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Difficult Circumstances and 10 Life-Transforming Lessons

“This was a difficult but good session,” my therapist emphasized. “I want you to take a moment to breathe, then tuck this away until our next session.” My trauma therapist, wise and compassionate, closed our time together with sage advice amid difficult circumstances. 

Last year’s events turned my world upside down, so my New Year began with a season of trauma therapy. This is a healthy next step toward healing, and I’m taking other proactive steps too.

Finishing an end-of-the-year ritual, methodically going through my journals and notes, the year’s wisest counsel slowly surfaced like the pinky-orange hues of dawn emerging on the sleepy horizon. 

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Maintaining an open heart to God’s multi-dimensional counsel, I discovered the 10 most life-transforming lessons:

1.  We don’t “get over” difficult circumstances, we get through them. 

And if we walk through them with Jesus and a mentor, counselor, or trusted someone, we will find the healing we most need. 

Abiding and resting in Jesus’ loving care, I learned a new pace: S-L-O-W. 

Life slowed me to a standstill last year, but never have I felt closer to Jesus. He truly met me in the middle of inexplicable pain and chaos in ways so dear and intimate, they’re difficult to recount with mist-free eyes. 

2. When difficult circumstances arise and we cry out to God, He meets our needs in 2 ways: through His personal, profound presence, and through other humans—of all sorts and walks of life.

This was never so true in the past 6 months. People who didn’t even know me met me in gracious and even miraculous ways! And friends and family met me in sweet and tender ways, from daily texts to cards, meals, or their kind presence.

3.  God uses beauty to arrest our hearts into an experience of His love. Larry Green

I’ve never been more aware of this truth. Being present in His creation was one of the few activities I managed without severe anxiety in the early months following the tragedy. 

4. Death changes literally everything about life. 

We can allow ourselves to be buried by this truth, or we can put one foot in front of the other, remembering to breathe in each moment, and press into God’s healing presence. It won’t happen quickly, or easily, but His promises are certain; God will carry you until you can walk hand in hand through the valley.

5. Loss of all kinds is hard, messy, lonely, uncertain, and misunderstood. 

Surrounding yourself with people who have walked the path of loss and developed empathy is both life-giving and imperative. 

In general, people are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. They intend their verbal offerings to bring comfort, but often their deepest, unconscious objective is to dispel the discomfort in the room.

Your friend circle may dwindle when you experience loss or difficult circumstances. But also expect the King of the Universe to walk so closely that you feel His heartbeat as He carries you through the darkest, loneliest nights.

When friends can’t handle your grief, for whatever reason, resist becoming offended or hurt; everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about. 

But be ready, because God will surprise you with people He enlists to love and support you. They’re already hand-picked and positioned, even perfect strangers! 

6. When you’re facing difficult circumstances, journal over and over, “I need _________,” and tell someone. Jennifer Webster

Don’t try to act as if life goes on and you’re ok, because you’re not; life sometimes comes to a screeching halt. When it does, ask God for the courage to ask others for what you need. 

7.  When you’re going through difficult circumstances, plan time to grieve. If you don’t, grief will find you, and always at the most inopportune time. 

My counselor taught me our minds are complex enough to schedule grief, allowing us to get through the must-do’s of the week. Our brains maintain the capacity to hold grief and complete the next task because the needed time to process is literally on the calendar. 

8. “Should” statements are rooted in expectation and shame. 

Even those with the best intentions. Empowered with this new knowledge, I’ve been working on reframing my mindset and rethinking the way I offer comfort or advice. I haven’t gotten it down yet, but this is a game-changer for me, recognizing it in others and myself.

9.  God acknowledges when things are hard, so go ahead: break down, get angry, argue, and cry out. He promises, “I’m going to be here: stable, present, and loving you.” God is always regulated. And when we’re dysregulated, He won’t go anywhere. Jennifer Webster 

Jesus delights in our honest communication with Him. He already knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, so go ahead; tell Him!

Decision-making, difficult circumstances

10.  God acts in every moment. The force of evil can intrude, but in love, God never fails to be present and active. David Muyskens

The more I look for God in every circumstance, the more my eyes are opened to His beauty, goodness, and love. Many times it takes journaling for it to surface, but He’s always there, piercing even the blackest darkness with His light.

Friend, what is your greatest struggle this season? Make plans to move through it with God.

Grief is a natural part of difficult circumstances. When you find yourself sitting with loss, don’t push it aside or seek ways to anesthetize your soul. Instead, attempt to identify its source. Allow the emotions to rise to the surface and feel them. Then begin to discover how to move forward into the next season holding your loss in one hand and a new beginning with God in the other. 

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