“I’m really struggling right now. It’s never going to change. We’ll always be poor. I’ll never get a full night’s sleep. I don’t see any way it’s going to work out.” Are these statements really true? Probably not. But to be honest, these are thoughts that I’ve thought at one time or another. It took me many years to learn how to handle these thoughts, and I’m still in the classroom. But let me share some beginner lessons in what to do when you are struggling.
We don’t have control over the thoughts that pop into our heads, but we do have a choice about what we’ll do with them.
We can make a conscious choice as to whether a particular thought gets focus and attention, or whether we’ll direct our attention elsewhere. This one fact would have changed my life as a young mother, believe me.
For instance, if the thought “I’m really struggling right now” comes up, you can choose to dwell on it and think about all the reasons you have to struggle and work yourself into a pity party. Or you can choose to immediately drop that thought and think something along the lines of “I can handle this!” I highly recommend inserting Scripture at that point.
You may say “But I CAN’T handle this!” It may feel fake and wrong to say “I can handle this” when you don’t know if that’s true.
But hey, we say things we’re not really sure are true, all the time. “It’s never going to change.” “We’ll always be poor.” “I don’t see any way it’s going to work out.” We don’t know for sure that any of those things are actually true but we say them freely.
Many of us have thoughts that are spring-loaded to negative. We don’t dwell on that great vacation we had last year, but we automatically rehearse our hurt feelings about something our husband said last week.
Since we can’t tell the future, why not err on the side of hope? Lean towards thinking it’s all going to work out. Believe what God says is true, and act like it by thinking and speaking truth. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”
It may take a while for your emotions to catch up but you can still choose which path your thoughts will take. Emotions will eventually follow, maybe quickly and maybe slower, so stay with it.
Oddly enough, people boldly proclaim unbelief and negative predictions. It’s common and acceptable to say things like “I got up on the wrong side of the bed. It’s going to be a terrible day!” Or how about “If I even LOOK at ice cream, I gain weight!” Friends nod in agreement and strengthen the power of those words!
Yet we often feel timid about speaking in faith. If we say something like “It’s going to be a great day!” others roll their eyes. If we talk about a goal we’re working towards, we are cautioned that it might not happen so we shouldn’t get our hopes up. Sometimes it even feels embarrassing to speak in faith and hope! Crazy, isn’t it? It’s like peer pressure to dumb down our hope. Do you think that God is pleased with our downer words? Last time I checked, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Words are powerful. Wear good words. My favorite necklaces and bracelets are inscribed with words like “Believe” and “Faith” and “Courage, Dear Heart.” Visionary words are posted on my bathroom mirror. Hopeful words are posted next to my desk. Every time I open my Bible I read powerful, life-giving words. Surrounding yourself with the right words can have an impact on your thoughts and belief.
Pay attention to your default thoughts and see if they are positive or negative. You may feel like you’re in the beginner’s class on dealing with feelings of struggle, but it will get easier with practice. You start with awareness, and hopefully you’ve just gotten some. Then it’s a matter of paying attention and taking thoughts captive. Nobody does this perfectly, so don’t despair. Just pull up your socks and keep going. Before you know it, you’ll graduate to the advanced lessons.
How do you surround yourself with good words? Favorite jewelry? Listen to podcasts? Worship music? Please share to inspire others!