When Life Stinks

liveWe have all heard the phrases “Life is Hard”, “What don’t kill you, only makes you stronger” and “Suck it up, buttercup!” While there is a lot of truth in those little phrases, the reminder is not very helpful when life is beating you down. My family has been beat down for the past couple of years. I am not going to go into all the details but there have been many days where we just wanted to give up and run away. It’s been hard, real hard. Quite frankly, impossible. There have been times when we felt sorry for ourselves and questioned God’s goodness. We have felt hopeless and helpless. In our human nature, bad stuff is hard to understand. However, we have come to realize God has a plan in this beautiful mess and we have learned so much along the way.

So how have we survived? Quite frankly, we couldn’t have without divine intervention. God working on our behalf, showing us, guiding us, directing our path and holding our hand when we cried. I believe that sometimes He allows these things so that the greatest love story, His love for us, can be shown through our lives.

It hasn’t been easy, but things are starting to turn around for us. Change hasn’t come without sacrifice and a lot of hard work. In the next few weeks, I will be sharing several posts about this journey we have been on as a family. I hope these posts encourage you to live life, not just exist on this earth. We are destined for so much more than what we have accomplished. For now, here are a couple of practical steps to get you started on your “Best Life” journey!

Reflect
What matters most in your life? We have recently heard about people losing their homes to fire, families losing loved ones, people battling tremendous sickness and people who have lost it all. This made us think, what is really important? Is it the stuff or “us?” Our home, our belongings, our finances, everything can be lost in a matter of minutes. To us, what really matters is the relationships we cultivate in this life.

Identify Stressors
Secondly, we have had to identify stressors. Finances is the big one for us. We have always been very good with our finances and lived within our means. When my husband went back to school to get his Masters in Mental Health Counseling, things were tight, very tight. We had very little income as he completed a year-long internship in his field. We lived off credit, which is not a wise choice, but there wasn’t really many options. We still haven’t recovered financially from him going back to school. Our quality of life is hurt, tremendously, by this stressor. It affects our mental and physical health. What we can do for God is inhibited by the need to pay debt. It feels like we are in the Bermuda Triangle being sucked in deeper to the middle with no way of escape.

All we knew to do was to pray and seek God. There is great hope in His answer, but it isn’t going to be easy. He has directed us to become debt free. When I say debt free, I mean no car payment, no mortgage, no student loan, nothing. To do this, we are going to have to make some really, really tough decisions about our stuff. It’s not going to happen over night and we are going to have to be disciplined. For us, it is worth it to have the freedom to serve God in any way He needs us to and to be able to spend quality time with one another and make memories. We have decided that those things mean way more to us than the stuff. Please know, as I write this, debt and finances are very personal and different for everyone. The drastic measures we are planning to take has come with a great deal of thought, prayer and conviction from God on our part. What is right for us, may not be the right financial path for you. My advice is, if finances is a stressor for you like us, pray about it. God will show you how He wants you to handle it.

Leave the “Pity Party”
It’s hard to not look at other’s lives and wonder why they have it so easy and we are always struggling. After all, we try to live for God, we are good people, we tithe and help others. Aren’t we suppose to be “Blessed”? I get it, I have been there. I’m still there lots of days. However, I believe, that everything we go through in life has a greater purpose. It’s time for us to quit feeling sorry for ourselves and comparing our situations to others. It is time for us to look to God and pursue the life He wants for us rather than the life that looks like others.

Make a Plan
So after you reflect and set your priorities right, identify your stressors, and decide that the pity party isn’t for you anymore, then you are ready to move on and live.  I believe that for my family, the best is yet to come and God hasn’t closed our book yet. I believe that for you too. So, pull up your big girl or boy pants and let’s get busy. Busy, making a plan for the future. Set realistic goals and do what it takes to make life better. Don’t just settle, there is so much more for you out there.

What do you need to change in your life? Are you struggling like me? Share your thoughts so I can pray for you. How are you going to get started on your “Best Life?” For our family, we really began to focus on our situation after going through a study with my church by Rick Warren called Transformed: How God Changes Us (Small Group Study Guide).  The principles in this study really helped us to focus on many areas of our life such as physical health, mental health, relational health, financial health, etc. This study has been life changing for us. I would encourage you to find a small group of friends and study this together!!!!

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