I’ve been sick. That always makes everything else more of a burden. Smaller things will shake me and make me despair more easily. The temptation is to say, “Just let the bills sit there and work go on without me. I just want to wrap myself in a blanket with the cat in my lap and watch Netflix.”
I know I’m not the only one. My daughter called me feeling sick, wishing she could temporarily not be in charge of 1 baby and 1 toddler so she could just sleep and have her mommy come take care of her. But life doesn’t allow us to set it aside and take a break from it. Life and responsibilities keep coming at us, sick or not.
But I realized that my physical feelings from fighting off this virus and trying to fend off an infection of whatever was settling in my chest were affecting how I saw everything else. My daughter mentioned how she was struggling with her emotions more while she was sick, and I realized that I was as well. My words to her were words meant for myself as well – we have to remember that this too shall pass, and that we cannot take these emotions seriously. We MUST keep perspective.
I think the one thing that over 6 years of Recovery ministry has done for me (combined with simply getting older and trying to learn life lessons) is give me perspective. When I was younger and something happened to me for the first time, it felt like life was going to end right then and there. When it happened another time, I would forget my lessons learned from the first time and needlessly go through it as if it was something new. But at some point, after it happened enough times, I could prepare myself for it and realize that it would pass soon enough – we just have to hold on until then. (That time of the month is a good example of this – you knew it was coming, and had to plan around it. Also, repetitive fights between family members would fall into this category – we respond automatically, without thinking, as if it was the first time we’d had this argument.)
My point is that most of us have been around for a while. We have felt good and we have felt bad, and many of us have survived some very painful things in life. We are still here, some thriving and some just surviving. But we are still here, and we still have a chance to start over right here, right now. In order to NOT go around that same mountain one more time, we have to learn our life lessons AND apply them to the next thing that happens.
For me, I’ve been sick dozens of times before. I know this sickness is not unto death, and it will pass eventually, and I’ll physically and mentally feel better. I’ve done our business and personal taxes for decades, but if I’m not careful and keep perspective, I will dread it and ruin all of the months leading up to their due dates. Perspective tells me that these things are just a part of living, and I need to steel myself to get through them and then move on.
So if you are struggling with anything – sickness, finances, relationships, etc. – you can look back over your life and encourage yourself by seeing how you came through those things and survived. However, to be victorious, you need to look back over those episodes and decide what you learned from those events. See what made your life more miserable and avoid those things this time, and what made your life more enjoyable and focus on doing those things again.
Don’t treat whatever you are going through as if it is the first time it has happened. It most likely isn’t, so apply your historical life lessons to this episode and make your life better by it. By doing this, you will relieve yourself of much of the unnecessary emotional baggage you tend to pick up when things do not go as you had planned or hoped. You will also be fashioned more into the image of Christ as you practice patient endurance with whatever life throws at you.
1. What are you dealing with right this moment? When have you faced this or something similar in the past?
2. What lesson did you (or you can now) learn from that? How could you have handled it better? What made the situation worse?
3. What can you do to practically make this situation better today?