If you are alive you are no stranger to tough times. They are part of being human. I know you understand what I mean.
Most of you know my story. I’ll share it quickly for those who are new to my blog. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through treatment. Four days after finishing treatment I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal lung disease as a side effect from chemotherapy and radiation.
As a result, I had to close down my counseling practice of thirty years. God has redirected my ministry to writing about self-compassion and faith. It has been a rough road and I’m grateful to still be in the land of the living!
Reality is complicated. The truth is we don’t have a lot of control in life. Things can change on a dime. That’s probably not the answer you wanted to hear. We do the best to prepare and be responsible to take care of ourselves and our loved ones…but we can only control so much. What we can control is how we respond to reality. We can trust God, give over “the unknowns in life” to Him, and develop skills to deal with painful feelings and fears.
Being able to grieve throughout my life has helped me get through difficult times, including having a terminal illness. Grief helps us feel the emotions, adjust to reality and eventually adjust to our new normal. When we know we can grieve even a horrendous loss, we don’t have to be fearful about what life throws at us, because we know we can work through the painful feelings and be okay. When people do not grieve, they may remain stuck in what’s happened to them, become bitter, anxious or depressed, and withdraw from the good parts of life still available to them.
Besides grieving well, there are skills to help us deal with difficult times that can help like talking to yourself with compassion, practicing self-care and soothing yourself when distressed. Treating yourself with the compassion you would give a friend who is struggling makes all the difference in the world!
Put time into what you CAN control
It’s healthy to put time into those things we can control like taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, being responsible financially, taking care of our health, deepening our spiritual life…and leaving the rest to God. We get into trouble when we try to control other people, so we don’t have to feel anxious. It’s way better to get help to deal with your own anxiety, rather than over-control your world and other people so you don’t feel anxious.
FaithI often get asked how I have adjusted to such a devastating diagnosis and the effect on my life. There’s a one-word answer: God #pulmonaryfibrosis #ILD #lungdisease Click To Tweet
God gives believers spiritual gifts that are meant to bless others. I think that God has given me the gift of faith. Because of God, I have to work less to trust Him during difficult times than others. I am grateful for this gift and hope it is an encouragement to you.
These verses encourage me so…
“Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.”
~ Ps 73:23-26
As with all of life, we have our part, and God has His. My part is to:
- Notice God’s blessings, and keep track of them
- Have a balance of a positive attitude while still acknowledging harsh realities.
- Not focus on the negatives
- Notice what God does for me
- Treat myself with kindness and compassion.
All of these practices have made handling difficult times easier. You can learn and equip yourself too.
Ask yourself good questions:
How have I handled things in the past?
What strengths and abilities have helped me in the past that can help me now?
How has God helped me in the past?
How is God helping me now?
What am I thankful for?
Who do I need to express gratitude toward?
Do I tell God how grateful I am for all He does for me?
I’d love to hear from you!
How has your faith helped you during tough times? What verses bring you comfort? What skills help you get through tough times?
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