Hello Everyone –
This is a really interesting subject that has been plaguing my mind forever, the idea of our tragedies being turned into triumphs by God. I think I see a lot of people on social media or at work or even my family, who seem like they have it all together. It feels like this is a common thing too, that people see everyone else and think that their lives must be perfect and we are the only ones who struggle. Well, if you have ever felt that way, I can tell you right now, you are not the only one. I have been in that same boat, even when I am on fire for Jesus and find so much joy in my life, there are still opportunities for struggle to creep in.
I think reflecting on the past is a pretty normal thing that people do when the new year rolls around. Everyone thinks about all of the things that they have done in the past year, all that they have accomplished, all of the fun adventures they went on, all of the great times they had that year. But, it seems it is often a habit of ours to say things like, “that was one of the worst and best years of my life.” I am guilty of this, I have said it many times before, but I think that is the caveat really. Pretty much every year we say something along these lines rather than just leaving it with all of the great things that happened that year because struggle is part of all of our journeys.
This year, as you might have seen in my post, “You are Loved, Child of God”, I tried to focus a lot on what good things happened, and not so much on the bad. I think the ideas that I talk about in that post, really help ground me in remembering that God has a plan for everything.
So today, I wanted to talk a little bit more about this idea of turning our tragedies into our triumphs. In my own life, I often get caught up in the business of everything, I get overly tired, stressed and work myself to the bone. I have always been a busy body and often times forget that it is okay, and good for me, to take time for myself and rest. This has always been one of my biggest struggles because when I do take time for myself, I often get consumed with things that are not restful, like scrolling through social media.
As a result of this life that I choose to live, one that is always moving and barely allowing time to breathe, I get burnt out very easily and everything kind of piles on top of each other until it seems to be just too much to bear. Because of my recent required relaxation time after my surgery, I had a large amount of time on my hands to literally do nothing. While I have talked about having immense regret for getting the surgery right at the beginning of my recovery, I know now, that God knew exactly what He was doing and why He was doing it.
For this specific situation, I needed rest and badly. I didn’t fully realize how exhausted every part of me was, until I was laying in bed 23 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 months. Right now, I feel this tragedy has turned to triumph and I finally feel close to the top of the mountain that I have been climbing for exactly 5 months now. But enough about my surgery because that is kind of besides the point.
I have found in my life, that God takes immense pain, despair, sadness, hurt, sorrow and tragedy and turns it into the most intense joy, happiness, peace, love and triumph that we can imagine. For me, it takes a lot of patience and a conscious effort, to understand that I do not understand. What I mean by that is, I have to remind myself on a regular basis that God is completely in control of my life and He has a miraculous plan for it. I have surrendered all of myself and my life to God, it rests in His hands.
While this is a hard reality for me sometimes because I crave the control over my life, I know that He is good and great and that by being faithful to His plan, there will be great good that comes to our lives. In times of struggle, it is hard to turn to God with understanding that He is in control. It is hard for me to look to Him and know that one day I will understand why things happened the way they did. My head often focuses on my current situation, the pain that I am feeling right now.
So how do I combat this? I have a few things that I do when I am feeling really anxious or sad to get my heart back aligned with God. The things that I do, may not be right for you. The things I do, are tailored very specific to me and how I connect with myself and with God the best and most effectively.
First, I will take a moment out of my day and write down all of the things I am grateful for. I do this because I often get in the mindset of everything is awful when in all reality it is just one or a small number of situations that are making me feel that way. I love seeing the words in my head on paper, it is therapeutic for me to write it down and have it physically in my hands. Sometimes I will do the opposite of this when I am really struggling. I will think about all of the things that are causing me anxiety or sadness, write them down, then rip the paper up into as many pieces as I can. This one helps me when I feel like I will never be free of whatever has a hold on me.
Another thing I do is treat myself to something I wouldn’t normally do. Like I said earlier, I have realized recently how little time I take for myself when I get really busy and how my time with Jesus gets shorter and shorter. So I will get my nails done or go get my favorite ice cream, something small to treat myself to a break. I usually try not to spend a whole lot of money when it comes to this so sometimes I even just block out an hour of sitting watching one of my favorite shows or one of my favorite books with my favorite cup of tea and some quiet time.
One of my other tendencies when I am struggling is to purge unnecessary things or possessions that I have. This happens usually twice a year where I feel the need to go through everything that I own and get rid of stuff I do not use or need. A few weeks ago, I heard someone talking about doing this as well and their motto was that if the thing didn’t bring you joy, you can part with it. So when I cleaned everything out this past week, I took a second to think about every item briefly and if it brought me joy. If it didn’t and I didn’t need it, I either threw it away or donated it.
Some other things that I like to do when I am feeling super stressed are spend quality time with my family and my dogs, reach out to an old friend and make time to go to lunch or coffee with them, make sure my bed is made, take a bath, or most often write here or in my journal.
I think it is important to after doing things to take care of ourselves and relieving stress, we reflect on the moments in our lives when we have felt like this before. There have been many times in my life where I have seen tragedy turn to triumph, so for me it is so helpful to look back and remember how God delivered me from what I had struggled with in the past.
I am curious though, what are some ways that help you destress and refocus on God?
I want to share a quick story that I have shared before about an life changing moment that I experienced over five years ago now and how God delivered me from that tragedy it brought. I have elaborated many times on the school shooting I was involved in when I was in high school and how much pain it brought to me, my family, and the community of people also effected by it.
This is one of the moments in my life that I thought, would define who I was. In some ways it has but in some ways I know that I have found a way to not let it have that power over me. After it happened, a lot of pain followed, I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder and just waiting to cry if ever it was brought up. I went to a therapist to work through the struggle and talked a lot with my family and others who knew a little more of what I was thinking.
I was angry at God, angry that there was no explanation of why, there was no logical answer as to why it all had happened. When I was at my lowest point, when I didn’t think I was ever going to feel better again, I turned to Jesus and He showed me exactly what to do next. He showed me that it was something I could grow from, something that could strengthen me. He showed me what a powerful impact it could have on people’s lives, how much my struggle and then strength, could help other people who were struggling too.
So when I am in a season of doubt or confusion, I think about how I rose from that tragedy. I think about how in the midst of it, I felt things that I feel now, and yet God delivered my heart from those feelings. Things of this world can be extremely heavy, they can weigh us down and make us feel like there is nothing we can do about it. But Jesus never leaves or forsakes us, and He is always there to answer our call when we need a Savior.