If you’re going through hell, keep going.
Your situation may have been caused by a bad decision, or a failure. It may have not been your fault at all. Because we live in a fallen world, bad things do happen. We experience the pain of a lost job, lost health, or a lost loved one.
When such things occur, our knee-jerk response may be to hide and lick our wounds. We may just sit and ruminate about our situation. We may want to stay in bed all day. We may feel emotionally paralyzed.
Instead, we may react with anger and frenetic activity. We may blame others or ourselves. We may instinctively jump into high gear, with the idea that it’s better to do something, even if it’s the wrong thing.
So what do we do when we experience the valleys of life? Here are a few point to remember when you feel you can’t find a way out of your situation.
- You’re not the first one to experience this. Of course, we know that everyone experiences pain in this life. We know it, but we tend to forget it when our pain is particularly strong. Recalling that others have experienced similar situations, or worse, and that they have made it through it, can help us gain perspective.
- You’re not alone. Even though we can’t see Him, we are promised that our Heavenly Father will “never leave us or forsake us.” In our pain, we may not feel His presence, but we are promised that He is always beside us, and carries us when we can’t carry ourselves. I love the line, “If we knew who was walking beside us, every step of our day, we would never be afraid of anything.”
- Let others support you. When bad things happen, we need to lean on other people. Talk to those who you know would want to be there for you. Don’t be afraid of bothering or burdening them. If they were experiencing a similar situation, would you want them to come to you? Would you be upset if they didn’t? Let them help you in the same way.
- Do one step at a time. We have a strong tendency to ruminate about the past or anticipate the future, and such ruminations create much of our pain. In reality, the past does not exist except in our memories, and the future does not exist except in our imaginations. We will never have the resources to deal with the past, because it doesn’t exist any longer. We will never have the resources to deal with the future, because it doesn’t exist yet. We will always have the resources to deal with the present moment. We are told: Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
- Be kind to yourself. Even when the valley is due to your own mistake or failure, it doesn’t help to beat yourself up. Beyond a healthy self-discipline, be kind to yourself. Try to show yourself the same compassion that you would show to a loved one who made the same mistake. If they would deserve such compassion, you do too.
- You don’t have to see the whole path. In the midst of our valley, we often can’t see the whole way out, but we don’t have to. We only have to see our next step. You can drive across the United States at night, even though your headlights only show you the next one hundred feet. You don’t have to see the whole route, only the next little bit. But by continuing to drive the path we are shown, we will eventually get to our destination.
Hopefully, these points will help you in your difficult situation. Just remember to keep moving.