We all know the scene, the prince has met the princess. They dance. The music flows through the room all light and carefree. Then suddenly the nemesis appears. The princess is captured, or the prince has to fight. Something terrible happens! The music picks up speed and off we go on a fight. This is what makes the story, but it doesn’t stay that way! Give it some time and the prince and princess will be back together again in a happily ever after ending. The problem with this scene is that life is just like this. One moment everything is a bed of roses. Life is good! The next, a curve ball is thrown at us, and we’re in the darkest place we’ve ever been. Will we stay there? No, but it sure feels like it! What can we do when that happens? Here are some tips from my own life.
Four weeks ago, I sat in an auditorium listening to and singing the song The Stand. The place was packed with standing room only while 125 college students graduated and their parents, families, and friends watched. My heart flowed and overflowed with gratitude that my son had the opportunity to go to that school for the year. Little did I know that my world would come crashing down on me just six hours later. I wrote about it later that weekend.
It’s Okay to Cry
After hearing that my future was gone, I cried. I cried my heart out. It was a loss; I grieved. A year ago, I had been handed an amazing platform and opportunity to share my stories with the world. It was something I would not have done without the encouragement and help of others. Now, that help was being taken out from underneath me. It’s a rather heady feeling to see your book on a library shelf, to know you are a published author. I also grieved the loss of opportunity. How could I continue writing and helping pre-teens and teens without a publisher? That weekend, I watched as different authors grieved in their own ways–from ranting and raving, to eating chocolate or ice cream.
We all have our own way of coping with stress and loss. My first response is crying. I believe that it will help.
Realize You’re Not Alone
One of the worse things about troubling times is that we feel all alone. Just talk to any teenager who has lost a best friend or broken up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. It is the end of the world! No one else has ever been there. As adults, though, we feel the same way. We tend to hide behind a mask walking around as if everything is okay, instead of being open and honest about how we feel. When we open up, we may find we’re not the only one in pain.
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
Everyone has a shadow they must walk through. Just last week, on top of the hectic push to get all four of my books republished and figuring out this whole business of self-publishing, my shoulder began to flare up. A year and a half ago I had my right shoulder freeze up on me. The pain was excruciating. After four months, we were able to get it diagnosed as not only frozen shoulder but also a partially torn rotator cuff. This new flare up had me scared. I was ready to be irritable and begin complaining about the low grade pain. I went to church and saw a friend. Her eyes weren’t as alive as normal. I asked what was wrong and found she was having shoulder pain. However, her issue was worse than mine. She couldn’t move her arm! I sat and nodded as I understood exactly what she was talking about. I was able to give her some helpful advice, and the rest of the week, any time I wanted to complain about my shoulder, I thought of and prayed for my friend.
That experience last week, definitely gave me a bite of humble pie. I had to realize not only was I not alone, but my issues were not as big as others. This type of humility can lead to teach-ability. When the fairy tale turns dark, it’s because there is someone who cares who wants to help you through it. In The One Who Sees Me this person is called The Existing One. In my current work in progress, an Ancient Egypt story, he is called The One Who Is. You see, I believe there is a Creator who has your best interests at heart. He’ll help us through life’s ups and downs, and wants to teach us things. When we are humble, He can teach us what we need to learn.
It isn’t always just about us though. Sometimes, God wants to teach others through us! This can be the worst feeling. We have to go through the tough time so someone else can watch and learn. That also takes humility and surrender.
A month ago as I stood singing The Stand, tears flowed freely down my face. They were in gratitude to the One who created it all. I had a full heart of thanksgiving. Yesterday at church, we sang The Stand. As I stood this time, again tears fell from my eyes and traced their way down my cheeks. These tears were tears of trust.
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours
Trust is one of those interesting things. It’s a conscious decision to let someone else take control. According to Google, it’s a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something“. How does it work? The best I can say is to share a story of friend. He was going through a tough time. His wife had just had their fourth child, but some complications came up. She was incapable of taking care of any of their children. They moved back to the family property so his mother could help out. He didn’t have a job and wondered what was up. At the same time, he was reading one of my favorite books by Timothy Zahn, The Icarus Hunt. It’s a spaceship based who done it with many intricate plot twists. As my friend read, he often wondered what was going to happen. He was on the edge of his seat. There were times when he wondered if everything was really going to turn out okay. It was then that he paused. My friend personally knows Mr. Zahn. So, my friend said, “I know Tim would not write something that I couldn’t handle. I can trust that he’ll make everything right at the end.” That is the true definition of trust.
We, too, can trust. If we have a personal relationship with the Creator God, we can know He has our best interests at heart. He’ll write a happily ever after. It might not be in this lifetime, but it will come.
You see, our fairy tale doesn’t end here on earth. It goes on through eternity.
What are you struggling with? If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d welcome your comments. Or, fill in the prayer request form: