There are times when life is just hard.
For the whole world, over the past many months, life has been very hard.
It seems like every aspect of life has endured the hardships of unplanned transition, unknown sickness, unparalleled situations, unasked for challenges and uninvited restrictions.
Overseas workers have been caught in the blurred lines between one country and another, one change after another.
We can all sigh and say, “Yeah, it’s been hard.”
Every plan, every event, every travel has been marked by more details, more unknowns and more waiting.
I read a tweet recently by Mary DeMuth. She wrote, “May the Lord untangle the tangled for you today. And may you find deep, sweet peace.”
Life has felt incredibly tangled and the needed prayer for deep, sweet peace feels a little stuck at the ceiling.
What do we do when the tangled things keep coming?
How do we keep our peace in such unpeaceful days?
What happens when life keeps weaving and twisting our neat plans, well-thought out schedules and detailed travels into circumstances we never asked for or wanted?
What happens when life is just hard?
It’s in seasons like this that I realize how desperately we need things to hang on to.
We need real handholds that give us stability and help us through whatever challenges might come our way.
We need firm grips that can help us hold the weight of these situations and moments.
When things are tangled, we need a set of handholds to steady our hearts.
Unfortunately there isn’t an end in sight, especially in certain places around the world.
For those of us who are feeling the unending, hard, heaviness of the past months, here are 5 handholds that you can grip tightly right now.
1} Trust your foundation.
If you’ve built your foundation on the Rock, he will hold you secure. You can trust him to hold you, balance you, steady you and lift you. Remaining surefooted in uncertain times means trusting your foundation and holding on tight. Your foundation isn’t your organization or your family or our spouse or your work. It isn’t your support team or a church. This foundation is your relationship with Jesus alone. He is the rock solid base on which we stand firm.
2} Remember your preparation.
Remember the first few months of being an overseas worker? Remember the days of training and hours of sitting in meetings? The books you had to read and the discussions about possible situations you could face overseas? In seasons of unknown, go back and look at those old notes. Find the google files, dig out the books, send a Facebook message to a colleague who went through training with you or browse through new trainings and workshops that are available online. You’ve been prepared and it’s time to put some of those things into practice. Of course you probably weren’t prepped for a pandemic or closed airports for months on end, but the familiar principles of your training can be helpful handholds when you need them.
3} Keep the basics.
This handhold can be incredibly valuable. Take a nap, do the dishes, go for a walk, eat a healthy meal, have coffee with a friend. These basics can be what keeps you strong when everything else is tangled and falling apart. Keeping these basics builds a daily practice to renew your mind, bring health to your body and remind you of what your heart needs each day. The basics are things we must remember in the unknown and through the unsteady events in this season.
4} Prioritize your day.
This takes sitting down and planning it out. It means prioritizing some upstream basics and incorporating them into your days and weeks. For me, I need to sit and make a list of the tasks, big and small, to figure out what needs done first and what can be put off until tomorrow. Put life into small, doable tasks and prioritize those tasks until you have a plan you can work with when life is hard.
5} Do the next thing.
It’s tempting to make the lists and then go watch a movie. But when life is hard and you’re looking for solid handholds, make a commitment to yourself to do the next thing. It can be a small thing. But that one thing can encourage the next thing and the next thing. Just remember, the next thing can be a cup of tea and a book. Do the next thing.
These handholds can seem too simple, too familiar or too overused. But the reality is that when stressful situations come our way and life gets hard, these are the things that are easily set aside in the crazy yet they are the most important pieces for healthy days.
Sometimes a simple reminder to trust your foundation, remember your preparation, keep the basics, prioritize your day and do the next thing can be just what you need to read right now.
I know I did.
What are your go to handholds when life is hard?
What are healthy handholds that you need to hang onto?
What are some unhealthy handholds that you need to let go of?