There is a time and a season for everything—a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…(Ecclesiastes 3)
But what happens when all of those things roll into one season, into one month, week, day or hour? You can’t separate them out by the hour or the day, because they are each piled on top of one another so closely. One minute you’re celebrating, the next you’re grieving. One minute you’re laughing, the next you’re struggling to breathe. How do you respond when there is so much happiness intertwined with so much heartache? So much joy engulfed by sorrow?
If you’ve ever experienced a season like this, you know it can be hard to put into words. Maybe you would describe it as a rollercoaster or a whirlwind. But even that doesn’t seem to encompass the weight of it all.
This is where I am today. It’s where I’ve been for the last couple weeks. Life is rushing by and each day seems to be a mixture of what I described above.
Old Approach: Numbing Out
In the past, this kind of situation used to send me spiraling down into self-destructive attempts to cope. When life felt unstable and unpredictable, it was like the perfect storm. I suppressed my emotions and ran myself ragged, afraid that I would suffocate if I stopped to feel the negative. I believed that if I did not acknowledge what I saw as the “negative,” then I could just focus on the positive and be fine. I thought being optimistic meant turning a blind eye to the difficult things in my life.
I could not have been more wrong.
By suppressing every negative emotion, refusing to deal with the difficult, and pretending to be fine, I became lost in a world of numbing out. The eating disorder took over full throttle and I lost the ability to feel much of anything at all.
New Approach: Find the Balance
Today I have chosen to take a different approach. If there’s one thing recovery has taught me, it’s that I can’t afford to numb out anymore.
To me, optimism no longer means ignoring the bad and only acknowledging the good. Instead, it means creating space to cope with the uncomfortable, while also taking time to celebrate the good in life. It means not being afraid to sit in the silence and feel the weight of reality, because I can rest in the confidence that no burden is too big for my God. It means being willing to face the difficult things in life, while believing that God will bring me through to the other side.
Disclaimer: Choosing to take the time to deal with trials does not mean I spend all my time sulking in the bad. It does not mean ignoring the good or slumping down into a self-pity party. I believe it is crucial to still look for the good, no matter how dark things seem.
So while I give myself time to feel the weight of life right now, I will also recognize each good moment as a gift and embrace each one fully. I will welcome those moments with a grateful heart and let them encourage me to tackle what at times feels impossible. I will allow the harder moments to teach me what really matters in life and to help me let go of my need for perfection. I will stop obsessing over perfect grades in school or having enough money, and will instead make time to connect with loved ones. When the weight of this season’s trials becomes overwhelming, I will take time to drop to my knees in prayer, let the tears flow and work through the pain. I will continue searching for God’s blessings in the midst of the storms and I will soak in the beauty of these bittersweet days.
Challenge for You
My challenge for you is this: Find a balance. Give yourself space to wrestle through the more difficult emotions, but also search for the good in life and soak up those little moments of hope. Finally, if you are relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms and are addicted to numbing out, seek help now before those strongholds take over anymore of your life.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Love & prayers to you all,