Life comes at you fast. That was the catch phrase for Nationwide commercials, and I definitely agree. Over the last nine years, I’ve very intentionally slowed various aspects of my life so that I can attempt to be more present in the present. I eschew too much future planning that tends to overlook today. So you’d think I would have space for unplanned events and the unexpected…anything. But Life has a way of showing up when you least expect it, and recently it showed up at my door, rolled its eyes, sighed, dropped a whole load of problems, and ran.
Over the past three weeks, each of my girls had her own individual freakout followed by a breakdown. From college applications and interviews to admitting to undesireable grades to a near-miss car accident that induces panic when driving, my parenting skills have been tested over and over and over again.
Many of you with children have been through a meltdown or five – maybe more. Perhaps you’ve figured out what tools you need to access in such moments. When my girls were young, my toolbox included special toys, O cereal, fish-shaped crackers, juice, diapers, and the indispensible Mommy shirt.
Now that the girls are older, my toolbox includes hiking, school pickup, long talks, music, and, occasionally, a double chocolate chip Frappuccino. As parents, knowing our kids means knowing what will soothe and comfort them in times of trouble.
But what do you do when every person in your family is in crisis, including you? Who do you call? What tools to you grab? Do you even know what’s in the toolbox? Or did the right tool get left outside in the rain, or get loaned to a neighbor? Not asking for a friend; I’m asking for myself.
I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember, along with Seasonal Affective Disorder. After an unfortunate counseling experience, I decided to help myself by treating myself like a college class. I got materials, studied, reviewed, and made good progress over the last twenty years. Three years ago, after a troubling health report, I changed my lifestyle to include more physical activity. Now I exercise daily, because it lifts my mood in addition to all of the other benefits.
This winter, I’ve really been struggling. My mom’s been gone for 17 years, but the holidays this year were particularly hard. Fears and doubts plague me daily. I’m so thankful that my girls are old enough to do so many things for themselves, because sometimes I’m just not able to get it together to cook a meal. Often, I’m doing all that I can to get them where they need to go and go to work. I’m great at faking it, hoping I make it. I also know that I’m fortunate to have professional help available to me, and I know how to get it.
I’m telling you this to let you know that I have hope that I will feel better. My hope lies in my love of God, persistence in following Jesus, and belief in the Spirit as my guide. My number one tools in equal parts are the love of my family and friends, running and training for a 15K, and the Book of Psalms. The psalms offer such comfort for me; I know I’m not alone in my struggles when I read them. I encourage you to spend time reading psalms, or any part of the Bible that gives you strength.
Write your favorite psalm/Bible verse/prayer on a card and put it in your wallet. Ask one of your kids to color it, or write it for you. Reach for it when you feel stressed, worried, or afraid. If you need ideas for verses, you could Google a phrase or word to get a list of relevant scriptures. And try to get outside whenever you can, especially if the sun is out.
Here’s a prayer that comforts me from Prayers New and Old, published by Forward Movement. I pray that it offers you peace and comfort through whatever Life drops at your door.
St. Theresa’s Prayer
Let nothing trouble you;
Let nothing affright you;
All things are passing,
God never changes;
Patience obtains everything,
Nothing is wanting to one
who possesses God.
God alone suffices.
What prayers or scriptures do you turn to in times of trouble? What brings you joy no matter how you’re feeling?