This is not the way my life was supposed to go.
Have you ever said this to yourself? Or maybe just me.
We all have hope for our lives.
Maybe it’s you—the wife. Sitting on the couch feeling isolated from your husband. Sleeping in the same home together but living two different lives. You don’t even recognize the couple you have become. This was not the way you hoped your marriage would be.
Or are you the mom who no longer recognizes your child? You sit looking at baby pictures remembering all your hopes for the all the experiences you thought you would have with your new little one. You think of extracurricular activities, afterschool chats, and first dates. Your heart was not prepared for an angry teenager, who has withdrawn. You begin to mourn what you thought you would have, and hope seems so far away.
Maybe you find yourself 30, no husband, no kids, no degree and no closer to your dreams. You listen to people ask you questions about when are you getting married or when are you going to start that career. Of course, you thought things would look different by now, but it doesn’t. You find yourself beginning to doubt the plan God has for your life.
Sitting in the most challenging season of your life it can be easy to lose hope. Our hearts get broken. Our will is tested. Life just gets hard. During those hard seasons is when our hope can wane.
Hope helps us to believe that our relationships with our spouses and/or our children can be restored. Hope propels us forward in our dreams when everyone else has given up. Just a glimmer of hope keeps us from walking away and giving up.
As long as there is breathe in our bodies, we can choose to put our faith in a God who can put together the pieces of our heart and give us hope for the future. We can regain our hope.
Here are three ways that you can start today to choose hope in spite of the difficulties of life.
When life is hard, we can seek comfort in all sorts of ways. We run to food, to alcohol, to control, or even to our friends to ease the discomfort and pain we are experiencing. None of this will be enough. It is when we choose to be in the presence of Christ will we experience a renewal in our hope.
In the difficult moments, God wants us to seek Him in His word, in prayer, and at the altar. He wants us to cling to him, casting all of our cares in His capable hands (Psalm 55:22).
He doesn’t promise that life will be easy. He doesn’t guarantee life goes our way.
But He does promise that if we keep our eyes focus on Him (Isaiah 40:31), He will give us the strength to walk the journey before us.
So our words have to be more focused on His truth than our situation.
- Am I praying scripture over the situation?
- Am I taking captive thoughts that keep me focused on what I cannot control.
Maybe just maybe, if we continue to keep our hearts centered on seeking God through the fear, through the pain, through the bitterness, we will start to notice a change in us.
It’s up to us to cultivate courageous faith in spite of the hardships of life. When we do, our circumstance may not change, but our response to it changes everything.
When life becomes hard, and we began to lose our hope, it is easy to believe we are alone. We begin to create false thoughts like “No one will understand” or “They won’t love me if.” Then just like that, our world becomes smaller and smaller by the day. We share less. We isolate more.
When we connect to a healthy community, we can express our feelings and experiences without judgment or ridicule. Connecting to our community can help us see situations from a fresh perspective while encouraging us to take accountability for our actions. These people are present in our lives in the good and challenging moments of life. So, let them in. Allow others to be there for you. You will be surprised how lighter our load can be when we choose to share the weight with others.
Remember, your community should encourage you to see hope and God’s truth in your difficult season. Does your community lead you to God first? Does your community stretch and motivate you to apply God’s word to your situation? Does your community check on you and celebrate how God is moving in your situation?
For some of us, we realize that we have lost hope and have begun a downward spiral. A low moment turns into a week of withdrawal, that becomes a month with depressive symptoms. Your ability to function at work, in your home, and in your relationships has been negatively impacted by this mood you can’t seem to shake. An important step is being willing to recognize early on when to seek help outside of your relationships and community.
These continual feelings of distress can be addressed within the care ministry within your church or with a professional therapist. It is better to reach out for help before your thoughts cause you to make decisions that negatively impact you or those around you. Or maybe those around you have begun to express concern about how you have been acting lately. Consider seeking help if your distress leads to dangerous thoughts or behavior, like hurting yourself or others. Seek help and don’t wait!