Heartache, crises, and chaos have hounded me the past several weeks.
I’ve attended a funeral for someone very young, heard the news that a friends cancer has spread, grudgingly quarantined (again), watched someone close to me relapse with an eating disorder, had long-awaited plans abruptly canceled, and did a 180° pivot from the plans my husband and I had for the near future. I know I’m not alone in the heartache department. I’m betting you could supply a list of heartaches too.
In all transparency, it was the 180 ° pivot that was the worst for me. My husband and I had plans for the future that were suddenly dashed. We went through a period of shock, then a woe-is-me period, and finally mourning of unmet expectations. I’m still nursing my wounds, and I’m pretty sure he is too.
The “now” my husband and I thought we heard from the Lord turned out to be a “not yet.” For someone who struggles with impatience, “not yet” aren’t words I like to hear.
Thankfully, the Lord knows exactly what He’s doing in this season of our waiting. We both take comfort in knowing that every one of our days was written down before we lived even one of them (Ps 139:16). Where our myopic vision (picture Mr. Magoo) keeps us both from seeing distant objects (plans), the Lord has no problem and can see far, far into our future. Thankfully, He has a perfect eternal perspective.
The other day a quote that I heard years ago popped into my head. It couldn’t be more applicable to our situation than it is right now. “A dead end is just a good place to turn around.” (Naomi Judd) That’s what my husband and I are doing right now-turning around. We’re getting our bearings. We’re weighing our options. And we’re being patient (or at least trying to). We’re calling it our detour season. Ultimately we’re letting the Lord work His plan without getting in His way. We’re believing that our “not yet” will one day be a “now”.
Even though the detour wasn’t part of our original plan, we both see a few positive things coming from our situation. We’re communicating better than ever before, we’re encouraging each other and we’re maturing as we persevere.
Got a Heartache?
Life is not always fair. No one gets through it unscathed. It’s not a matter of if heartaches will happen, but when.
So what’s going on in your world? Had a few setbacks? Has the death of a loved one thrown a sucker punch at you? Has a diagnosis you didn’t see coming paralyzed you with fear? Been quarantined a time or two? Suffered a miscarriage? Experiencing infertility problems? Lost your job?
When it comes to heartaches you really can’t rate one as being worse than the other. Each person’s heartache story is unique and, most importantly, if it matters to the person going through it then it matters.
Raise a Few Hallelujahs
I’m holding onto hope. Hope isn’t fake happiness or rah-rah optimism. Nope! Hope is looking at the future with expectation and excitement!
So how do I hold on to hope? There are a few things that help me. I call them “heartache medicines,”
Gratitude: I raise a few hallelujahs for all of the good things that are happening and have happened in my life. I don’t just go for the obvious ones (warm house, food to eat, etc.). I dig deep. I take the time to run through a timeline of my life and write down random blessings that pop in my head. I strive to recall the blessings I may have forgotten-maybe a “coincidental” meeting, a “chance” opportunity, or an answered (or unanswered) prayer. My lists always end up being longer than what I think they will be. Once I’m done, I speak words of gratitude for them out loud. Gratitude changes me.
Seek Out Friends and Community: The worst thing I can do when I’m experiencing a heartache is to isolate myself from my friends. The saying “no man is an island” is true. Human beings are meant to be and stay connected. Connection plays a big part in our well being and survival. Human beings suffer when we’re isolated from others. Being part of a community helps us to thrive. Sharing my heartache with trusted friends and them in turn sharing their heartaches with me helps me to realize that “I’m not the only one”.
Help Others: Helping others makes me forget my own troubles. It takes me out of my woe-is-me state. It feels good and is something we should all do. Some things I’ve done in the past are: volunteering, donating to a cause I believe in, sending food to a family in need, lending an ear to someone who needs a friend, giving newborn supplies to a new single mother, offering to babysit for worn out parents, providing a shoulder to cry on, writing an encouraging note to someone who needs a pick-me-up, buying a book and shipping it to someone, and inviting someone to church. *If you’d like to share ways you help others please send me a note. I’m always searching for more ideas.
Believe His Promises to You: I’ve saved my best “heartache medicine” for last. It can be a cure-all antidote if I let it be. According to one account, there are 3,573 promises in the Bible. The Bible is full of them to help me in my times of need. This I know for sure: He keeps His promises and I can most definitely believe Him. Here are just a few of the promises that I’m believing in and counting on:
- 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
- Matthew 6:26 (NIV) Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
- Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
- Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
- Psalm 125:1 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
- John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
- Isaiah 61:3 “And provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (If we give God our ashes (heartache) and remain hopeful, he exchanges them for beauty.)
If you’re in the middle of a season of heartache, let me assure you that one day you will smile again. All hard seasons have their end dates. Until then, search for glimpses of good things happening in your life, seek out friends to lean on, step out of your situation now and then to help others, and above all else, believe His promises especially that He will, one day, create beauty out of your heartache.
Friend, if you’re going through heartache right now and need a friend to listen to you, please reach out to me. I’d love to be a support for you.
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