You don't have to have all the answers. But when your heart is heavy and it's hard to smile, it helps beyond words to have a plan—a plan for how to move through the difficulty and get back on your feet.
If you're going through a tough time, I wrote this for you. You've got this.
1. Acknowledge the difficulty. Call it for what it is. If it's uncharted territory, say "This is uncharted territory." We're taught to listen to others. We also need to listen to ourselves. Acknowledging the difficulty is the first step.
2. Don't judge your emotions. Life can knock you to your knees. When it does, you're not expected to just cheer up and get over it. It's okay to feel hurt, sorrow, outrage, all of it. Grief is messy. But it loses some of its grip when we acknowledge everything we're feeling, without judgment.
3. Reach out for support. Congratulations. You're about to find out who your friends are. Some will pray for you, some will pray with you. Some will listen, others will respond as if nothing ever happened. Love them all, but save your energy for the friends in those first three categories.
4. Gratefully receive what others have to offer. Last summer when I went through my own tough time, I was thankful for every thought, prayer, and good vibe I could get. Every act of kindness helped.
5. Look for ways to be a light for others. Every thought, prayer, smile and good vibe you send out will make you stronger. You'll start to see you have more strength than you thought. By the way, I'm convinced that one of the most underrated prayers of all time is "Help me in my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
6. Live more intentionally today. Use the good dishes. Enjoy the gifts you've received from others and let them see you enjoying them. Splurge a little on those you love. Be thankful—that too will make you stronger. All of this brings us to our last point.
7. Allow yourself to feel joy again. During that tough time last summer, I would sometimes catch myself belting out a random pop song in my car. Then I would stop, feeling almost guilty for having fun. I don't recommend that. No matter how small or fleeting, welcome any and all moments of joy.
And if the tough time is happening to someone close to you? Acknowledge their difficulty. Don't analyze their emotions. Be someone they can turn to for support. Above all, let them feel joy again.
Grief is messy. But it loses its grip when we acknowledge everything we're feeling, without judgment.
— Gina DeLapa