As many of you already know, this past week was a whirlwind of unexpected, frightening news for me and my family. When a routine doctor’s visit turned my life upside down, I was left feeling very hopeless and discouraged. (You can read the details in this blog post, if you’d like more of the backstory.)
Through this experience over the past week, I have a newfound appreciation and empathy for those of you who are enduring major life struggles each and every day. I know that what I went through last week pales in comparison to some of the situations you find yourselves in, but in these moments I felt emotions I have never felt before.
I did not have the emotional or physical strength to do much of anything. I felt stuck, unable to move.
I want to encourage those of you who are feeling hopeless and discouraged. Maybe you have a difficult child, financial struggles, broken relationships, medical issues, marriage problems, or you just feel plain stuck in life right now. Whatever it is, I want to help you find and choose hope in the midst of pain and discouragement.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, here are 3 things to do when you feel hopeless and discouraged:
1. Choose Joy.
Focus on your problems and you’ll feel discouraged. Focus on your blessings and you’ll feel encouraged. You have a choice in every situation.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or if the news we receive will change the course of our lives. We do know that we have today to embrace life and live as vibrantly and fully as we possibly can. I encourage you to choose the moment as much as possible, dwell in the present, and embrace the beauty surrounding you.
When I experienced my surprise medical issues, I had four blogging friends staying with me. I felt, at first, like it was the worst timing possible. I realized very quickly, though, that God had brought them to me at the perfect moment. Having them surround me with love, prayers, support, and encouragement was amazing.
Having my friends pour into me in that way helped me choose joy in a very scary and hopeless moment. I chose to be thankful for not only my friends surrounding me, but also for my husband, my children, my life of 33 healthy years, and so much more.
Choose joy in the moments when you feel hopeless. Look for the blessings.
There is always, always something to be grateful for. You just have to look for it.
2. Reach Out for Help.
I’m a very driven, Type-A, do it all by myself kind of person. Allowing people to help me can be very difficult sometimes, but I have truly learned the beauty in reaching out and letting people pour into you and help you through a time when you can not do it alone.
We were built for community. Sometimes it feels easier to keep it locked away inside, but sharing our struggles with others gives us an opportunity to open up and have authentic, vulnerable relationships. You never know when your story will impact somebody else in a relatable way, and it is such a blessing to see that unfold when the time comes.
If you don’t feel like you have someone to reach out to, think about the people around you, even if you don’t know them extremely well. I encourage you to reach out — today.
If you cannot think of anyone to reach out to, I’d love for you to reach out to me. You can e-mail me, tweet me, or leave a comment on this post. I do not want you to feel alone, and I would love to pray for you and give you a virtual hug.
I’m sure others here at the MoneySavingMom.com community would love to do the same for you. I want this to be a community where we are here to help, inspire, bless, and encourage one another.
3. Do the Next Small Thing.
I will never forget hearing Elisabeth Elliot’s story after her husband, Jim Elliot, was brutally murdered by the people group they were trying to serve and love. After an elaborate plan to minister to this people group ended in radio silence, Elisabeth Elliot said she had a choice in that heartbreaking moment — a choice to keep moving. She chose to do the next small thing, which was changing her daughter’s diaper.
Do the next thing to help yourself feel unstuck and less overwhelmed. Whatever that one small thing is, just strive to do it.
It usually feels so much easier to sit, wallow, and be discouraged. But if we just get up and do the next thing — whatever that might be — we will be able to start moving forward and not feel so stuck.
Doing the little things will help us beat the feeling of being overwhelmed. Taking it a baby step at a time will help us have the courage to do the next thing, and then the next thing, and so on. For me this past week, it was loving on my family and being a host to my friends.
For those of you going through a seemingly hopeless time, I wanted to recommend two books to encourage you. Being the minimalist that I am, you know that I do not own many books. If a book stays on my shelf, it has deeply impacted me. Both of these books have been on my shelf for a long time, so you know that I love them.
I highly recommend these two books to help those of you who are going through a difficult time right now:
- Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose. This book shares the story of a woman’s miraculous faith in the jungles of WWII. I read it when I was about 13 years old. I read it multiple times because it had such a profound effect on me to see this woman’s faith in the middle of confinement and horrendous situations as a prisoner of war. She chose joy over and over again and reminded herself of the truth. Even in some of the lowest points in my life, I always told myself that if Darlene could find joy and hope, so could I.
- Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. This is one of the absolute best books I’ve read about having a calm, restful, and trusting spirit during the trials of life. I highly recommend it.
Do any of you have other suggestions or ideas on what helps you overcome feelings of hopelessness and despair? I’d love for you to leave a comment.