I’ve written on this topic several times. I almost avoided it this week because I figured no one wanted to read what I have to say about this any more. Then I had a phone call with my mom and remembered that facing difficulty is never like the last time you faced it. Or at least it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. The time I didn’t know if I would make it through school was different than the time I had an unexpected major expense and much different than the time I had to end a close friendship. And because life’s hardships come at us unexpectedly or even expectedly but still hard, I thought I’d share yet another reminder about how to navigate tough times.
Last week was the ultimate roller coaster. I had a large grant due at work; I took my car to the mechanic for something I thought was no big deal; I had pages to review for my writing group; I hosted my book club; I found out my car repairs would cost several thousand dollars; I helped a friend at the polls on election day; I had a job interview; I moved all of my things out of my room in the house I own into the house I live in; and I had plans to travel to Memphis for a bridal shower. Last week was the equivalent of the third day on a new diet. It felt like that time I offered to bring the baked mac-n-cheese to the potluck but my family suggested I bring the plates instead. It felt like that hour before my friend came to pick up her active four-year-old whom I had been babysitting all day. It was rough. It hurt my feelings. It was rude. By Wednesday, I was ready for it to end. I did not make it to my writing group or the bridal shower. I did not get my car repaired. I didn’t post to my blog like I promised myself I would every week. I was not a good wife or a good Christian because I definitely had some words for God. They weren’t bad words but they were strong. He knew I had an attitude for sure.
So, in the face of a pretty tough week I had to remind myself how to act. I had to practice gratitude out loud. I had to talk to myself like this was a game and I was the best player on the field. Because no matter how much hardship I’ve gone through in the past, when it comes up again I still forget that I’m a warrior. It’s easy to know what to do in the abstract but hard to do it when it matters. I know I’m supposed to look for the good in every situation, count my blessings, put things in perspective, take it one day at a time, do what I can with what I have and let go of the rest. In the moments of adversity that come at me faster than I can process – like when that man emailed a quote for several thousand dollars worth of car repairs and didn’t even call me to discuss what was going on – among the first things I want to do are cuss, punch, read for filth, give up, eat delicious snacks, and cry. Those are my initial reactions. Always. Idk why I’m like this.
I do think, however, that the more I practice replacing those kind of responses with the harder work of going inward, thinking about my emotions, assessing what the problem actually is and the solutions I have at my disposal to solve it, the better I will get at leading with these responses to hardship. I’m not sure. I don’t have it figured out. But maybe I’m right. I’ll report back the next time something hard comes up. Y’all pray for me and for every person who has to encounter me when I’m upset. Poor things.