Challenging seasons can leave us feeling overwhelmed and fearful about what this season may mean for our future. We constantly ask yourselves “will it be okay?”. While we may not like the result of the season we are in, there are 3 key things that have helped us reframe how we feel about the situation and move forward with confidence.
Like many of you, I’ve faced a variety of challenges throughout my life. Having dwarfism has brought about numerous physical challenges related to short stature, surgical procedures, and arthritis. In 2017, my wife and I had our 3rd child who spent the first 10 months in the NICU.
Yes, those are unique challenges related to our physical condition. In addition to these challenges, we face many of the same kind challenges that others face. Below are a list of 3 things that are consistent for us to get through these seasons effectively
1. Remember that challenging seasons remind us that we are not in control
It can sometimes seem as though our most frustrating challenges come just when things re going our way. As great as these successful seasons are, they pose a real real threat — cause us to forget that we are still humans living in a broken world. Challenging seasons, then, can rock us on our way back to this reality. This is especially true when we find ourselves troubleshooting one life problem only to have something entirely unrelated pop up. As the saying goes, when it rains, it can often feel like it’s pouring and we’ve lost all control.
What I have discovered to be equally or more challenging than the challenge or painful season is the transition from a overly positive or “normal” season of life into a crisis. Life happens fast, and it is sometimes difficult to feel how fast things are moving until we find ourselves in the midst of something different. Before we know it, we’ve gone from sunshine and rainbows to the middle of a deep, dark, and dense forrest. It is all too easy to look around, forget the good times and tell ourselves how hard things have always been.
I believe that challenges are there to remind us that we are human, bad things will and do happen, and that it is a part of this thing we call life. Challenging seasons should cause us to be thankful for the prior good season we just enjoyed, seek what God is trying to show us in the current struggle, and look ahead to bluer skies ahead. Furthermore, if we are taking the time to be still and take in the scenery around us, even if it’s bad scenery, it will be easier to reflect on this and the lessons learned later when you find yourself in a positive season of your life.
Distressful seasons to not hold us back, but merely slow us down. Maybe slowing down is exactly what God is wanting us to do
2. Strengthen positive relationships around you
In 2014, my family and I made the move to Franklin, Tennessee after I accepted a job at Ramsey Solutions. It didn’t take long after moving here to realize that we were in quite the dilemma — finding a church. Unlike other areas we had lived in, the Nashville area would rich in the amount and quality of churches in the area. If we had attempted to visit every church in the area in order to “cover all the bases”, we would have been visiting a new church every weekend for the next several years!
To prvent ourselves from being completely overwhelmed, my wife and I came up with a plan. Visit a church and keep returning until we felt it was time to move on and keep looking. We visited many churches only once, but several we attended a few times before realizing something about it wasn’t for us in that season.
Ultimately, we landed on Church of the City in the Spring of 2015, after I heard the lead pastor speak at a devotional held weekly at Ramsey. Although the church would experience rapid growth during our first year there, we managed to get involved with what COTC called “Community Groups” (think Small Groups). We met weekly (taking breaks during the summer time and holiday seasons). It was this group experience that took us from simply experiencing our local church community to truly becoming apart in it.
In February 2017, our lives were turned upside down as our third son was born and went on to experience a long, exhausting NICU stay that spanned 10 months and 3 local hospitals. Every day, we drove back and forth between home and hospital, experiencing a wide range of emotions that often swung from joy to intense fear in short order.
The community we had been apart of wasted no time to get involved to help us however they could. From providing childcare to meals to evenings of just listening to our concerns and gravest fears related to our son’s health, they were right there alongside us. Today, the men of this group are like brothers to me and the wives of the group are like sisters to my wife. We don’t meet weekly any more and some of us have moved on to become part of other church communities. However, the guys and gals still get together in our own groups on a monthly basis to catch up over dinner and drinks.
To say this group was vital for us is a massive understatement. We went from being apart of this community to becoming deeply invested in it. I can tell you with certainty that the challenge of our son’s journey highlighted the importance of a strong community and relationships around us. We never had to be alone in the process and that is what got us through such a challenging season of our lives.
3. Reorient yourself around your principles
This one might seem odd. Often times, challenging seasons are where you feel like you are in sheer survival mode, not thinking about your principles.
It is too tempting to live in survival mode and lose sight of your “why” and the principles that make up who you are and the decisions you make. Pretty soon, we start to let fear or the desire to “zone out” cause us to stray from our principles, habits, and values.
Resist this temptation. take time to journal, reflect on what makes you who you are and how you’ve utilized those principles to problem solve and get through hard times in the past. If you aren’t careful, you will slip into a state of apathy and begin to feel like you’ve lost who you are. This will cause you to do things your “normal” self would never do!
If you are in a challenging season right now and feel like you are just getting by or lost your sense of true self, don’t fret. Be intentional about journaling and even do a self assessment about why you feel like you’ve lost your way and habits that you need to reinstate into your daily routine.
Challenging seasons are hard. In those moments, it’s so important to remember that there is a God in control who has got this, constantly connect with family and friends who are there to help you through it, and remind yourself who you are and the principles that drive your decision making. The challenging season is just that, a season.