“If one more thing falls in our lap, I don’t think I can take it.”
I said those words in spring of 2020, partly to God and partly to my husband. And like a siren call made to steer the sea ship toward destruction, guess what fell into our laps soon after I uttered the words?
Another difficult change I didn’t want or ask for.
It came on an unusually hot summer morning. I heard my husband call out from his office, “Hey honey, can you come in here?” I walked into the room, and he relayed the news we’d been waiting for — but news that didn’t go our way, news that broke my heart.
The air in the room, like the news delivered, became obscenely oppressive. I dropped into his office chair, more because my legs gave way than because I was consciously sitting down.
I started breathing shallow and quick, tears falling down my face. It felt like a certain measure of sacred life would never return to normal. I knew this would be a definitive line of demarcation in my life of before and after.
The changes of 2020 touched most aspects of our lives: our hearts, our families, our life stages; relationships, fellowship, and friendships.
More than once, we asked this to heaven: How long, oh Lord?
Of course, some of the changes were difficult yet expected. But when so many changes that were not expected or wanted hitch themselves to the wagon of the expected ones, you can want to take to your bed, pull the covers tight around you, and get lost in a piled-up plate of nachos or Netflix.
(Ask me how I know.)
Maybe your last several seasons or years had multiple changes smacked into you too. Changes such as:
The pandemic stole your job, your home, your loved one’s life.
A change of heart stole your marriage, your definitive plans, your mental health.
The national division and international turmoil stole that trip, that friendship, that familial harmony.
There’s nothing wrong with turning toward favorite treats or television shows for a little while. But as God has thankfully seen me through to the other side of those difficult changes of 2020, I want to pass on three longer-lasting coping mechanisms that helped me get from where I was, neck deep in the muck and mire, to the better place I am today:
- Be honest with just one person about how you’re really doing. Whoever you can count on to count your own heart as precious — your mama, your sister, your friend — tell her how you’re doing. Text or call her about getting together this very week, on a phone call or in person, and tell her you’re gonna need a little time to share some things out loud. Get the thoughts and feelings from the inside to the outside.
- Serve your family, your friends, your neighbors. Do a small handful of things to intentionally get out of your own head and be a blessing to someone else. That is, serve other people. When joy is elusive, be the way someone else receives joy. So, share the tacos, text the word of encouragement, or watch the neighbor’s kids for the afternoon. Serve someone else and watch how the Lord serves you by bringing joy right back to your own weary heart.
- Get your hind end in the Word. While it’s important to process our struggles with others and to serve others, we want to plant truth into ourselves on the regular. I know some life stages make this more regularly attainable than others. But even if you can only get a few verses in while you scramble the eggs or fold the laundry, it will not return void. It will strengthen you from the inside out.
Through active rather than passive waiting, we can make it through the difficult changes in our lives. And make no mistake: You will make it through your season of change upon change. You will.
You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Because if God was good before these changes — and indeed He was because He is good all the time — He is good now and will give good things within these hard changes, too.