Monday, April 30, 2012

When Life Disappoints

Today was the day we had to know--staying or going--Josh's contract for the next school year needed to be signed.  The past few months we had set our sights on a few jobs that would take us back to the Lincoln area or neighboring communities.  Josh had sent out his resume' and he was invited to interview at several different schools.  We waited and hoped and prayed.  It's not that Josh doesn't enjoy his job here--he does--and he really likes the students.  And it's not that we hate Arapahoe, because it's a nice little town and we've met some nice people.  It's just that we miss our life back in Lincoln . . . me especially.

When we had no word from two schools we were waiting on last Friday we knew then no good news would be coming. Phone calls today confirmed that.  I've had a weekend to work through my disappointment and resign myself to the fact there will be no moving boxes in my future and no anticipation of another new chapter.  I would like to tell you I brush these situations off and bounce right back.  But I don't.  It takes a lot of work for me to get back in state of mind where I don't believe the sky is falling in.

I'm assuming I'm not alone in going through periods of discouragement and disappointment?  We all have our situations and circumstances where the hurt stays fresh for an indefinite amount of time and the longing and wistfulness linger.  While I would like to curl up in bed sobbing into my pillow (because life is unfair and why does God hate me and why can't anything ever go my way and why does everything work our for everybody but me???) having a grand pity party complete with chocolate or ice cream (or both) it really does nothing to help me move on. (Shocking, I know.) ;o)

So, what do I do?  Over the years I've developed an "action plan" to move me from "woe is me" to "life goes on."  Here is my list of what I find most helpful when I am down-in-the dumps:
1.  Think on what is true. Philippians 4:8 says " Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  When I think on what I want I'm only reminded of what I can't have.  It makes me grumpy. While I want to move, what is true is that I live here--my thoughts must end right there. I can't let them traipse into all the beautiful little places I would like to wander with them--it is completely destructive.  Favorite book on this subject--

2.  Remember the ways God has worked things out in the past.  I love the story from Joshua 4 where the Israelites cross the Jordan River on dry ground.  God commands them to gather stones and build a memorial there to remember how God worked that situation out for them.  We all need to have those markers to return to--those hard situations that seemed so impossible and insurmountable--how did God work that out for your good?  The answers aren't always clear when you are in the middle of a trial.  Sometimes it takes a few years (or maybe a lifetime?) of perspective to really understand what God was doing at the time.  But we know because of Romans 8:28 that God is working everything together for our good and we have to cling to that promise when life doesn't make much sense.

3.  Pray for other people and practice some "random acts of kindness."  If I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself one of the best things I can do is pray for others who are struggling right now.  More often than not they are going through things that make my problems look pretty silly in comparison.  Look for ways to be a blessing to someone else.  Jesus-Others-You  . . . a great way to spell joy. ;o)

4.  Make a project list.  So, I can't move back to Lincoln, but what can I do in Arapahoe right now?  It's a way for me of putting "feet" on thinking what is true.  I can't plan a new home to decorate but I can paint that dresser that's been sitting in the basement awaiting attention.  Creating and making pretty things makes me happy and when my hands are busy so is my mind, leaving it less time to dwell on what is not true.

5.  Clean and organize.  I know that sounds silly, but I'll never forget when I found out about my brain tumor and had so many different meetings with doctors in those first few weeks following the diagnosis.  It was really easy to worry myself into an upset stomach. I remember doing the dishes and feeling immense satisfaction at the fact that here was an area I had control over.  I couldn't change the fact there was something growing in my head but I could have complete authority over the fact my dishes were washed.  I've found this true over and over--whenever I am upset or worried about a situation the best thing to do is the next thing.  Once again busy hands make a busy mind and I don't feel so bad about the situations I can't control.

And that's what I'll be up to these next days and weeks (months and years . . .). ;o)  Reminding myself again from Isaiah 26:3 "The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee."  And ultimately that's the goal--steady on.


Tiff said...

I have been there. I know exactly how you're feeling. You will make it through, and with each passing moment God will begin to show you why he needs your family in the place that you are at. Time is good for the soul...and when you do move back to "home" some day (you will) you can look back and see how God has completely blessed you during your time in Araphoe. Much love and prayers for you, friend. Remember this song....
"I will sing of God's mercies. Every day, every hour, He gives me power. I will sing and give thanks to thee...for all the dangers, toils and snares that He has brough me out. He is my God and I'll serve Him. No matter what the test (even if it's living in Arapahoe a little longer :). Trust and never doubt, Jesus will surely bring you out. He's never failed me yet!"

sarah j. said...

i will be praying for you friend! our first year in Vegas was really hard for me, but, like you, i learned how God is so good! it's amazing how He can use the hardest things to bring about the most joy! your whole family will be in in my prayers.

Kathryn said...

So *many* hugs and prayers to you, my sweet friend! I *know* you are trusting the Lord and I *know* He is at work.....but I also know those emotions are a tricky, tricky thing! Perhaps the Lord is giving you another year so your children can continue their digging adventures and strike oil in the backyard!? ;)

Anna said...

Great reminder, Janna! Thanks for these words of encouragement...I'll keep praying for you guys as you seek to honor the Lord with your godly attitude and frame of mind. I was convicted yesterday of my complaining attitude (and I DON'T have anything to complain about...really just silly little 'nothings.') But someone said there really is no provision for complaining in the Word of God...and instead I should be doing to extreme opposite--worshiping, thanking God for the amazing blessings I have. THANKS for your gracious words of exhortation here too...may we all be filling our minds with God-honoring thoughts. Have a blessed week, dear friend!! *hugs*

Brooke said...

Oh friend, hurting with you, praying for you. Just "doing the next thing" is a very good practice, it's gotten me through many a trial. Love you!