It was a cold winter’s day in Michigan and I felt tired, discouraged and hopeless. My job wasn’t working out the way I had hoped, the sun hadn’t shown its face in days and even the dog seemed to have it in for me. Isn’t it amazing how quickly the “chicken little” syndrome can sink in when a few things go bad in our lives. Suddenly, we interpret every little nuance of life as a sign of the end times.
I was reminded this week how being over-tired, over-stressed and over-worked can skew our perspective of life. I lost track of how many miles I spent on the road, how many hours speaking, and how many more were spent laboring over a computer keyboard, but by 9:00 pm last night they had taken their toll. Tired, anxious and somewhat anti-social I took a Sleepworks and escaped into the nether land of my subconscious.
How do we press on when we feel the weight of the world setting squarely on our shoulders? Where do you turn when your heart tells you to run for cover, but your head reminds you that there are duties and responsibilities to life that must be fulfilled? I wish I had a good answer to that question. I recall a good friend; the director of a homeless shelter telling me, “Trent, there is a very fine line between these men in the shelter and you and me.” I used to doubt those words, but now I know how true they are. Pressed to the breaking point more than once I understand that powerful force that says, “just walk away.”
When I have those days and I just want to curse the world, or as Job’s wife said, “curse God and die,” there are three things that keep me going. I am now convinced that these three things are the intangible elements in that “very thin line” between those of us who endure and those who surrender.
- A relationship with God. Most twelve step programs understand that everyone has a need for a higher power in their lives.
- Good Friends. I know that during the darkest days of my life that I would not have survived and endured without friends who carried me when I was fallen, and held up my hands when I was weak.
- Optimism. I get laughed at sometimes because I always want to believe that God has good things in store for me. Even when life kicks me to the curb, I believe tomorrow is going to be a better day.
Most of us have down days. Some of us have down weeks and then there are those times we have down years. I have one friend who told me of “decade he doesn’t remember” because of alcohol abuse – that is one long period of “down time.” Be sure to put the right support system around yourself: God, good friends and a spirit of optimism.