During the past (almost) year, we have done a lot of leaning on our friends. Although we weren't terribly private people before, my wonderful husband and I prefered to be the one to do the supporting, rather than being the ones supported. Things change (in an instant) though and I can honestly say that I now know what it is like to be on the receiving end of unconditional love and support. We have been blessed beyond measure and even farther beyond what we will ever deserve.
With that said, our friends have their own lives. Their own families. Their own chores, errands, plans and dreams. While our world felt like it had fallen apart and stopped altogether, their lives were ticking along nicely. In reality, as much as I might have wanted them to, they couldn't all sit here day after day and hold my hand.
All the earthly support in the world can't be there 24/7. So when fear strikes in the middle of the night, after a particularly hard day (the 3rd one this week) or when you know all are busy and don't want to be a bother.....who do you lean on? If you are a Christian, the easy answer is God. And that is true. But when you are at the bottom of the pit, to scared to look out or even think about climbing out, calling on God doesn't always seem helpful.
God is there. He wants to comfort you. He wants you to lean in His arms and be carried by His strength. Here are some suggestions for things that you can do from the bottom of the pit to feel close to your Father.
* read the Psalms
I am on my 3rd read-through of Psalms this year. Every time I have been encouraged and lifted up by selections that I just didn't notice the time before. The Psalms were written by people at the bottom of the pit, they speak the words that you can't and help you explain the emotions that are smothering you.
Even if it is my favorite "God, I don't know what to do now" prayer. He hears and you will feel closer just by talking to Him. Pour your heart out and then just sit in silence and listen. God says the most wonderful things to me when I just listen.
* be grateful
I know that it is hard to be grateful when you are sitting alone in the bottom of the pit, but you CAN find at least one thing a day to be grateful for. Last fall, around Thanksgiving, I purposed to think of at least 3 things every day that I was thankful for and to openly thank God for those things. My children picked up on it (I was using prayer time at meals for this) and I think it did all of us good to remember the blessings that God gives us. Is the sun shining? Be thankful for that. Are there flowers you can see/smell? Be thankful for the beauty that God has provided. Did the cat just have 11 kittens in the bottom drawer of your dresser? Be thankful for a sweet reminder of God's creation (and a newspaper ad that can give them all away!).
* remember others
While sitting at the bottom of the pit, it is lonely. In our situation we were all in the pit together, but we each still felt very alone. I found it humbling to pray for the needs of others. If you don't know of any others who have needs, watch the news for 5 minutes. Read the newspaper and pray for the families of those listed in the obituary section. No matter how terrible your situation, you have God with you, there are others in this world that don't. How hopeless must their situations be?
* make plans to get out of the pit
Let's face it, the pit isn't a fun place to be and you can't stay there forever. So NOW is a fantastic time to plan your escape. Get a notebook and ask God to show you His plans for you. You might get a teeny tiny glimpse. Work with that. Jot down your hopes and dreams for your future. Seek out the advice of those wonderful friends and bounce ideas off of them. Pray for your dreams. If you feel God leading you in one specific direction, make plans to take a step that way. As long as you are open to God's leading along the way you can't go wrong. If you feel that you hit a wall, or have a setback, don't give up! Reevaluate and start again. (I speak from experience here. Norman and I are not ones to sit back and wallow in our pity. We've been trying many avenues to better our situation. So far, they have all been dead ends. We are to the last option. It seemed drastic, but the way seems clear to us. So we go forward, knowing that we didn't arrive at this choice lightly, we have exhausted all other options and that God is with us, no matter what.)
I don't care if you can carry a tune, or not, sing. I think that just the process of singing frees your mind to praise God. Process the words to your favorite hymn. Listen to God's promises of mercy and grace and let them wash over you. I promise that if you aren't on your way out of the pit, you will be heading that way soon enough.
* banish Satan
Just the last few weeks, when I feel fear creeping up on me, I have been rebuking Satan. Fear is not from God, it is from Satan, trying to get a handle on you. I refuse to let Satan, and fear, rule my life anymore. I give my problems, concerns and fears to God and I let Him keep them. I don't take them back. They aren't mine anymore. God is far more capable of handling them than I am.
That pit of fear, loneliness and despair is a terrible place to be. I wish that I could say you will never end up there again. I can't. But you don't have to stay there. If you are reading this, you are alive. Life is worth living. Whatever you have lost, a loved one, financial security, relationships, job.......you have your life. Live it with joy. Joy in knowing that God is there no matter what happens. Joy in the small things like flowers and kittens. Joy in helping those who have found themselves in the pit (who would be more qualified than someone who has been there???). All problems can't be solved, but we can go on living without the solution. I encourage you to say a pray, pick up your Bible and purpose today to start living again.