What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

More than once I’ve typed in the phrase “what to do when you don’t know what to do” into the Google search box, hoping for just-right advice to move me out of the stuck place that has its unrelenting grip on me.

2A8FCDF9-9DE8-43CA-9711-FD763128F101-489-000001096522233EWhen I’m in that place, it feels as if I’m caught in a Chinese finger trap. The harder I try to move forward by making a decision, the more resistance I encounter, usually within myself. I get nowhere. With each passing moment, I feel more trapped by indecision and anxiety.

It seems to me that there is one answer with two paths.

Acceptance is the answer. If I’m feeling stuck, I benefit from accepting the feelings and situations that create the urgency for action, even if I don’t know what steps to take. The more I resist the unpleasant feelings and thoughts that are along for the party, the greater my sense of panic, which only feeds the negative cycle.

Acceptance is the doorway that leads to two choices: I can either do nothing or take the next right step by doing whatever is before me.

Doing nothing is something and it’s a countercultural path. I find it challenging to get very quiet and wait for the answer to emerge from within and from God’s guidance. Sometimes the wait is uncomfortably long. It does no good to fight against the panic and pain. Acceptance of these emotions is necessary. They’ll leave in short order if you don’t try to shove them out.

The second option is to do something. Do the next right thing or some small action that moves you along no matter how short the incremental advancement may be. Then take the next step, and the next.

When you find yourself asking a lot of people for their opinion about what you should do, that is a good indicator it’s time to get still and listen for your own thoughts and feelings about the matter, and to hear the “still small voice” that might be using the situation to get your attention.

When you feel paralyzed or overwhelmed, taking a small action can break up the emotional log jam. Make it simple, and get it done quickly. Then, when you’ve completed that, take another small, simple step. Fear, indecision, anxiety, and any other feelings will probably follow along for awhile, but eventually they will lose interest and drift away.

Be at peace, no matter what’s before you!

“And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21

 

A Serving of Grace

11701026926_5b17bf9e01_oGive me the tired, poor and huddled masses because I am more likely to pray for someone than about them. Rarely do I think to pray about relationships unless they cause acute pain.

My perspective on this changed recently when I heard from someone with whom I worked several years ago. All at once this person, then another, and yet another went radio silent. I made a few attempts to remain connected, but without any response from the other side, I decided to write off the situation as a difficult reality, and one for which I might never know the reasons.

When you loose all your siblings as infants, the abrupt departure of special people feels like death. Their behavior felt like a type of death. I felt rejected, guilt and shame. Yet, I never really prayed about the situation or for the people involved.

When I saw the familiar name in my email inbox the other day, I was stunned. It’s not anything I expected, and neither was the sense of healing that followed in the exchange. This was a serving of pure grace.

As grateful as I am for the reemergence of a dear soul, I wonder why I didn’t think to pray for all of them and the situation. Thankfully, God can be relied upon to know the matters of our hearts, whether we’re fully aware of them or not.

May you be surprised by grace!

Wanna Make Something of It?

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Swetzville Zoo, Timnath, CO

Writers and other artists are among the best recyclers. We can make the most from the junk found in our lives. Everything — people, events, emotions, experiences — is  material from which to create.

We help ourselves find peace and healing when we can take what’s given us, something akin to the 12-step slogan of living life on life’s terms, and make the most of it, especially when it seems we’ve been handed trash.

The temptation of dealing with life’s debris is to haul it away and bury it. Certainly there’s some clutter in our lives that doesn’t belong to us and we need to get rid of it quickly. We may find help in this process from talking to friends and, perhaps, to a therapist. We can apply our faith to get a fresh perspective on the situation.

Yet, there’s a good deal of rusted junk in our own backyards that has been allowed into our lives for our benefit. We didn’t ask for that problem. We didn’t deserve that pain. We didn’t want that loss. We tossed all of it out because we are unable to accept that it help the potential for our growth and our lives.

For healing and peace, we need to make something out of this junk. Transform it! Let hard circumstances craft new meaning. Take the dangerous edges of what’s broken in your life and piece together something new.

Dance. Draw. Journal. Paint. Sing. Create collages. Write poetry and prose. Do whatever you can to turn life’s raw moments into material that let’s you make something of it.