So we’ve established that freaking out is a natural and acceptable part of the faith journey. And when I refer to freaking out, I mean those moments when our anxiety takes over who we are and what we believe and we can’t seem to tamp it down no matter what we pull out of our bag of tricks. And who among us hasn’t freaked out at some point, including Jesus?
I think that freaking out tends to happen at two main moments in our lives. We freak out when we know something bad is coming up – like my friend who had to live with the knowledge of her son’s impending heart surgery for six weeks. Too long to know something that hard is coming. And I think we also tend to freak out the moment crisis hits. But what about during and after. I know that yesterday, during my friend’s son’s heart surgery, I felt helpless. It didn’t help, as I mentioned in a recent post, that I had just become privy to a lie and a cover-up and I was – and still am – reeling from that.
So what do we do in those moments when we are overwhelmed, when we feel paralyzed, when our hands are tied? I don’t have this all figured out, by any means, says the girl who is in a funk and staring out the window and trying to decompress and still in her pajamas at 11:47am. But I have learned a couple things that work – when I actually do them – to get me moving forward again.
One, sit with it. Let yourself be sad or angry or confused. Don’t just rush back into life after hearing devastating news or after walking through a horrible day. You are allowed to feel every feeling.
Two, praise God. I heard Beth Moore say once, “When you don’t know what to do, praise God.” This may feel false at first. But last night as I fell into bed after hearing that sweet little boy had finally made it out of his thirteen-hour surgery, I thanked Jesus for protecting his life and pulling him through. So start there. Just thank God for what he has gotten you through before, thank him for being in control, thank him for loving you even though you’re currently a hot mess.
Three, ask God for help. I then move into asking for wisdom. I’ve asked how I can help my friend. And I’ve asked him what in the world I’m supposed to do about this other crazy situation that has just reared its ugly head into my little life. And then I said to him, like a little girl with a parent who’s trying to back out of taking her to McDonalds, “You promised,” referring to James 1:5 that says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” I’ve heard God loves it when we pray Scripture back to him, and I’ll use all the tactics I can get my hands on.
Four, ask others for help. So then I ask around in my trusted inner circle what they would do if they were me, or I run an idea by my mentor for feedback before I do something rash and in the heat of the moment that I’ll regret. I have never once regretted stopping to wait for guidance or a thumbs up.
Five, do the next right thing. This is an AlAnon thing and it’s great advice. When you don’t know what to do next, give the dog a bath, you know? You can’t go wrong with getting things done that need to get done. Today, for me, this has looked like doing a load of laundry, cleaning my kitchen, vacuuming my bedroom, washing my bathroom floor, making sure I had my smoothie, writing down nap on my to-do list. It even meant changing my plan to go back to see my girlfriend from today to tomorrow, because I know I’ll be better for her tomorrow than I would be today, and because I know she’s covered by the company of another best friend.
So, it’s okay to freak out. And it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and stuck and like you’re going to jump out of your skin. I’ve felt all of those things in the past thirty-six hours. Life is about all of it. And about remembering that “life is hard AND God is good.”
Thank you for taking time to remind me of these things. Going through what most people consider “normal” stress right now that has nothing to do with my addict husband (b/c he is in long term rehab) but it is overwhelming to me this is a good reminder 🙂
Thank you for this post, for your FB page, for your holding a space for all of that pain and letting us all share and support each other.
Starting in December of 2013, I asked Spirit for my ‘word for the year’, as I’ve done in the last several years, and what I got this time was a series of different messages that added up to a very clear song: “step by step, day by day, handhold by handhold, one day at a time, one thing at a time….”
So ‘do the next right thing’ is a brand-new expression to me, but it’s a phrase that fits right into the bass line of that harmony. Yeah. Yeah, I can sing along with that one! Do the next ‘right thing’. I’ll remember that as I walk my walk this year, one step at a time.
Judith, thanks for your hugely encouraging words! So glad you’re finding support here.
Life is hard AND God is good – I like that!! I had a freak out moment night before last. It wasn’t pretty. If freaked my sons out. I repented to them and to God and did better the next day. Lesson learned: stop talking to negative people – expecially my ex-mother-in-law. Sigh. At least I’m learning! 🙂
I can’t take credit for “life is hard AND God is good”, Kim. That’s from my mentor. 🙂
I SO luv that last line: “…life is hard AND God is good.” Yes! To both. I had spent years being inundated with ‘churchianity Christianese’ that subtly (and sometimes overtly) said if God is good then how can I be so overwhelmed by the hard (and often, bad) that *is* life?
You, Elisabeth, are a breath of fresh Christian air in what is all too often a densely legalistically smog-filled Body of Christ. Thank you!
Aww, Krikit…”a breath of fresh Christian air”…so sweet, thank you!