March 7, 2019

How to Get Through Hard Times

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Life feels like it has been EXTRA chaotic lately. I’ve been through hard times before, but this time around feels like an extra blow to the gut. I don’t even know how else to put it. I was feeling pretty darn good about myself & where I was back in, say, November, but by the end of that month, things changed drastically. As a result, it has taken a lot of effort to figure out how to get through hard times all over again.

It’s important to examine what created the chaos in the first place.

How can you know what to correct or work toward if you don’t know where things shifted or went wrong in the first place? I am a big proponent for taking some time to examine WHY. I don’t even care what the subject is, I will nearly always ask WHY! But, in this case, it’s especially important.

Look back.

When did things shift from land-of-okay to what-on-earth-happened-here? Can you pinpoint what derailed you? For me, I was feeling good about how far I have come in life. Everything I had ever once prayed for, I felt God had given me. I was feeling SO blessed! I was thanking God often. My longing to grow closer to God was only getting stronger. I began going to Bible Study Fellowship weekly & examining how to stop that divide of “this is where God belongs in my week” to make sure He was present EVERYWHERE.

I can clearly see when disaster struck.

You might not & that’s okay. Maybe it will be a bit more vague for you. But, for me, I was so stoked to get a new hair cut & color for my birthday so I could start wearing my hair down again. Then, just a few weeks later, my desire to even TRY went away.

The handsome husband was gone for work for about a week. The dog — HIS dog — decided to run off. He was gone overnight. I was distraught. When I found him, a couple had brought him in from the cold & let him stay in their garage. BUT not before he drank contaminated water & ate Lord-knows-what all around the neighborhood. He already has a sensitive system. Yep.

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The dog, literally, crapped all over my house.

I woke up to it the next morning. The loose, nasty stuff. On my carpet. All up & down my hallway & in my living room. Yuck! I have a sensitive stomach too. It is amazing we both survived. I had to not only clean that up, but also keep the toddler out of it, help my grandmother around it, AND take the dog out every hour or so because he was STILL needing to “go.” I call it the week of crap.

I realized the week of crap was preparing me.

After dealing with the dog crap from Sunday to Wednesday, then the dog running away AGAIN & crapping even MORE in the house, on Thursday night, the day before my husband finally got home from that work trip, my grandmother & I got a phone call from the doctor. The lump she had on her back? It was lung cancer.

Who would have thought all that (literal) crap would have seemed like nothing in comparison to all that came next. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my world started crashing.

I was ANGRY!

Twenty years ago, my mother passed away after battling an aggressive form of leukemia. I was only 17. Now, my grandmother was about to battle an aggressive form of lung cancer? God, how CRUEL can you be?! Why would He do this? WHY when I was finally coming back to Him after realizing I had been so angry at him for all of these years for “robbing me” of my mother at such a crucial age?

I went into survival mode.

I scheduled & tracked appointments, focused on keeping the house as picked up as possible (though I failed miserably at that part!), slept whenever I could so I wouldn’t have to deal, & masked my sad emotions from my toddler. You get the idea. But, I was pouring myself into OTHERS & doing the minimum for myself. I still talked to God, but it was mostly to tell Him how ANGRY I was & how much I just didn’t understand.

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But, I did talk to God.

That’s the thing. God doesn’t need our prayers to be all neat & tidy. He doesn’t care how we talk to Him, as long as we actually talk to Him. He already knows our hearts, so we can’t really go wrong. In fact, there were MANY times, I was SO exasperated I just cried. I told Him angrily that He already KNEW what was on my heart & that I just didn’t have the words — or the energy to find them! — that day… It’s not ideal, but, you know what? It’s STILL talking to God. He was still listening.

Eventually, my angry rants turned into calmer requests.

By talking to God, even imperfectly, He was able to guide me through my darker days & lead me toward where I needed to be. Now, though bad weather & Grandma’s chemo appointments have been keeping me from my bible studies, God has led me to a new church that I totally LOVE so far! My husband has even been going with us! I prayed for help not only finding a church home, but also that my husband would be led to attend with us. I never expected it would happen so quickly.

God does listen!

On top of finding a home church, I have found a new daily routine at home. So far, for a little more than a week – – which is a RECORD for me! — this routine has left my kitchen pretty clean each day & a load of laundry getting done pretty much every day. That might not seem like much for most, but if you knew just how much I struggle with domesticity, you’d see the significance of this!

Plus, I have knocked out a class for my online education & am well on my way to finishing another. I needed that after MONTHS of stagnation in that department. I even put on “my face” after months of going bare, which is a HUGE indicator, for me, of my mental health status & how I am taking care of myself.

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I did these things, but it was the grace of God that gave me the strength.

I could not get through hard times like these without talking to God. I mean, maybe I could… But the last time I tried to do that, it took me TWO DECADES to start to feel good about myself & life again. And, frankly, toward the end of those two decades, do you know what I did? I stopped ignoring God & started actually talking to Him again. So, I rest my case.

Through God, all things really are possible.

My bipolar disorder all of a sudden becomes a bit more manageable. That dark cloud hanging over me doesn’t seem quite as dark. (I won’t claim it totally went away, but, man! It certainly doesn’t dominate as much.) Day-to-day tasks don’t feel quite as insurmountable. I become less self-conscious about sharing where I am & what I am doing & why. I worry less. God gives me strength. His opinion is the one that matters most.

How do YOU get through hard times?

Do you have something that helps? Is talking to God a regular part of your routine? If not, is it something you might try? I will tell you what, making this change over the past several months, for me, has made all the difference! My “problems” are still there. Of course. But, the difference is that I now realize I don’t have to control them. I never had control in the first place. God controls it all. Even more so, God has a plan & He will protect me & my family. However things work out, it will be for the best. God has given me this peace.

Do you have thoughts to share about this? I invite you to comment below with them. Do you have someone who would be interested in reading this? Please share. Want to continue this conversation? Please email me at [email protected], private message me, or simply strike up a conversation over in the Calculated Chaos Community! Not a member? Join us by clicking HERE.

Reta Jayne

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