Well, it’s been quite a week! I was hit with some frustrating news in both my personal and professional lives this week. It was one of those things where everything just kind of came crashing down. How does a person stay positive in such situations? I mean, seriously, doesn’t it make you wonder why the world works as it does?
Sure, but if you’re like me, you have to have faith. Faith in God is my compass. Truly. If you knew me well, you’d know I am a natural born cynic. I never even believed in Santa or the Easter Bunny. Never! Even as a kid. To this day I will dispute any claim from the right or left, conservative or liberal. I’m not only middle of the road, I’m cynical of everything. That makes it sound as if I’m either arguing with everyone or I have no opinions or don’t care, doesn’t it? I can assure you that’s not the case either.
The point is, I am a questioner of the world. I wonder about things and always have to figure out why. But with my belief in God? I never questioned it. Never. Not even as a kid. I believe in Him with all my heart. (Incidentally, I take no credit for this because it’s all His doing.) I can feel God’s presence in my life and always did. I am grateful to Him for this. When I say, as I did in my book Father’s Eyes, that I’m grateful he sought me out, I say that not as a bragging point but as a way of showing thanks. He’s the one that loves us first so we can love and get to know Him.
By now you might be thinking that when bad things happen, I immediately say amen and thanks for the lessons. However, I don’t. I rely on my faith to figure it all out, and when I can’t figure it all out, I rely on my faith to guide me to a place where I can move on. I know some people that never seem to have a bad day (on the outside at least.) They never get frustrated, never say, “What the deuce!” When something negative hits they put a smile on their face and say there has to be a reason.
Well I agree, there is a reason. I don’t always know what the reason is, and when I don’t, I feel frustrated. Wouldn’t be great to have the knowledge that God does? One of the things about faith that no one seems to talk about is that it’s okay to call on God when we are frustrated. Trust me, He can take it. It’s okay to turn to Him and ask him what the heck is going on. You might not always have a clear answer, but what you will have is a sense that you can move on despite this setback. You might not realize the reason you lost that job or didn’t meet the right person or had your friend turn away from you now, but you probably will at some point. That’s the thing about God, He’s got his own time line! Sometimes it doesn’t mesh with ours. But who knows what’s best? (You know my answer to this.)
When I’m completely overwhelmed, as I was this week, I do a couple things. First, I let myself feel sad, cry, and wallow for a short time. A short time is the key. Wallowing for the sake of wallowing is no good. But letting out those tears? Hey – don’t fight it. This is something I’ve learned over the years. I used to think that crying was useless and a waste of time, so I would stuff my tears. And I did, for years and years. Then my dad killed himself and suddenly the tears that I stuffed came flying out and didn’t go away. I cry more now because I accept that it’s part of who I am. I cry at sad movies. I cry when I feel pain. I’m not one of those people who sit around and bawl, but if the tears come, I go with it. God gave me emotions, why should I fight it? For Pete’s sake, some people are just built that way!
So go ahead and cry for a short time. Then, reach out. Don’t sit locked away and try to “tough it” out. This is a huge lesson I’ve learned over the years too. The old Cherie would be a toughie so no one thought anything was ever wrong. Once again, my father’s death was a huge lesson for me in all this. I learned that “being strong” doesn’t mean you can’t lean on friends. Pick your friends wisely, people! Because they have the power to lift you up, or sadly, sometimes bring you down. Sometimes you meet someone at a certain time in your life, and you think they are funny or interesting, and you befriend them. But when you need a kind word? A bit of understanding? They’re not only absent but make it worse. They might not mean to, and that’s okay… or they definitely mean to, and that’s not okay.
This is where faith comes in again. You got problems? Reach out. God will make sure there’s someone there. But if you’re a “toughie” sitting in a room by yourself refusing to talk to people? He can’t get the people there. You’ve got to work with Him in order to benefit from this great thing He does.
So let’s recap: First, cry. Second, reach out. Third? Move on. Now you really need to just get over it. You’ve had your cry, which may have been on your friend’s shoulder, and now you need to make the effort to get over it. Why? Because if you stay in this place of sadness it will bring you much further down that the setback did. Don’t let it do that. Make an effort to do something that will move you forward. It won’t be easy at first, and it will be different for everyone. It may mean getting over that old boyfriend, applying for a new job, figuring out a new way to get what you need, getting more information…. whatever. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out and talking to people. Yesterday I went to the dentist and had a new person work on my teeth. She just randomly started talking to me about something she’s dealing with, and ‘lo and behold if it wasn’t the same thing I was. She had a different perspective, different information. She made me look at my own situation differently. She gave me hope that perhaps my situation will work out, although not at all like I had originally imagined it would.
Staying positive doesn’t mean you are a robot or Stepford wife sitting there with a stupid smile on your face. But it does mean you look at your life with hope, that you realize the gifts you’ve been given, and you thank God. That thankfulness part is a big one for me. When I start to whine and think, “why me,” well I just get down on my knees. There are times I actually pray like, “Wow, I am so stupid. Sorry about that. Please help me look at it differently next time.” God is a great reality check. Not only does He remind you that it’s going to be okay but He also lets you see all those things that are so very good in your life. You can’t be stuck in a place of sadness when you’re grateful. That’s the secret of thankfulness, it actually helps you move on.
You might think by now that staying positive is a bit of work. Well… duh. Anything in life worth doing is a bit of work. But whining? Wallowing? Those are work too. There’s a quote I keep up on my computer by Francesca Reigler that says:
“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”
Don’t I know it.