You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘hard times’ tag.


Confession: I’ve never been “big” on shoes. (I picture well-shod women everywhere gasping.) Shoes are utilitarian things to me; as a child, I couldn’t wait for school to be over so I could shed the clunky things. And growing up in sunny Southern California, shoelessness was not only acceptable but common. As a result, I developed a lazy walk, an easy stride, knowing the ground beneath me would always be warm and dry. Then I went off to college in Indiana.

Walking on ice and snow was a disaster for me. I fell constantly, my legs sliding out from under me in a flail of limbs that led to bruised tailbones and broken toes. I simply could not figure out how to navigate slick surfaces. I watched my friends. They walked more deliberately than I did, with a purpose. Growing up in the Midwest had informed their walking style. Dumb little sunbunnies like me were left behind.

Eventually I discovered how to pick my way through snow and ice. I had to, living in Kansas. I make my steps firm, a march-step. To make up for my shorter strides, I tell myself to keep moving. March, march!

So it is in our spiritual lives. When all is going well, we breeze along, shoeless and happy. But when metaphoric snow and ice befall us, we can easily slip and fall. We are not prepared. Sometimes it takes everything in us to keep ourselves marching along.

How can we find traction in perilous spiritual moments? In faith as in walking, it requires mindfulness. We cannot blindly shuffle through our day. Every movement, every moment, must be deliberate, focused on the one who sustains us, who keeps us upright: God.

That is not to say that we don’t need to be mindful when all is well. We should. But when the chips are down and the way gets treacherous, constant reliance on God may be the only thing that can keep us moving. God, help me get out of bed. God, help me at work. God, help me not to break down right now.

In many recovery groups there’s a saying about taking things one day at a time. However, sometimes a day can seem too long. I prefer, at times like these, to think about taking it one STEP at a time. And with every step, keep God in mind. God will carry you through. Now take the next step. March, march!

Dinty Moore’s got nothing on me.  When I want to stew in my sorrow, I pull out all the stops!  I just sat here and thought of everything that’s gone wrong in my life.  Counted it off like the opposite of rosary beads.  Like misery beads.  Then I wondered why I felt physically drained as I sat all hunched over.

And a strange, sweet thought came to me.

The answer is “Yes.”

There’s never anything positive in re-hashing the moments that bring pain.  I believe closure is a myth and catharsis is a euphemism for “picking at scabs.”  You start to go back in your mind and before you know it, you feel physically the way you did at that moment in time.  You’re re-living it, so that wound never has a chance to become a scar.  You haven’t left the nexus of pain yet.

In a recent prayer, I wrote about feeling “wet with woe,” and it wasn’t just a poetic flourish.  I truly did feel drenched with the sticky glop of melancholy.  Can’t explain it well, but it wasn’t just psychological; it extended to the physical.  I felt wet, weighted.  Woeful.

And it was a bad place to be.

Many people believe you need to talk about troubles in order to face up to them and find a solution.  In some cases, this is true.  But for things too painful to even think about, the answer isn’t in re-visiting them but in moving ahead in spite of them.

The nexus of pain is the “no.”  The “yes” is the part where you divert yourself from full-focus on the “ouch” and set about building the foundation for the rest of your life.  You can’t live in a state of suspended animation, frozen in one moment that caused your heart to break or your soul to shatter.

The answer is yes.

Psychologists might not agree, but I think the way to turn the page on past pain is to indulge in distraction therapy.  I just made up that phrase, but I think you get the drift.  Leave the room if you find yourself in a puddle of pathos.  Get up and go somewhere.  Sing praise songs. Take a drive in the country.

When you sit in a pile of pain, all you say to blessings waiting on your doorstep is, “No thanks.  I’m not ready.  I’m still lamenting the bad things that have happened so I have no room for you.”  Why not turn down another path?  Stow the “no,” get up out of your woe and open the door wide.  The answer is yes.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

%d bloggers like this: