I opened my journal immediately, while she was still on the phone with me and started writing. I believe the list I made applies not only to that situation, but also to most of the difficult things we will go through.
Here’s some of what I wrote down that afternoon as well as thoughts I jotted down another time on my own:
1) Choose joy.
This may be the number one thing I need to practice – choosing joy in the midst of a trying situation and not letting a few negative things effect my entire being.
I know that we should try not to just fumble through a tricky situation holding out hope for it to end because we can’t know when or if it will end. These moments – the time with our children and other loved ones on earth – this is the good stuff. Don’t hold out for better. Embrace what’s here right now.
2) Find worth in Christ.
Our worth is not found in our outward appearance, our schedules, our parenting know-how, our incomes, our kids’ behavior, or what others think of us or our families. Seeking worth in those areas will always leave us lacking and searching for more. Our true worth is found in who we are in Christ.
3) Refrain from judging.
We don’t want other people to judge us, right? Likewise, we shouldn’t un-biblically judge others. We only see a tiny portion of their lives so we need to keep that in mind and seek to offer grace, not judgment.
Remember, how we treat others and the way we talk about them is a reflection of what’s in our hearts, not theirs.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 (NKJV)
4) Know the actions of others is a reflection of them.
Likewise, how someone else treats us or talks about us is a reflection of them and what’s in their heart. It is not a reflection of us!
5) Stay focused on the present.
This goes along with #1 – we shouldn’t worry or stress about that which is out of our control. Doing so steals our joy, our energy, our time, our sleep, and our health. We can choose to stay focused on things in front of us and not let tomorrow’s worries rob us of today’s gifts.
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.” Matthew 6:34 (NKJV)
6) Diligently train and teach your children.
If little people are in the home, then little people are watching and learning how to handle conflict and other undesirable circumstances. Train them through example and through careful speech.
7) Let trials be refining.
God uses trials to refine, purify, and mature us. Embrace the process, knowing that you’ll pull through a stronger and more refined you.
“I will bring the one–third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Zechariah 13:9 (NKJV)
8 ) Seek God more.
Nothing brought me to the foot of the cross faster than the deaths of my extended family members. Tragedy can lead us towards Christ or away from Him. Choose to cling tight.
9) Keep things in perspective.
The trying circumstances we go through are very real but we also need to be careful not to become consumed with ourselves or our situations. There are people (including small children) who live in continual hunger or very unsafe and unhealthy situations.
If you have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over your head, and a relatively safe environment then you’re already blessed beyond measure.