by Kate Walsh Soucheray, Ed.D., M.A.T., M.A., LMFT
It is so easy to feel hopeless or discouraged at this time. We may have thought the coronavirus would be over by now, or that we would have a vaccine that lets us get back to normal. And yet, we are facing the holidays and we have been stuck in this state of confusion and chaos for several months and there is no guarantee it will end anytime soon. All we know for sure is that we are still here, we are tired, and we wonder if we have enough stamina to keep going.
Unite Our Suffering With Christ’s
Catholic Christians believe in the faithfulness of our Lord and His promise to never leave us alone, even in our most difficult, troubling moments of life. When we feel like we are kneeling in our own Garden of Gethsemane with little hope of a way out, we know He is kneeling right beside us. We know He is suffering with us, just as He did nearly two millennia ago when He faced His own death based on false charges brought against Him.
As we feel that the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic, we may have a better understanding of His Passion in the Garden, innocent and yet gravely affected, with no way out of what appears to be the inevitable. Just as Jesus endured His suffering in the Garden and God sent Him an angel to strengthen Him, God will send us an angel to strengthen us as we endure this difficult time.
Trust that a heavenly helper will offer you strength to maintain as you face each day that unfolds before you. Exactly what or who that helper will be we do not know, but we do know it is guaranteed and powerful.
Try to Manage, Not Eliminate, Difficulties
When we are suffering, we must remember to turn to the strategies we know help us to manage, not eliminate, the difficulties we face. Trying to eliminate them only makes them grow because we give negative energy to a dynamic situation that feeds our brain to strengthen a negative neural pathway. When we do that, the pathway fires all on its own, which can make us feel badly, even on a good day. The saying “neurons that fire together, wire together” is what happens when we think thoughts, whether positive or negative.
If we want to develop more resiliency in this time, we must help our brain to focus on positive thoughts, which will connect positive neurons and help us see the good in each day. When we see the good, we must take a moment to acknowledge the good, which is called gratitude, which in turn, strengthens our positive feelings.
When we feel alone, we must remember that Jesus told us He was sending a Paraclete, a helper, to be with us when He left this earth. He also told us He would be with us until the end of time and we are not to worry, but to come to Him with our difficulties and our struggles and He will help us.
He told us to be anxious about nothing, because He would be present to us and that we must allow ourselves to be open to Him and the gift of peace He will send us. Such thinking helps strengthen the positive neuronal activity in our brain, which in turn, helps us feel better. Thinking positive thoughts can help us face each day with more optimism.
Allow Jesus to Fill Our Cup
How can we be open to this gift when we feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or perhaps hopeless? We may feel empty and exhausted and wonder how we can find anything positive in our life when every aspect has been affected by the pandemic or the election? We may feel we have no energy reserves to bring to this time and the continued pressure we feel from the drain we have experienced.
This is when we know that our last hope is Jesus and His promise to rescue us. We must turn to Him today and allow Him to fill our empty cup. His Father said to the Hebrew People when they were struggling throughout their trials as His Chosen People, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways and acknowledge Him and He shall make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). He also encouraged them through the psalmist who wrote “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever” (Ps. 136:1).
Take a moment today and spend it with our Lord. Spend time saying affirmations into a mirror, too. Say the thought you want to believe to be true as if it IS true. When we state these things like we really believe them, we strengthen the neural pathways in our brain and these neurons will fire together, helping us feel more positive.
Ask Jesus for His assistance. Cry out to Him and ask for His help. Trust that He is waiting for us to come to the end of our own reserves so that we stop trying to save ourselves on our own struggles and anxiousness.
We can’t save ourselves. And we know that. He is our last and final hope – the life-giving power that has come to save us. We must let go of anything we are clinging to and allow Him save us. He wants us to feel good each day. But this often requires an act of faith, and that is graced to us by the Lord. We must ask Him to give us His Presence so we can put our full faith in Him and trust in His power. He will not let us down. But we must let go of any lifeboat we are clinging to and let Him come to us and save us. Believe you can build resiliency during this time, say affirmations to that effect, and trust that your brain will help you.
Let go today and let God help you. Let Him be the God that Saves!