3 Ways to Grow Stronger During a Season of Struggle

Hey Friend —

I’ve fallen into my therapist’s cozy couch three times this week alone.

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Yep, it’s been that type of summer.

Let me start by acknowledging this isn’t a post I expected to write. I’m typically a glass-half-full, encourager — lover of life and all things sparkly, celebratory and fun. And I love summer—hanging out with my kids, picnics in the park, late night ice cream parties, and oodles of family fun.

But not this summer.

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Just between me and you, I told my therapist 2016 is going down in the books as “The Summer from “H-e-double hockey sticks.”

Just keeping it real, friends.

season of struggle

Now in case you’re thinking, “But Cindy, I follow you on FB. You’re writing a book. You taught at two awesome speaking conferences. Your family is healthy, you have a home. What could be so bad?

Friends, let’s not assume because someone is smiling on the outside, there isn’t pain and struggle on the inside.

Whereas I’m not at liberty to share the story behind my pain yet, if ever, I felt a strong sense to share these words today.

In case you’ve been scrolling through the happy social media feeds—filled to the brim with smiley spouse challenges, beautiful beach pictures, and fantastic family reunions—believing everyone is living the dream and having a blast—y’all, it’s just not true.

If you summer has looked anything but picture perfect, please know you are not alone.

Here’s what I’m learning to grow stronger in the midst of a season of struggle:

1. Tell Someone.

It’s been very helpful to have a therapist and a small handful of close girlfriends to share how I am really doing. Their words of Truth, love and encouragement have helped breathe life into my bruised and weary soul. We don’t have to tell everyone, but tell someone.

2. Turn off social media and turn to God.

Honestly: most days I want to stay curled up under my blankie and drink an insane amount of Starbucks while numbing out on Facebook or Instagram.

This would not be a healthy, helpful way to deal with my stress and allow God to heal my weary soul.

Agreed?

So even when my flesh doesn’t want to, I have been putting down my phone and going to the Throne. Reading. Listening to Truth-filled teachings. Walking with a praying friend.  Sitting in the pain and quiet (Ugh). You get the drift.

3. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a girlfriend.

In my season of struggle, things are going undone: emails are left unanswered, FB messages pile up, I’ve had to cancel phone calls and meetings, and others get disappointed.

I’m learning to extend much grace to myself. Here’s my daily self-talk strategy:

  • I will talk kindly to myself.
  • I will remind myself my worth is not based on what I do, how clean the house is, and whether or not we have weeds growing in our flowerbed (phew) or Easter egg decorations still out.
  • I will extend the same grace to myself I would to a close friend. If I wouldn’t say it to a friend, I don’t say it to myself (i.e. I’d never say, “I can’t believe you took a nap today. You’re so lazy!” so I don’t bully myself either.)
  • If I’d say it to a friend, I will say it to me. (i.e. “Wow, you are going through hard stuff. Why don’t you put your feet up and enjoy some time reading or resting?” Yes, please.)

Let’s sprinkle grace everywhere we go, starting with ourselves.

Lastly, I am learning to pay extra close attention to how is God at work, and where is He leading and guiding. How can I praise Him today in the midst of the pain? How can I choose joy? How can I receive and share His love? What is helping restore my soul?

I’m also paying attention to make sure day by day I’m making progress. If I get stuck in my sadness, or do not see improvement, I will make phone calls and/or appointments, as necessary. (Thus the reason I went to see my therapist three times this week.)

Enough about me, how about YOU?

Sweet friend, I hope you have had the best summer ever. I pray this is a summer that will go down in the books as an absolute blast!

But, if you summer has been anything but fabulous, please know, you do not have to journey alone. Pay attention to how you are doing, and if you find yourself slipping into sadness, tell someone. Today. Promise?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but thankfully we know the One Who does. And this I know: He gives rest to the weary, He binds up the brokenhearted, and He restores our souls.

Can I get an Amen?!  ?

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles,* friend. I thank God for you!

Sweet blessings,

Cindy

***

This post originally appeared at CindyBultema.com.


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Cindy Bultema
Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband and their 4 children. When she’s not running a full household, you can find Cindy walking her dog Rocky, meeting a friend for coffee, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school. Cindy’s newest project, Live Full, Walk Free will be available in December 2016 through Thomas Nelson Publishers. See more from Cindy at CindyBultema.com.