A massive earthquake in Turkey. Another black boy murdered. The diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. Alzheimer’s. Kidnappings. The war in Ukraine.
It’s enough to keep us from watching the news. In fact, I am limiting myself to only one short news show per day. Check out the 1440.com for an alternative.
Sometimes life unravels a world away as we watch, and sometimes it knocks at our door. What do we do when the unraveling becomes personal? When we cannot find hope? When we’re ‘supposed’ to know the answers and walk a life of faith with a smile on our faces and hope in our hearts?
We Grieve. We admit the truth to ourselves . . . that life on this earth is a struggle. No matter how we try to protect ourselves or our loved ones from tragedy, it WILL eventually find us.
So we take some time out and grieve. Whatever that looks like. Tears. Screaming into a pillow when the children are asleep. A bag of dark chocolate or a gallon of ice cream — no judgment here. I have tried both.
Vomiting our guts out with words in our journals. Sometimes my journal page ends up with holes in it because I press my pen so hard into its lined relief. Searching to find a bit of solace. Tearing out pages and burning them to eradicate my angry words.
When we fail to grieve, we internalize the sorrow. Then depression and life-long anger can claim our souls. Bitterness begins to shadow us, and we isolate in fear.
Better to admit it when we’re trudging through the pit. And find some relief in letting the pain go.
We Find a Friend. During the last few weeks, I have needed the company of friends. One day was particularly difficult. But I knew I had to get out of the house and connect with another pilgrim.
So I texted a friend for a lunch date, and we met at Third Space in Bonner Springs, KS. If you’re in the area, plug this amazing coffee shop into your GPS and drive there immediately.
Over plates of turkey-avocado-spinach-wraps, I shared my struggle. My friend listened. Understood my grief and my anger at the injustice. Gave me some ideas for how to deal with it. Promised to pray.
The release of sharing helped me make it through the day. And the warm spinach wrap was also a comfort. Sometimes all we need is a good friend and some good food. In that order.
We Admit Our Helplessness. Sometimes we can follow our to-do list and resolve whatever is happening. But often, we find ourselves unable to do anything to solve the particular problem. The systems work against us. The mountain is too tall and too cold to climb.
As one of my friends says, referring to A Tale of Two Cities, “It is certainly not the best of times. It is also not the worst of times. But it is a time we have not experienced before.”
It is much easier for me to figure out Plan B and make sure it happens. As a firstborn with an extra dose of life-long responsibility, everything in me wants to solve this problem. I am willing to do anything to make it go away and restore what has been stolen.
But I cannot solve it. The systems are stronger than I. The dynamics must work themselves out, and I must let go of Plan B, C, D, . . . . My self-sufficiency has met its match, and I lose. Pluck another grey hair. Plaster moisturizer on new wrinkles. Grind my teeth in frustration.
Maybe my letting go will release other powers to do what is right. If only they will choose the right way. But what if they don’t? So I go back to grieving, journaling, finding friends who promise to pray, stay busy, and try to find the zipper that releases hope.
Yes, I know many of my followers are thinking, Why don’t you just trust God? I do trust God, and I know that ultimately he is the one who restores our broken lives.
But a lifetime of experience has also taught me that restoration does not always happen in this lifetime. Sometimes the eternal plan is the outcome, way beyond my Plan B and much deeper than I can even imagine.
And that’s when the pain intensifies. Even as I repeat Bible verses, engage in my personal communion time, and beg God to show himself mighty. A sliver of hope seeks a good result. Logic reminds me that the resolution may remain hidden.
One step closer to vaulting over that mountain does not mean I will conquer its summit. But at least in the trying, the energy required for movement can elicit some hope.
Ultimately, we just keep breathing, living, and praying that the God who knows all things will somehow make a way through. And that what is broken will eventually be fixed, even if it takes eternity to finish it.
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Living day by day requires a daily reboot. Find yours in Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom.