How To Get Out of a Rut
I started this new year with a fresh spirit and optimistic mindset.
2017 had been steady, if uneventful. I was reacquainting myself with being back in New York City and getting more comfortable in my new job. I had gone through serious transition periods in my life before, and had appreciated the calm and chance to reflect and grow in unruffled waters in the last year.
2018. I was ready to run, go after my dreams, for opportunities to open up. I felt the promise of it in my heart.
However, instead of progressing and finding my stride, I hit road bumps and stop signs. I felt more anxious than I had in years. I experienced a rush of fears that I thought I had defeated for good. My self-assurance and conviction in my decisions took a hit. I was on shaky waters, when I had been on solid footing for so long. And it threw me off. Wasn’t all that work I had done in myself, meant to prevent this uncertainty?
Wasn’t all that work I had done in myself, meant to prevent this uncertainty?
Having experienced this unexpected wilderness, I’m realizing that we will never get to a place of perfect contentment all the time. There is a hope and peace that “transcends understanding” that I’ve often experienced in my relationship with God, but my own limitations of unbelief and resistance to dealing with issues of my own heart WILL limit what GOOD things will enter my spirit sometimes. That’s just the brutal truth- I’m limited. I’m not a superhero. I don’t have it all together, all the time. That idea of perfection is not sustainable. I will only be disappointed again and again if I expect that from myself.
Sometimes, you can’t just “snap out of it”.
In the past, I tried adjusting my expectations of myself and other people. I tried building boundaries, then walls. I tried knocking down those walls, and letting people in. I tried guarding my heart and finding the right balance in opening myself up. This was and is a healthy process for me, and thankfully, in my imperfection, there is a perfect God who gives me power to be more than I am and do more than I am capable of. But I will not get it right all the time. I will not have the wisdom and energy to make the best decision every time, or the resolve to do what’s best for me despite how I feel in every situation.
So what do we do in those moments when we just don’t feel like having faith or when hopelessness is overwhelming us?
1) Give yourself an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with new waters. You may not have expected this place. Things may have been good for a while and you’re not sure how you ended up feeling in despair or unsure of yourself and where you’re going. Don’t be so hard on yourself for “allowing” yourself to feel this way or people or circumstances to impact you.
2) Don’t distract yourself into avoidance. You can take a breather away from your thoughts and struggles for some time, but don’t LINGER there. It’s okay to watch some TV and veg out in times of confusion and uncertainty, but don’t lull yourself into a new normal of dull pain and manageable gloom. Your life is meant for more than this.
3) Don't force yourself to feel or act a certain way. You don’t have to force yourself to be “over it” or rationalize how you think you should feel or act. Each action does not define or reflect who you are. When we constantly berate ourselves for our feelings and actions (or inaction), it’s hard to make progress and we will be too defeated to keep going. Be kind to yourself!
4) Realize and remember that who you are is enough. We live in a society that tells us that we should be constantly more, better, and doing more. Constantly striving to be more than we are is exhausting. This can work for some time, but when things don’t go our way and we realize that we are in less control of our lives than we think, this will inevitably fall apart. Our foundation should not only be on our positive self-identity, but on how God sees us with unconditional love no matter what.
5) Form new and healthier patterns of processing situations and hurt. Let this time be an opportunity for you to deal with difficulties in a healthier and kinder way. Actively determine to have greater trust in God’s faithfulness and his timing. Have courage that you won’t be overwhelmed by your troubles.
Live well, dear readers, and overflow. There is so much more.