I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world~ John 16:33 NIV
There is little in life more challenging than a bad or frustrating situation that does not change in spite of our best efforts and fervent prayers. Sometimes the situation is financial. We need a job or a some sort of a financial miracle, or someone we love needs one or another. Other times the seemingly unchangeable situation is relational. We want to see health and healing in our marriage or a close relationship and despite our best efforts it just doesn’t happen. For Christians oftentimes the situation is spiritual, we want to see a breakthrough in someone we love that just doesn’t happen.
When these kinds of situations drag on for years at a time they can test our faith and cause us to doubt the goodness (and sometimes even the existence) of God.
The following strategies are not magic bullets. Putting them into practice may or may not change your situation for the better (sorry). That said, we become what we do. Doing these things will help you put your mess in better perspective, empower you to handle the situation more effectively and enable you to grow in the midst of your trial.
Stop resenting the situation- Job 5:2, Job 36:13
Resentment is the worst. It literally poisons to our souls. It clouds our judgment, hinders our ability to problem solve and steals our joy. Furthermore, resentment is an emotional black hole that sucks up mental energy that would be better spent on problem solving. If resentment is allowed to fester and grow it will eventfully mutate into bitterness. Bitterness is the most destructive and defiling force on earth. It has the power to prevent us from doing anything good in this world (Ephesians 4:31, Hebrews 12:15). For those reasons (and at least a dozen others) it’s critical we deal with any resentment we may be harboring so we can move on to a healthier way of looking at and dealing with the present situation. Gratitude is the antidote to resentment. If resentment is an issue, spend some time in prayer thanking God for the good things you do have or the situations that are going well. It will melt away the resentment and refresh your soul.
Learn what you need to learn from the mistakes that landed you in the situation but don’t live in the past- 2nd Corinthians 13:5
No one is a bigger advocate of frequent self-examination than I am. Seriously. I believe with all my heart there is wisdom in scrutinizing past mistakes and poor choices. Understanding and owning our junk prevents us from making similar mistakes in the future. However, an unhealthy fixation on the past (ruminating on it constantly) is a pointless distraction that robs us of our ability to deal with the present productively. If you find yourself thinking constantly about past choices ask God to forgive you for those mistakes and help you to move past them with some healthy and wise choices in the present. Taking just one baby step in the right direction today will make tomorrow a little bit better.
Control the one thing you do have absolute control over- Proverbs 16:22, Titus 2:11-12, 2nd Peter 1:3-10
Oftentimes, when we feel stuck we also feel we have very little power to change the details of the situation or move things in a better direction. Our perception of the situation may or may not be accurate (see next point). That said, there really are times when the only thing we have any control over in a given situation is ourselves. We cannot control other people or the circumstances that come into our lives but we can control how we react and respond to the people and circumstances in our lives.
Get advice from others and put at least some of it into action – Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 13:10, Proverbs 15:22
I know from my own experiences stuck people tend to develop tunnel vision when it comes to their situation. As a result we tend to think there is absolutely nothing that can be done to change or even improve our situation. Typically other people (friends, Pastors, counselors, coaches) can see options and alternatives that we cannot. This is why it’s absolutely critical we seek the counsel of others. However, simply asking for advice will do nothing if we don’t actually take the advice we are given and make the appropriate and necessary changes.
Don’t give up- Galatians 6:9
Ultimately, staying sane in a stuck situation is all about keeping things in perspective. Perspective is about far more than simply finding a way out of a bad situation. It’s about making a commitment before God to come out of the situation a better person than we were before we got in it. It’s about keeping our heart open and free from bitterness, so we can learn and grow in the midst of the situation.
Keeping things in perspective enables us to help someone who is going through something similar in the future (2nd Corinthians 1:3-5). Keeping things in perspective and refusing to give up (no matter how tough it gets) empower us to come out of our difficult situation with a deeper faith, stronger character and more passionate love for God.
And that’s what life is all about anyway.
One thought on “Five Things to try When Life Feels Stuck-”
Good word, Lisa.