Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

5 Tips for Squirmy Waiting

squirmy2YOU MAY HAVE seen the meme that trumpets in big capital letters, “This too will pass!” Then, in smaller print, is the kicker: “It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”

If the blockage isn’t serious enough to warrant surgery, doctors typically recommend lots of water, maybe offer some pain killers, and just leave nature to take its uncomfortable course. Life can be kind of the same way, sometimes. You can’t make something unpleasant pass any more quickly, but there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort as you wait.

From a time in my life when despair and darkness seemed to wrap around me like a cloak, I offer five ideas that may help you through a period of squirmy waiting.

Set your sights. Each morning, I’d wake up to an overwhelming sense of despondency. The future looked bleak, so I stopped looking that far ahead. I set my sights on the coming evening, knowing I could go to bed and–for a few short hours—forget everything again. I could look that far. The recovery community advocates “one day at a time” because it’s doable.

Patrol your mind. If I wasn’t careful, I’d find myself obsessing over the latest twist in my circumstances—replaying conversations I’d had; rehearsing conversations I needed to have; second-guessing things I’d done; worrying about what I should do. These thoughts would go round and round in my head, in an endless loop. It was exhausting. I finally decided I wasn’t go to let them do that anymore. Whenever my mind would wander that way, I’d intentionally stop myself and think about something else. It was tiring, but it helped me to “take captive every thought,” as 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs.

Guard your heart. Knowing it didn’t take much to set my mind off on an unhelpful track, I was careful about what I took in. I didn’t get my mail until I arrived home from work in the evening. However, if I saw correspondence I knew related to my difficult situation, I’d put off opening it until the morning, knowing that otherwise it might keep me awake all night.

Work your body. With low energy, exercise was often the last thing on my mind, but it helped. I’d drag myself out for a run, finding that the effort was a great way to burn off some of the stress. Headphones on, I’d lose myself in the music. It was also a small investment in myself—keeping fit in the hope (more than belief) that I still had a future worth being around for.

Find your friends. I was fortunate to have a couple of good buddies to whom I could whine and moan. They’d listen patiently, murmur sympathetically, and know they didn’t have to come up with the answers. I also found great community in a support group for others facing the same circumstances; something about sharing such a difficult season brought us close very quickly. I’d look forward to our weekly meetings, when I knew I’d be with people who just got me.

These practices didn’t speed up the process. There were still days and nights when I thought I’d like to crawl out of my skin to get away from all the hurt. But they did help me endure, eventually finding sweet relief.

Photo credit: HeyGabe via Foter.com/CC BY-NC-SA

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