I think if I could title the past five months of my life, I could sum it all up as “Well, that did not go as planned.” In fact, 2016 has not been going quite as planned either. Maybe that’s where you are right now…feeling the need for a “do-over.” I’m talking myself through this as I talk you through this because maybe you’re learning on the fly right now too. Life doesn’t allow for many do-overs. That can be really frustrating especially if another person’s choices or life stages are what have sincerely altered your life. Once things happen, you can’t go back and change them. (Although, God can redeem what or whom have brought drastic consequences into your life.) When I speak about do-overs, I guess I’m talking more about a “re-set” button, where you can find a fresh start right where you are. Here are some things I am learning about “re-setting.”
When you’re in the throes of a catastrophe, it’s not easy to pause. In fact, often, it just is not even feasible for a drop of the hat pause because of all the logistical requirements for dealing with the problem at hand. In the early stages of a crisis, full attention is required for understanding the issue and how to cope with it. Sooner or later, though, exhaustion sets in and it becomes absolutely necessary to pause. When this moment comes, it’s critical to actually do the pausing. Pausing brings about better breathing for your lungs, but also for your life.
When you pause, you consider the overall picture, not just the task at hand. If you are feeling overwhelmed today, the best way to lighten your load is to pause with prayer and rest. You might also take a hot shower. That does a world of good to change a person’s perspective and people can’t usually reach you in there. Be intentional to steal time away by yourself to simply rest so your thoughts can slow down.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15a
Then, as you pause, it’s time to regroup. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to write a list. By jotting down a list, you recognize what actually has to be done to work through the challenges you are facing. This takes the swirling thoughts of possibilities out of your mind and puts them on paper. When you look at that piece of paper, you can address one thing at a time, as you move down the list line by line. If others are in the thick of working through this challenge with you, it’s a great time to collaborate lists and concerns, while delegating responsibilities. This also provides accountability in order to prevent things from slipping through the cracks. As you consider the tasks at hand, it will also help you sort through distractions wracked emotions can bring and lies from the enemy. Weigh all that must be done against the scales of God’s word. Your feelings are important, but they must be measured by faith and fact.
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15
The further you get away from the initial game changer announcements, the more you can evaluate what this information means for yourself and your future. When you’re left with shattered dreams, it’s time to start dreaming new dreams. You may be in new territory with a completely different atmosphere than you are used to, but that doesn’t mean that your world is over. It means that your world will be new. No person’s world can escape pain as long as flesh and blood are involved. But a renewed spirit can come when hope is re-ignited. You were put on this planet for a purpose. Don’t waste it. Even if it’s your pain that is the primary tool you have been given at this time, dream about how you can use it as a catalyst to do a new thing, beyond your self. Don’t loose hope. Refuel it.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
- Find support
The fact is, you can’t do all this alone. You can’t figure it all out by yourself. You need inspiration, advice, and encouragement from others. First, you need it from the Lord. Then, you need to find safe people who will listen to you and encourage you, while keeping you grounded in truth. Whether it’s family members, friends, co-workers, church family, or professional counselors, find support from people who are trustworthy and will cheer you on in the darkest days. It’s your responsibility for being intentional about connecting with the right people. This might mean writing an email, making a phone call, setting up an appointment, or finding a Bible study or support group. When you are stuck on how to move forward, you need people who will affirm you, but also be careful to hold you accountable when you’re talking nonsense. If one ruffles your feathers by keeping you in check, be grateful. Ruffled feathers are better than picked over bones wiped clean by wolves who lure you into the traps of complacency and deviation from absolute truth.
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
- See what is right in front of you
You may have had a particular goal or ideal in your head for what this season would look like. It’s hard to move those mental pictures aside when a new opportunity has been plopped right down in front of you in which you are being called to make a difference. Interruptions are not always welcomed. But sometimes, they become our immediate calling. Don’t be so upset over what has been taken from you that you miss seeing what has been entrusted to you. Be faithful in the callings that have overshadowed other things you understood to be your calling for this season. Whatever you are dealing with right now, God has purposed for you to play some sort of role in that occurrence. Don’t waste your purpose. See what’s in front of you, ask God to give you wisdom for how involved you are to be with that situation, and be faithful to embrace that ministry as He guides you forward.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” Colossians 3:23