A Note from Chris Adams: I am sure most of you reading this can totally identify with today’s article. We’ve all had an experience where we wake up every morning thinking, “Did that really happen?” Then you realize it did, and you now have to discover how to keep living and breathing. There is a fabulous song by Danny Gokey titled Tell Your Heart to Beat Again that is about this very thing. Read what Dr. Deb Douglas shares about how to help women waking up to this kind of nightmare. See which of these steps you can take to encourage healing in their lives as Christ directs you.
Deb writes this special note: Today’s article is written to all women because all women, including leaders, will face loss, tragedy, and other life-altering challenges. The information shared can be used in helping other women as they face life-changing difficulties.
With one moment, the world can change.
A loved one lost.
A marriage ended.
A husband walks out.
A sin revealed.
A career destroyed.
A job lost.
Your breath catches. Your heart misses a beat. Your mind freezes in pain for one moment before the questions come and the fears plummet you. Fear in the form of questions like:
- Will your world ever be the same again?
- How will you survive?
- What will you tell people? What will they think?
- What do you tell the children?
The questions have no easy answers. They only produce more questions which quickly overwhelm you.
How do you begin to breathe again?
You fall on your face before God, and He reminds your soul that in the midst of it all, He has not changed. He still loves you. He has not left you. He is your very present help in our time of need (Psalm 33:20; 40:17; 46:1; 54:4; 70:5; 94:17; 121:2; 124:8; 146:5). Because He continues to be your Salvation, your Rock, your Fortress. Life after a changed world is possible.
Here are some other things that have not changed:
- Your physical needs. You continue to need to eat, drink (dehydration from stress is a concern), and sleep.
- Your family continues to need you.
- The sun will set and rise again. Life goes on.
- You are not alone. Some of your church family, friends, and family may scatter when your world falls apart, but some will continue to support and encourage. Choose to focus on the ones who are supportive. There are also survivors of similar losses who will be willing to walk with you through the challenges ahead. Remember, people cannot help you unless they know there is a problem. You must be willing to set your pride aside and seek out prayer support and help.
As life goes on, a clear path may not be evident. Your next step may be lost in the questions, emotions, and heartache. All the clichés and catchy little tunes about taking the first step seem empty when life has crashed down around you.
Try these steps to navigate this new life:
- Step 1: Pray. Spend time away from others to pray. Seek out prayer warriors for support.
- Step 2: Tell someone. Saying it aloud makes your new reality more real and helps lead you to acceptance of your present circumstances.
- Step 3: Read the book of Psalms. This book will bring calm to your soul and soothe your deepest hurt.
- Step 4: Take time to grieve or process. Time alone will allow you to begin to adjust to your new reality. Tears are healing.
- Step 5: Seek professional help. Find a support group.
- Step 6: Make lists. This helps you sort through what actually needs to be accomplished vs. the unrealistic worries that can overwhelm you.
- Step 7: Check your spirit for bitterness or resentment. With hurt comes the opportunity for bitterness to take root in your heart. When bitterness seeps in, it takes over and destroys you. Keeping a close check on your heart will help you deal with bitterness before it spreads.
- Step 8: Keep breathing.
God is faithful. No matter the cause of your changed world, you can survive with God’s help. He can use any circumstance, any loss, any challenge to take you to a new purpose and place. In the midst of the challenge, your hurt and pain make it difficult to see what is on the other side of your present circumstances. But He is faithful. With Him, you can survive.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.