, under it, or around it… we have to go through it. We need to have fun with friends and find some joy, but if you start frequently disappearing into Netflix, video gaming or destructive things like pornography then you’ll only be extending the season of hardness because you aren’t moving through it. You’ve just set up camp in the middle of it and blocked it out in an attempt to escape! Sucky seasons can’t be avoided once they land, you just have to move through them. Don’t live there! David said, ‘even though I walk through the shadow of death,’ meaning that David also went through sucky seasons, but the key is to walk through. This is not your final destination! Keep moving forward.
How’s Things With You?
Sometimes our own problems, even if severe and awful are so all-consuming that we become insular. Finding out what is happening in someone else’s world can help bring perspective to your own life. You have circumstances making your season sucky at the moment, but someone else has different circumstance making theirs sucky! Please note: It’s not for comparative purpose that you are asking this – there is no sliding scale on what problem is the worst or who is suffering the most! It is so that you can help, you can contribute or comfort. Sometimes, weirdly enough, hearing someone else’s situation can make you grateful for something in your own that you were completely overlooking. It can also help you feel like you are in something together and then you’re not alone, or at least fighting your separate battles at the same time. Everyone has something going on somewhere in their sphere of life and a good friend asks, ‘how’s things with you?’ You need good friends, so be one.
There must always be some time and space for this. There’ll be days you couldn’t think of anything worse – but when a little bit of hope floats, or the sun rises a little, seize the moment and do something for the sake of fun and laughter. Grab a friend, a family member and go do something. Anything! Just look around and enjoy a moment, it will feed and replenish your weary soul.
There’s always something to be grateful for and reminding yourself of them can help get your focus back on track. I sat my miserable self at the beach today and though my heart was sad, I was grateful for warm sunshine on my skin, the majesty of God’s creation and for a moment alone with God. It didn’t conclude my season or bring a dramatic change, but it did allow enjoyment to visit my soul. Gratitude also leads to praise and praise is a spiritual weapon, not just a manufactured feel good moment. It is very real and powerful.
What things could you add that help you get through a sucky season? Why not add in the comments or let me know which of these things you’ve found most helpful to you.
May you find the answers you seek and learn deeper truths about your Maker and yourself in the process. I pray that this sucky season refines you into a weapon infused with Kingdom purpose. That you’ll emerge a polished and straight arrow, reimagined and reborn.
You are not alone. You are not abandoned. Hang in there, for this too shall pass…