Then it happened...
The job was lost; the house fell through; the loan denied; the pregnancy test was negative...again; the diagnosis came back malignant; or insert your own life-changing event here.
All of a sudden you find yourself completely surrounded by the unknown. Just yesterday you knew exactly what to do next - what needed to be crossed off the list. You knew where you and your family were going, and just how to get there. Life wasn't perfect, of course, but it was at least somewhat predictable.
Now? Nothing seems certain. And you're completely paralyzed by the complete enormity of it all. You want to just do something about it. You want to say the magic word or make the perfect choice to get things back on track. But sometimes...
Sometimes there is literally nothing that can be done, except wait. And that is a scary, painful place to be. The worst part of it is, while you are stuck in this purgatory, the rest of the world just zooms on with life as if everything were a-okay. There are still meals to be cooked, homework to do, laundry to fold. It may get done, but it is likely done in a fog with your mind a million miles a way wading through all the what-ifs.
Sister-friend, I have been in the purgatory place of waiting. I've been in that time when there is absolutely nothing that can be done - your entire life outside of any control of your own hands. And, friends, I know how scary and painful and frustrating it can be. I know.
So can I encourage you with five things that we can do in those in-between times when we don't know what to do?
1. Pray. I know. You've been doing that. Likely an ongoing, inarticulate gut-soul kind of praying. Keep at it. When the bile rises to the back of your throat because the thoughts of what could happen are just that terrifying, bring it to Him. Even just a, "Help me, Lord!" will suffice. Bring even the most minute concerns of your heart to His throne and lay it bare before Him. Even if you just aren't sure He is listening any more; even if anger roils in your heart towards what He has allowed, He can take it. Don't let the uncertainty drive a wedge between you and your Father. I have done that, and let me tell you - there is more peace to be found at the foot of His throne of Grace even when it seems He isn't listening than there is waging the abyss on your own.
2. Get in the Word. There are plenty of free online Bible resources. Check out Good Morning Girls, Pin God First, She Reads Truth, just to name a few. I would also highly recommend working through The One Year Book of Hope. What I love about this book is that it gets you deep in the Word of God, but in short snippets that are easy to digest at a time when hurt runs high and focus runs low.
3. Do something. Go out for a walk everyday. Join a play group. Snuggle up on the couch with the kids and popcorn for a movie. Set a routine for yourself and stick to it. Its tempting to hole up and stay in our jammies and weather out the storm. And there is a time for that. But after a few days you need to get out, get fresh air. Predictability, routine and stability - in as much as possible - is very important, particularly for the kiddos. Even if its just weekly story time at the library and church on Sunday, set a routine and stick to it.
4. Get outside yourself. Its so easy in difficult, uncertain times, to stay focused on ourselves and our troubles. Doing something for someone else helps get your focus off of your problems, and helps reset perspective and compassion for others - we are not the only ones struggling. So take some muffins to the nurses caring for your aging parent (no, you don't have to make them yourself!), send that Facebook message you keep thinking about, jot a note of encouragement on a cute card to your friend, volunteer at a local shelter or food pantry for an hour or two. The possibilities are endless, and it doesn't have to take a lot of time or (any) money.
5. Pray some more. You might find that you are closer to Christ during this time of crisis simply because you are more acutely aware of your desperate need for Him. That's not a horrible place to be. However, if you're like me, you want to pour your heart out to Him but find your mind struggles to stay focused for more than a moment or two - particularly in times of crisis. I love the Power of a Praying series by Stormie O'Martian. They help me stay focused, and give me a springboard and ideas for details about which to pray.
Are you in that purgatory place of waiting? Or have you been there before? What helped you most when you didn't know what to do?
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