As with many others, I am shocked and saddened for the people of Uvalde, Texas–a place I had never heard of before Tuesday. There are no words that are adequate to help the wounded hearts in that town. I wrote a post of May 25, 2009 that expresses a lot of how I feel. Just a few months after the original post, my husband passed away unexpectedly and I was left with lots of questions and no easy answers. But love certainly helped me recover and take one step in front of another while grieving.
I could easily talk about all the reasons I think this happened–none of which make sense in light of the carnage–or all the things we need to do in the United States to keep this from happening again. But I will not in this post. The fact is there are no easy answers for the wounded right now.
One of my friends shared on facebook that she is really struggling with all the things that life is throwing at her right now. Unfortunately, I think we can ALL identify with that feeling of being overwhelmed on occasion! Women, who tend to be fixers, sometimes have difficulty admitting they need help when life becomes overwhelming for them. So how do we learn to swallow our pride and ask for help? How do we let our friends and family know that we have reached a point where we are ready to scream, or cry, or just hide, until we can face life with equanimity again?
For those of you who find yourself in this circumstance, here are five things I’ve found helpful.
Recently in my morning reading I arrived to Luke 7: 36-50. Before you read the rest of what I write, I would like you to read this passage (below). There is much speculation as to the identity of the woman. Some say it was Mary Magdalene, but any other time in Scripture where Mary Magdalene was involved, her name was given. It was speculated that it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Indeed, we do read in Matthew 26 of a woman anointing Jesus with costly oil while he was in Bethany and it is likely that it was Mary. But in this passage, the woman is not named, just her reputation was what defined her.
Here is a woman who has learned that Jesus would be at Simon’s house. I have to wonder, was she part of one of the crowds that listened to Jesus’ teaching? Did she stand at the back of the crowd, with her face mostly hidden, so that she could hear this man of whom she had heard so many tales? Did she know someone who had been healed by him or had she just heard the rumors and stories that were floating around? Whatever it was, it was obvious that Jesus’ words and actions had deeply touched her life.
The imagery of this woman standing behind the feet of Jesus while he is reclining at the table is powerful. She wets his feet with her copious tears and then wipes them with her hair. Not only does she wipe his feet with her hair, afterwards, she pours very expensive perfume on them. In many ways, the sheer magnitude of what she did is amazing.
If most of you are like me, the last two years have been frustrating. Covid has changed our world and stress levels are at an all-time high. Our lives are nothing like we envisioned them. I retired when Covid-19 hit such high numbers in 2020.
My expectations for retirement were drastically changed. My bucket list hit the trash can. There would be no road trips to see family and long-time friends, no cruises, and no extra vacations. Suddenly instead of the retirement I envisioned, I was left with the fall-out of Covid and it was hard to find joy in my life.
The fact is that many of the women I talk with are struggling to find joy in their lives amidst the chaos right now. They are tired and worn out. They are juggling their lives, trying to be everything to everyone. You are not alone if you are struggling.
Recently I had one of those days. You know the kind. The kind where nothing has gone the way you planned–where because of Covid, you had to cancel an activity you were looking forward to, where something broke and you need to decide if you will replace it or fix it, where a friend found out they had cancer. Those are the kind of days a lot of people experience.
My list of disappointments can go on and on. However this is the thing–all of us can find all kinds of things to be disappointed about in life. And dwelling on our disappointments just magnifies feelings of anger, frustration, worthlessness, and bitterness.
The good news is that life’s disappointments do not define us and cannot defeat us if we hold strong to some tools for overcoming disappointments. One of my favorite verses is found in Philippians 4:8-9. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”
Today I was reading through the book Successful Women Think Differently by Valorie Burton. I sincerely wish I had been able to read a book like this when I was in my twenties (which is way further back than I like!). The chapter I read today was on resilience. As I read through the chapter I realized that resiliency is one key thing that makes all the difference in the world for people who have faced adversity.
Burton defines resilience as “the ability to bounce back from setbacks.” She further notes that “resilient people thrive and grow in the face of adversity, challenges and change.”1
While I was in the Ozarks I noticed that throughout the rocky ground, there was life. Bushes, trees and even weeds managed to thrive and grow despite their less than ideal environment.
Today I was reading a scripture that leaped out at me in a way it never had before. Maybe it is because I have been reading a lot of headlines, twitter feeds, and Facebook posts. Maybe it is just that I am tired, both mentally and physically. Or maybe it was because God was speaking to me through His word, like He never fails to do.
I can imagine God looking down on us from the Heavenly throne, with a heart that is heavy. I can imagine Jesus Christ, shaking His head and weeping copious tears for His church, His bride, His body. We Americans who call ourselves Christian are losing our way and becoming more and more like the people he came to set free. We are becoming legalistic, self-righteous, political, and judgmental.
Before you start calling me out, please understand that I do realize there are Christians out there who love and serve Jesus with all of their heart. I hear their voices and see their acts of service and their love for God. I know there are Christ followers out there who have compassion for the unlovable, the poor, the orphans, and the widows. There are servants who speak the truth of God and live it out daily.
This morning as I was pondering so many of the difficulties my friend’s are having, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness as I realized all of the needs out there. The diagnosis of breast cancer, the possibility of losing a spouse, the challenges of being a parent, the ravages of grief, the unanswered questions of why God does not answer prayers the way we think should happen–all of these issues came at me like a starship in hyper drive. Life can become overwhelming at times, and even as Christians who know we should put our trust in God, we sometimes become shaky in our faith.
Life is frequently hard–even for those who put their faith and trust in God. I love Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 and often cling to them when my life seems to be in chaos (which is more frequently than I like to admit!). Continue reading →