Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"How do I get through this?"

As I walk through each day I occasionally hear the phrase, "I don't know how to do this, how do I get through this?" Sometimes the words are colored by fear, desperation, or heart-wrenching sadness. And then sometimes they're hollow, void of emotion, mirroring the hole that has dug itself into the speaker's chest. Whatever the case may be, we can be sure that the person uttering these words is facing something they never imagined they would have to deal with.

I admit, I am guilty of saying these words myself. So, I can reasonably say that I understand what staring into the abyss looks like. Not that my personal hell looks anything like someone else's, each one of us is "uniquely" made, and we are each able to bear different levels of trials. However, no matter where you are in your journey, there is a point where you look around and wonder, "how do I get through this?" You might even find yourself asking someone else, someone who has gone through a similar circumstance, or someone who hasn't. The point is, when we ask that question, we're looking, not just for an answer, but a plan. We're looking for a tried and true method of how to get up the next morning, how to breath, how to walk through each day, come out on the other side, and then continue on living.

I have been, not just the asker, but also the receiver of this question. And when I was staring into those desperate eyes, there was nothing more I wanted than to be able to give an answer. The problem is; there is no answer. There is no map you can hand out that shows how to navigate this messy life. There is only do or don't. A person can take things day by day, or they can quit. And that's the answer I find myself giving, "put one foot in front of the other, step by step, one breath at a time." That's the only real 'plan' available.

You don't know what the next day is going to bring, nor does anyone else. The good news is that this plan is flexible. You don't have to move at anyone's pace but yours. And eventually, you will find yourself on the other side. No one can tell you when that will be, because in our uniqueness, no one can walk "in our footsteps." They can walk the journey by your side, but they cannot be you. They can tell you what to do if you want, but there is no guarantee that it’s the right thing because they aren't you.

Of course, this isn't the answer people are looking for. They want to know that in six months, or a year, or in some specific time-frame, if they follow these five steps, they will find themselves on the other side of this mess and able to move on. They want to know how to make the world turn back right-side up. They want everything to go back in its place, much like the sorcerer in Fantasia does after Mickey messes everything up beyond repair.

When someone asks "How do I get through this?" they are looking for a way to make life go back to normal after it's all said and done. They are asking how to face this problem and come out on the other side the same person.

The thing is, you can't. You don't get to walk through hell, and not come out different than you went in. But that’s ok. Even Jesus didn't do that. He went in carrying the sins of the world and came out without them. Change is not the end of the world.

So, can you get through this? Yes, you can. How do you do it? Put one foot in front of the other, and remember to breath. Will you come out the same? Absolutely not, but that’s ok. You may be a different person, but you will still be you. And whoever you are on the other side, God has a purpose for that person too, just like he has a purpose for who you are now.