There are going to be times in life when things seem so hopeless, dark, and impossible that you may feel like life could not possibly ever get better. Through your own mistakes or the abuse of others, or maybe due to your health or finances or age or marriage or other situations that are in a bad way, you may get to a very low point and see no way out of it. The good news is that this is a normal part of life. The bad news is that you must stay strong and not let yourself believe that things will never get better because that is not going to help your problems. How does one stay strong in the darkest moments?
First of all, when thing are not so bad, be thankful! And take note of the blessings and happy moments in your life. Celebrate the good days!
Next, when things are not good, tell yourself that this is something that happens to ALL PEOPLE. Some people may seem to have all the luck or all the bad luck. But in reality, everyone has ups and downs, even if you don’t know about them. Remember social media is not always true!
Next, encourage yourself with positive thoughts such as , I am going to get through this. Things will change. I can survive this. I’m still alive and that is a good thing. So and so cares about me. I have a dog who loves me. At least I am -fill in the blank-, such as still employed, able to walk and talk, not homeless, not in pain, or whatever fits the truth. Try to think of something!
Next, spend time with someone you know cares about you. Don’t unload all your problems on them, but it’s okay to let them know you are struggling and get a hug and some company. Then try to do something positive with them, such as cook, or watch a movie, or go for a walk, or do a craft, or play a game, etc.
Next, think of things that you wish were true about your life and ask yourself what steps might you take, baby steps, to move in that direction. Set some tiny goals, some medium sized goals, and some big, scary goals! Talk about them, read about them, read books about setting goals, write them down, make a poster and put in your room!
Today I was driving home and feeling pretty good. I had just run 7 miles of pretty trails. It dawned on me how 30 years ago I would NEVER have imagined this scenario happening to me! 20 years ago either. Or 10 years ago! I had no idea that some day I would be fit enough, brave enough, free enough,organized enough and mentally capable of being a person who would get up , pack up gear, dress for it, drive 45 miles to a park, and run trails alone, in the heat, for fun, with goals and races on the calendar. I was not this person before. My life changed over time little by little and sometimes in big leaps. I had to overcome fears, overcome laziness, overcome shyness, figure out what I wanted, meet new people, learn new skills.
If I had let the many bad days and lows and awful experiences of my life get me down, I would not be here doing these things!
BUT GOD… God had other plans. God didn’t leave me damaged and broken and scared. He told me to just TRUST HIM with this little thing, then one more thing, then another and my legs shook and my voice broke and anxiety was through the roof and yet, I was moving forward. How did I even get to that point? Well, I prayed and asked for help, a lot! But then I also realized that God expected me to prove that I trusted Him. So I started slowly pushing myself into uncomfortable situations, like talking in a group, speaking to people I didn’t know, volunteering, and joining likeminded groups. I was terrified much of the time.
One time, in a brave moment, I volunteered to chaperone youth on a church summer trip. This was a huge step for me. I was more immature spiritually and socially than many of the teens on the trip. This trip had a huge impact on my faith. It was a stepping stone to more faith-building experiences. The more I stepped out in faith, the more I learned that God could be trusted. After that trip I was asked to speak ON A MICROPHONE in front of the church about the trip. I nearly had a heart attack and my legs were so shaky I could barely walk back to my seat, but I did it! God got me through it and I learned that I could do that, even if I never really learn to enjoy it. If you’ve never been to church camp, I highly recommend it!
Another time, I felt God moving me to teach children’s Sunday School. This was a big responsibility, and it caused me some anxiety, but I did it and not only did I enjoy it, but I grew in my faith as well. Then I joined Community Bible study , which I was very nervous about , and it became a huge part of my life and I’m so thankful for the friend who invited me.
All of those baby steps lead me further down the road to becoming a stronger person. And when the time was right, God introduced me to running through a 5k run at my church. My life was changed on that day. Running has been such a gift and a launchpad of growth and relationships and fun experiences. Running may not be in your future, but God has something for you, too! Will you trust Him? What is he putting on your heart? What do you keep feeling like you ‘should’ do but are too scared? Has someone asked you to do something that you know you could do if you weren’t scared?
The ups and downs of life will continue, but with strong faith, you can get through them much easier. You will quickly turn to God in prayer and in confidence that He is there with you, and will guide you. The more you turn to God , the closer you get to Him. But, one caveat, you must want God’s will more than your own. God’s will is always best! If you can remember that He loves you and is a good God, you will be able to seek His will , even if it differs from your own. When things are looking bad, you can say, God, what do you want me to do now, and you can have peace and know that in time, it will make sense.