If you are finding yourself in a stretch of life where everything seems to be going wrong or where you just feel completely stuck, I want to pose a difficult question. But I want to do so in the gentlest way possible.
So, please pretend we are sitting on my couch. The fire is lit. I have made you some tea. There are chocolates and tissues on the coffee table in front of you. We have our shoes off and are both sitting Indian-style, facing each other. We’ve been talking for hours. Our walls are down. You trust me and you know that I care about you.
And I ask you this, in a whisper, “How is your life working for you right now?”
And we sit quietly. We both know the answer to that question, but I let my words sink in. I don’t presume to respond for you. I don’t want to hurt you. But sometimes the truth does just pierce because that’s what truth can tend to do.
And you become uncomfortable. Because you know that your life is not working for you right now. (Reminder: my home and heart and life is a no-judgment zone…my life has not worked for me a zillion times or two…so it’s more than okay if yours isn’t working for you.)
But – and this is the hardest part to admit – you just might be the common denominator. You just might be what’s tripping you up, what’s holding you back from moving forward, from getting healthier, I say with as much tenderness as I can muster.
So, you’re at that place.
Things might be falling apart around you: Your relationships. Your family. Your work. Things might be falling apart inside you: Your faith. Your health. Your peace of mind. Everything is shaky.
But you’re not just living an uncomfortable life anymore. You have finally – more than likely through the prayers of many loved ones around you – realized it for yourself…that your life is not working.
But you’re not just aware of the dissonance. You are at a place of acceptance…that where you are is in large part due to your choices, or at the very least, that it’s not everyone else and their mother’s fault, and that you have options, that your back truly isn’t up against an immovable wall, that you are not without hope.
But you’re not just at a place of accepting your reality. You are at a place of wanting to change your reality.
Well, here’s something I know. Your life will not just up and change one day on its own. If you want your life to actually be different, you have to actually live your life differently. You will have to start making some different choices…in your relationships, with your family, regarding work, in your faith, with your health.
And these different choices will not be easy. If they were easy, you would’ve been living this way the whole time.
We humans are creatures of habit. And we do what we are used to doing. EVEN WHEN WHAT WE DO HURTS US OR THOSE AROUND US. If it has become our normal, even discomfort is more comfortable than wholeness. (I know this for an absolute fact. I lived that sentence for two decades.)
We humans are also creatures of the easy way. Of the fast way. But living a whole life that is free and full is the hard way through the mountain, the long way around the bend.
So what do you do when you come to this place of realizing your life isn’t working and accepting you are the main character in your story and being more uncomfortable with the discomfort and being ready to make some changes?
I’ve got three ideas for you.
First, write down where you see yourself right now. What does your life truly feel like to you? Unedited, just write. What is working and what is not working? This will be painful. This will take courage. But you can do it. (I did this myself, just recently. And it was scary to be that honest. And when I got everything down on paper, I said a bad word. But I did it.)
Secondly, write down where you would like to see yourself in six months. If you could create your life to be anything you wanted it to be, what kind of person would you be, what kind of relationships would you have, what would your family look like, what kind of work would you be doing, how would your connection with God look, what would your health be like? This may also be painful, but this can also be fun and inspiring and hopeful. Open yourself up. Don’t limit yourself. Ask God what he wants for you. (I did this part too. And it brought me a flicker of hope.)
Finally, reach out. All of my biggest life changes came after I realized I couldn’t keep powering through on my own and I asked for help. “We cannot climb up a rope that is attached only to our own belt.” (William Ernest Hocking) So, prayerfully, ask someone you trust – who is wise, discerning, and kind – to read what you wrote, to listen to your heart. And then ask the person how they see your life and if your self-perceptions seem accurate, and then what steps they feel you could take to move from the person you are now to the person you believe God wants you to become. (And I did this part too. I told my husband, my mentor, my inner circle, and then met with my counselor and my doctor. Again, scary, but important.)
Many, many things might be going wrong right now, I know. Your life very well may suck. But you have a life. You have breath. You are not done until you are done. Your life is a gift and your life is your responsibility. You have options. You can become unstuck. You do not have to live the same day over and over and over again, without hope.
So, what do you need to do next?
Do you need to call a counselor?
Go to the doctor?
Stop using drugs?
Stop having sex with people who aren’t your spouse?
Stop spending money you don’t have?
Go to an AA meeting?
Enter a program?
Take prescribed medication?
Tell someone you’re sorry?
Move back in?
Ask for help?
You can change your life. It will not happen today. Your life will look very much the same tomorrow as it does today. Big sweeping life changes are in the movies. Real life is baby steps that sometimes look and feel imperceptible.
But if you start moving forward with a heart wide open to God, with accountability who you are authentic with, and with the courage to start taking small, hard steps that you don’t want to take but know are the right steps because you’re focusing on the bigger picture, your life absolutely will look different down the road. And one day you will be able to say that your life is, in fact, by the grace of God, working for you.
I will focus on this: GOD is doing a new thing!
So, then, forgetting what is behind,
and looking forward to all that I ahead,
I press on.
-Isaiah 43 & Philippians 3
***Some new things are coming soon. Stay connected and up-to-date by signing up for my email list here.***