Right now, there are five situations in my life that are making me feel everything from ridiculously uncomfortable to angry to outright scared to despair and even a touch hopeless if I’m super honest.
The Serenity Prayer says:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
I’ve prayed that prayer, hundreds of times, in my head and in my journal and in AlAnon meetings. And overall, I believe in that prayer.
But it’s that second line – to accept the things I cannot change – that is tripping me up right now.
I do not want to accept that these five hard situations are my reality. I almost refuse to, which, of course, is denial and not helpful to myself or anyone else. I cannot stand that these hard situations are my hard situations. I want them all to disappear. But they won’t be changing anytime soon.
So, what do you do when you hate your reality?
Step one: pray
Pray that Serenity Prayer over and over, asking God to really make it clear to you what you can do something about and what is completely out of your control. You might be surprised that you’re not as backed into a corner as your pain is leading you to believe.
Step two: change what you can change
In the past couple weeks, I have made lists of these five hard things. I have taken small, perhaps-imperceptible-to-an-outsider steps, as well as big, obvious, brave steps on each. God doesn't move parked cars, I've heard it said. (He could, but he usually doesn't.) So do your part.
Step three: tell someone one
I’ve also reached out to my closest friends and told them that I’m not okay and I've asked them to pray for me hard. I've also had a crying-my-eyes-out phone call with my counselor which brought some calm and a much-needed perception tweak.
Step four: replace lies with truth
I have been hearing myself say that all of this is my fault (and frankly some of it is, but some of it is not) and I have been telling myself that all hope is lost and everything is going to be horrible from this point forward. But I’m saying it’s all my fault and that I’m not a good fill-in-the-blank or a good fill-in-the-blank (if I filled in all the blanks, that would share too much of what my hard situations right now, so I’m keeping them blank). My thinking has been very black and white. So, I am trying to stop myself by saying out loud, “you are telling yourself lies,” and then I’m trying to remind myself of truth, like, “Jesus loves you” or “you are the unconditionally beloved daughter of the Father God” or even “this will all be over sooner than you think” (not to be all doomsday about it). But if you’re condemning yourself, work on stopping yourself and saying kinder things.
Step five: grieve
“Life is pain,” to quote Wesley from Princess Bride. Or, better put, “In this world, you will have trouble,” says our Jesus. Our happily ever after awaits us, but not in this life, sweet ones. So sit with your pain. Sit with the things that are unchangeable, that are one hundred percent out of your control. Tell God how deeply hurt and scared and confused and angry and sad you are. If I’ve learned anything over my lifetime it’s that the actual feelings of emotional pain will not kill me. It may feel like it, but it won’t. We will get through this. We will not always feel the way we feel today. But it’s okay to not be okay.
I understand that we may not always feel God with us, but we must choose to believe he is and that he understands us and that he bends down to us even closer in our broken-heartedness and that he will never let us go and that he loves us no matter what, no matter what, no matter what. Because he does.
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If you need a nudge in your healing, I would love to work with you!
If you need a counselor: https://biblicalcounseling.com/counselors/
If you feel hopeless, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.