First off, an apology. My email service went completely bonkers on me due to high subscription rates (a good problem), but the result was that you didn’t get your emails from me. Aaaargh! I’m working diligently to solve the problem, so please be patient with me! If you are a new subscriber and are waiting for your free Redefining the Quiet Time guide, it’s coming, I promise!!
That said, can I just heave a big sigh here? Wow. It’s been a rocky couple of weeks over here. I wrote this for you yesterday because I think maybe you can relate
Help Me, I’m Drowning
Even though I never said it out loud, I jinxed myself anyway.
While I sit at a stoplight on the way home from work one afternoon,the thought just breezes right on through my brain like the tiniest leaf fluttering across the sidewalk:
Everything’s going okay right now.”
I should’ve known better.
And thing is. . . life isn’t that hunky-dory. It’s okay. It still has it’s usual challenges, competing for my attention at every turn.
It’s just that right at that particular moment — in those few seconds at the stoplight — there weren’t any huge looming crises going on.
And I had the unbelievable gall to let the realization of it cross my mind.
A few days later the dam broke and the floodwaters came rushing in. And I’m struggling just to survive the storms of life.
The last few weeks have just about done me in. I am (metaphorically speaking) dog paddling as fast as I can in this raging torrent, just trying to keep my head above water.
This is, I know you understand. You know, right? ‘Cause you’ve been there, too.
The psalmist wrote about this exact thing, this feeling like you’re going under any minute.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.” —Psalm 69:1-2 (NIV)
Yeah, me too. I’m there right now.
I hope it comforts you to know that we all experience it. There is no magic pill to swallow that will keep life from doing its thing. Usually we ride the waves the best we can, and we can manage okay even when things are stormy. But every once in a while there’s a giant swell that knocks us down, smacks the breath right out of us.
So, what do you do when the waters are up to your neck?
To be honest, I’m not sure. I know I don’t have all the answers. But I have been here before. And I can at least tell you what — in my experience — helps a little.
3 Tips to Help You Survive the Storms of Life
1. Ride the Waves
Childbirth pains come in waves. If you can breathe through the contractions, feel the rhythm of them, it’s supposed to make the whole experience easier. Of course, for me, an epidural made the whole experience MUCH easier.
But think about the waves.
Life’s kind of like labor pains. The big things come in waves, but eventually they roll back out. We might end up with everything a big ol’ mess, but like the paper towel commercial says, “Life’s a mess. Clean it up.”
And so we do.
If the waves are threatening to drown you right now, I totally feel your pain. But I have to remind myself — and so I remind you as well — waves are always in motion. The tide comes in fierce, but it always rolls back out again.
2. Cry for Help
It’s right there in the Psalm I quoted earlier, this cry to the only one who can truly save us when life is slowly suffocating us.
Sounds almost trite, I know, but it helps. I promise. Talk to God and tell him how desperate, how helpless, how completely overwhelmed you feel.
He may not offer an instant solution, but at least you can take comfort in knowing he hears and understands.
Two of my favorite prayers to offer when I don’t even know how to pray are these:
We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” —2 Chronicles 20:12
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.” —Psalm 69:2 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)
I say these prayers often. Because most of the time I’m clueless and powerless to get myself out of hard places.
3. Just keep swimming.
I could go a couple of ways here. There’s the valid idea that when we are metaphorically drowning, we should just relax, let go, and float in the arms of Jesus. Let him be our lifeboat. I’ve written about it before.
But today I’m going a different direction.
Sometimes when we’re drowning, the best thing we can do is to keep swimming.
By that I mean, keep the daily movement of life going. Fall back on the good habits you know and trust. Keep some semblance of routine going, no matter how small. Keep doing the next thing and waking up the next day and putting one foot in front of the other. Step by step.
The little daily tasks are a source of comfort if we can force ourselves to keep moving.
Cook that next meal. Wash your face. Go to work. Read before bed. Get up early and have those few moments of quiet time and a cup of coffee before the day begins.
Do it all again tomorrow.
Relish the normality of it all.
This much we know for sure: life isn’t going to be smooth-sailing. There will be rocky places and if you’re not there right this minute, that’s grace. But your turn’s coming.
I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone today. I’m writing to remind myself what to do while I’m here in this place of wide-open floodgates.
- Ride the waves
- Cry for help
- Just keep swimming
I think — I hope — I might just make it to tomorrow.
P.S. If you missed the last two posts I wrote (since they never got sent to you!) here are the links: