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I have an ironic story for you. I decided to write about keeping faith during the roller coaster of life and how to not allow one set back to spread into others. With my family on vacation, I spent quite a bit of time working while riding in the car. But, I didn’t quite finish it off. I wanted to conclude it in a great way, and I just didn’t have it yet, so I saved it to finish later.
Then, while sitting in a beautiful beach condo, I had my ending, so I grabbed my computer, opened the document, and it’s all gone. Everything I wrote disappeared.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know what to do. I knew instantly there was no way that I could recreate the exact message, and I was disappointed because I thought it was what people needed to hear. The words just flowed out of me while writing that original piece. Understandably, I was upset.
But, right before I put my head down on the table to cry, I remembered something. My faith is what helps get me through these times. And if I let the fact that all my work was lost spiral me down into a dark place, feeling sorry for myself, while I sat on vacation with the ocean outside of my window, I would be doing the exact thing that I was supposed to be writing to encourage you not to do.
Then I started thinking; maybe my first piece wasn’t what you needed to read. Maybe this new message that I get to create is something that will reach you, even just one of you, in a way that you need it to at the moment. Do I know that is true? No, but I have to believe it because if not I will call the whole thing quits and not write anything.
I need faith to get me through things. If I don’t have my faith, I don’t have anything. Here’s an example:
This summer my husband and I have been working to sell our house. We want to move from Michigan to Florida. We have wanted to for years. Our daughters are getting older and we were trusting that this was the year to make it happen. We planned, we talked, we prayed, and we strategized. Then, we listed our house on the market. It sold within three days. We actually got to pick between two offers that were over our asking price. Awesome, right?
Well, it should have been.
We started to look for new homes. We began to look at schools for the kids and new jobs. My husband gave his notice at work. And, then one morning my phone beeped with a text from our real estate agent. At the last minute, after the inspection, renegotiations, and appraisal, the buyer couldn’t get financed despite being preapproved. Suddenly we were stuck. We invested money into an inspection we were required to pay, but the deal died. And, we were back at the starting point but now with my husband about to be without a job.
I would like to say that I handled it in a good way. I would like to say that I was mature, put it in perspective with the problems of others, and didn’t allow it to push me into a depression. But, I can’t say that. Instead of dealing with it appropriately, I lost it.
I spent several days just going in my closet on and off and sitting on the floor and crying. I began to doubt everything. I believed wholeheartedly that this move was happening and that it was supposed to happen. I thought the timing was right and everything had been running along perfectly so my daughters could be in their new home and new schools for the start of the school year. But, with one beep of my phone, all of that came crashing down.
It was a rough time. I lost my faith and my hope. I couldn’t see the point in all that happening, and I didn’t know what to think or how to proceed. I felt abandoned.
After several days of this, I decided to pick myself up off the floor and move forward. I broke out my Bible. I read some scripture and found a few motivational quotes. Then I decided to believe that I would get through and even though I didn’t know what the exact plan was at that point that it would be ok. Just making that simple decision turned everything around inside of me. I had my faith back, and I had my hope back, not because my circumstances changed, but because my attitude and thoughts changed.
Life is a lot like a roller coaster. It is full of ups and downs, crazy turns, and unexpected changes. Sometimes there are these large hills that you slowly work your way up. You know something major is going to happen, and you have no choice but to ride along. The anticipation builds as you get closer and closer, and then in just an instant, the slow ascent changes over to a crazy plummet downward.
When you are on a roller coaster, the entire ride is linked together. It has to be, or else it wouldn’t work. The momentum that you get from going down one hill is what helps to pull you up the next. Each crazy turn and drop interact together to create the ride experience that you receive.
Life works the same way. Everything is connected. What happened in the past affects the way you think about certain things in the future. Each part of your life relates. The good times impact the bad times and the bad times affect the good times. But, unlike when we ride a roller coaster, in life, we do have some control. We always have a choice in how we think and respond to situations.
I reacted badly to my bad news, and it affected every part of my life. I couldn’t focus on my work. I didn’t spend good quality time with my children. I couldn’t be happy for other people. All I could think about was my bad situation and how lost I felt. But, I didn’t need to act like this. The problem was I lost my faith and felt hopeless about everything. Had I chosen to stay strong in my faith from the start, even though I didn’t have all the answers, I could have been much more productive.
Here are some ways to keep your faith when going through a rough time:
I have many examples of times in my life when things worked out when they shouldn’t have. Times when there were more bills left than money at the end of the month. And, times when I thought I had lost everything and everyone in my life. But, I have made it through all of those situations. I didn’t always know how it was going to work out, or even what steps to take at times but it always did.
When you are facing a difficult season, and feel like you are losing faith and hope, think back to a time in life when you felt the same way, and it worked out for you. Take confidence from the fact that you are still here. That situation was not the end of you, and this one will not be either.
Your words and your thoughts matter. During those several days that I spent crying, I can assure you I was not thinking hopeful thoughts or anything based on my faith. I was thinking how horrible everything was. I was thinking about the fact that we were never going to move and that everything always goes wrong for us.
Avoid words like ‘always,’ ‘everything,’ and ‘never.’ There are very few times that those words ever apply to a situation, and yet using them can send you into a downward spiral.
While you are at it, do not dwell on your circumstances. If something goes wrong in one area of your life, or even multiple areas, do not get stuck in it. Force yourself to think about other things, talk about other things, and do other things.
Focusing on faith means different things to different people, but regardless, it means taking action. For me, this means stepping aside to a quiet place, turning on worship music, praying and reading through some of the Bible. For others, it might mean taking a walk through the woods, finding other people to serve, or making a list of the things you have to be thankful for in your life. Whatever activity helps you to strengthen your faith is exactly what you need to do in those moments that you are ready to lose all hope. Even if you don’t feel like it, take the step to do it.
Keeping your faith is the key to maintaining hope through difficult times. Take the time to put things in perspective before falling into the pit of despair. Your faith is the one thing that can’t be taken away from you by someone else, so no matter how dire your situation seems, don’t lose your faith.