Be prepared

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Monday was a rough day. It wasn’t just one thing that had my mind muddled and my heart hurting. Several events happened that could have made the day a total loss. My head hurt, my stomach churned, and tears flowed freely several times throughout the day. Part of those tears traced my cheeks because I felt weary and beaten down. Another part of them was shed for friends I knew were going through very difficult days.

I am so grateful that no one came up to me and asked the question, “How are you feeling?” I would not have had sufficient words to describe all that I was experiencing. Not wanting to chat with anyone, I actually packed my backpack and computer and headed off to work in the silence and solitude of my home. I knew what I needed to do in order to be prepared for the war that was waging inside of me. Time alone with God, listening to praise music, reading the Bible out loud, and reclaiming my joy and hope in Christ was paramount in taking back the day and honoring God with it.

Knowing that you will face occasional rough days, how do you prepare yourself? Once you are in the midst of the sorrow, in the grasp of pain, and feeling pulled down beyond your control, what can you do to come up for air and find relief from the despair that challenges you? Having this plan prior to your hard times is important to surviving them when they hit. And hit is an appropriate description. No other verb suffices. Grief and pain attack. They place blows below the belt that are capable of flattening you for a long time if you have not strived to be prepared.

Preparation is key in walking a journey of grief and dealing with any kind of loss. While it may not be possible to foresee the future and guard against events that are inevitable in life, it is possible to place ammunition in your stockade for the battle. Those habits you choose before for the skirmishes of life will either make you or break you.

If your habit is to rely upon others first and foremost in the midst of hard times, then you will find yourself ill prepared. While friends are valuable and precious, nothing should take the place of going to God first with your questions, your hurts, and your needs. I admit I have not always done this. There have been times I have chosen to “chat” with others about my dissatisfaction in life. I am learning, though, that all that gets me is disappointment and further pain in the times I may perceive that my friends fail me. Doing this is also a disservice to my friends, as I need to set the example of taking life to God first.

Being prepared to deal with life’s blows actually occurs when you admit your weakness and inability to handle things and give your heart and mind to God. When you have that kind of relationship with God to begin with, nothing will be able to jar you off base so far that you cannot recover your footing and continue forward on your journey. “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

How are you doing at being prepared for further shock waves of grief? Can you honestly say you are ready to hold fast no matter what happens next? If not, reach up for help. Call out and admit your need. Find someone who has a solid, firm, prepared relationship with God and ask them to walk alongside you, pointing the way so you can make progress and be prepared.

Until next time –

Karen

Let me encourage you to share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Lie of Discouragement

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Discouragement is destructive and tears down the person experiencing it. In the midst of feeling discouraged, it can be difficult to lift ourselves up out of a pit that can seem very deep with walls too high to scale. My pastor recently preached on discouragement and the fact that we can expect it to come. He quoted from the book of Nehemiah 4 as he encouraged us to face this defeating emotion head-on.

As a person who is walking through her grief journey, I have personally faced a lot of discouragement off and on these past four years. Life is just harder when you are forced to go it alone many times. I am very grateful that God is walking it with me. Realizing that the holiday season can be harder for those grieving, I would like to put a twist on the word ‘discourage’ that may help you in the days to come.

D – Determine that you will spend time in God’s Word and focus on the positive things in your life. Dig deep if you must, but cling to those good things you find and the precious memories you hold.

I – Intentionality is your friend. You must make a conscious choice to let go of the discouragement that comes your way and move forward.

S – Substitute the feeling of discouragement with purpose. The reason you find yourself in the predicament of being discouraged is often because you fail to remember that you have worth as a person and serve great purpose in this life!

C – Courage will be required to move forward and climb out of your pit. You can do this! Remember Phil 4:13 assures you that you can do all things with the help of Jesus Christ when you are within His will. He does not desire for you to remain discouraged.

O – Opportunity is knocking at your door! When you feel yourself sinking into the depths of hopelessness and discouragement, it is an opportunity to experience the power of God! There is no time like the present to pray and seek God’s direction. Ask what it is that He desires you to do. Then do it.

U – Urgency is required. If you allow yourself to sit discouraged for long, you will continue to feel hopeless. It is a vicious spiral down. When you realize that discourage has entered your life, you need to immediately begin the work on moving past it.

R – Rally the troops. We are not meant to walk this life along. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Over the last four years, there have been some precious friends and family who have gathered around me. With their support, I have learned the necessary tools to move forward in life.

A – Argue with the lie. Discouragement is an attack of the enemy in hopes that you will give up and become ineffective in life. Refuse to allow him that victory.

G – Gear up for the battle. There is no doubt that discouragement will happen in life. Be ready and equip yourself for the assault. Reading and knowing the Bible is your best tool. Ephesians 6 teaches us how to put on the “Armor of God” in order to be armed and clad correctly.

E – Excitement should be your emotion. When you are attacked by discouragement, it is because the enemy is worried. You are making a difference in this life and causing harm to his plans. He is scared and does not like that. Continue to keep your head up and your heart soft to God’s moving in your life. Satan does not bother those who are no threat to him. Be encouraged that you are a worthy foe of the enemy.

The lie of discouragement will present itself in your life. The choice is yours whether you will live with it or battle against it.

Until next time –

Karen