Someone I know is struggling at a “change point” in life, and feeling lost. This person feels as though so much of life has past and looking back causes a sense of having lost time as well. Moving forward feels painful. Not enough of the past was as productive as was hoped, and not knowing how to move forward is causing a feeling of losing time in the present. Considering the impact on others,makes moving in any direction complicated.
When I was at one of these points in life, several things would have been or were helpful. Knowing now that change points in life run the gambit from traumatic to exhilarating, I want to make a list of those helpful things, to share with this person, and hopefully with anyone else who is stuck at a change point. (Also, if there is someone out there who is counseling others, I hope that they will recognize these times in life as highly important to the person going through the process. I couldn't find a couselor who understood.) The decisions made during this struggle will affect the whole of the rest of anyone’s life. No one wants to look back in 20 years and feel like his/her mark on life was fruitless. Allow me please to direct this help information as if directed to “you.”
- Reaching out for support is probably the first step. No doubt, praying has already been a part of what brought you to the “change point” anyway. So, I am presuming that God is already a vital part of the process. Therefore, remind yourself that you are not going it alone. But then, reach out. Avoid “advice”
if the person thinks they have your solution. Don’t expect them to know what God has in mind for you. That is between you and God. Rather, ask for prayer and directional perspective. Something like: “do you have any general ideas of where to look for direction on life changes?” A question this specific will cause your advisor to think twice about what you really need from them.
If you pray before you approach them, that God will inspire them, God will use their clarity of mind, and distance from your circumstance to visualize your need without the clutter of your own dilemmas. God might give them some Holy Spirit inspired creative ideas to share with you. A book, a verse of scripture, a friend who just made the same change who is willing to give wisdom, names of schools, cities where you would fit, jobs which expand your present skills…on and on. In fact, you might give them a list of things on your mind, and ask them to consider if they might have some insights on any subject on the list.
When I reached out, I felt I needed to relive my situation to them, and then ask for help. There was no one prepared to help me. I never felt so alone. If you need to share by telling someone what in your past hurts, consider that the person you are telling might not have the skills to cope or help you. Be careful who you tell. Consider leaving out the details of the past.
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. Proverbs 13:10
2. Step two is to deal with the loneliness of your situation. When I counsel adults, “I am so lonely,” is the thing I most often hear. It was the same for me. Sometimes the best answer to the lonelinessis to invest yourself in making friends and looking for ways to help someone else in need. Avoid isolating yourself, or allowing a disconnect to occur with people you love especially if they don’t understand your personal struggle.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone... Genesis 2:18
3. Step 3 is the most important. But to get there safely, you need steps 1 and 2. This step is JOURNALING. Writing is a great way to get certain elements of your decision making process out of your head the thought pattern is not nagging you over and over. Your mind will tell you to think of it often, because of the urgency you have placed on getting a decision made. And since you are struggling with decisions, the brain will just keep bringing it up again and again. You get stuck more in the question of what to do next, than in thinking about the variety of answers.
Categorize the writing – These are my dilemmas; these are my possible answers. No matter how ridiculous, if it’s in your head, get it on paper. Close the book and offer it to God. He has the answers, and will help you sort through the realities. If something seems ridiculous now, it might not when God reveals his answers. Expect that time will unravel some things. But having your thoughts on paper will really help you move through the options with reference points. Add insights, good advice, inspiration from books, messages, notes to self, scripture that is carrying you, and anything that is nagging your brain. Write both positive and negative, and describe them honestly as such.
In the end, some things will not seem so important. Some things will come to the front, with energy. Some things will sort themselves out. Some things will seem obvious, and some will be a struggle to believe. You will often see things that are holding you back, discover your fears, notice the things you are telling yourself. Hopefully you will begin to realize the negatives and the positives. Perhaps, you will recognize the areas where you are your own worst enemy. And with God’s timing, you will develop a plan for a future path. The best resolution is to not expect too much out of life.
We can dream way beyond what we can achieve. It’s just reality. Sometimes, those dreams are attainable and amazing. I think that finding perspective on the actual relevance of our dreams in the big picture of life is
pretty important. When I am dying, will I look back and say I have ticked off some things on a list? Will that be as important as having impacted the people in my life for good? Will I hang my gladness or sorrow on others with whom relationships have failed; is my life hanging on someone else’s dream? Perhaps, step 4 hinges on answering these questions.
4, Stop to think: how much is what you are hanging the whole of your life’s accomplishments on really going to matter in the end. What are your regrets now? Have I failed with people? How might I not fail with people in the future? Have I failed with commitments or jobs? How might I change that?
Then get real! You will fail with people, and with commitments and jobs, etc. So the real question becomes: How can I forgive myself and others, and not hang so much of my life’s joy or lack of it on successes and failures? And lastly, begin to make a list of achievable goals to check off quickly, so the sense of failures in the past can begin to fade into a sense of success in the present.
None of the above is an overnight solution. There are no overnight solutions. But why should there be? Life is a process, growth is a process, finding direction is a process. The best thing to do in the process is to find a way to love the process.
Lastly, never, never, never allow a hobby or habit become a diversion, to the extent that it becomes your “go to” hideaway. This brings about patterns of addition. Hobbies are great for getting your mind off for a bit. But saturating yourself in a hobby or medication, or whatever, which brings relief for a bit from the mental stress, is dangerous if it causes you neglect to spend significant time in finding the solutions you seek.
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. Psalm 62:5
My Prayer: Lord, grant that many who are at a life changing point along the path, who wonder if their purpose for life is still in the future, might find the direction they need to move forward with joy of life and assurance that you care about their future. You promised to give a future and a hope. Send help to the seekers, and wisdom to the advisors. Give wisdom to one who does as many of the writers of scripture did when they journaled the journey. In Jesus' Name, AMEN
A scripture to claim: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11 KJV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV