Surviving life’s “trenches”

trenchAre you in the trenches right now?

Perhaps you are fighting to hold together a tenuous relationship with a significant other or family member or friend.

Maybe it’s your health or happiness that is on the line.

You might be battling to stay on top of all of your responsibilities at work and home.

Or perhaps you are fighting just to make ends meet.

Whatever your trench or trench(es) are, I want to tell you that there is hope. I want to encourage you with this. Oftentimes our greatest joys come after our hardest battles. That tasting the bitter depths helps us to appreciate, all the better, the sweet heights of success and freedom.

It has been that way for me–again and again. And it has been that way for so many others I know and look up to, as well.

Don’t let your hard circumstances go to waste. What I mean is this. Don’t lose the lessons and growth you could gain from your trials. You see, difficult circumstances can cause us to become bitter and angry and resentful, if we are not careful–lesson and growth wasted.

BUT, if you let them, trials came help you develop in ways you never thought possible! They can change you beyond your wildest dreams. From them you can learn the beautiful character qualities of patience and perseverance (not giving up, even when things are hard). Often, trials help us develop forgiveness, as we practice looking over the faults of others and ourselves. They teach us to depend on others and lean on them for help.

When we eventually emerge from our trench, we are stronger for having fought these battles. And we are more able to empathize with and help other struggling people.

I have been in the trenches more times than I care to count. I think we all have. And in a lesser way, we all have our “mini trenches” we deal with every day.

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Here are two BIG things I have done and continue to do to survive the trenches and to come out stronger for them.

Practice Gratitude

There is something powerful about giving thanks, even in difficult circumstances–especially in difficult circumstances. It really, truly has the power to help turn things around in our minds and spirits!

For most of us, practicing gratitude is just that–something we have to practice. It doesn’t come naturally to us. In fact, years of negativity or worry has carved deep neural pathways in our brains–ones that lead to more negativity and worry. Literally. It requires a good bit of work to “rewire” our brains–to learn a new way of thinking, a grateful way of thinking.

But it can be done! I am living proof that a negative, worry-filled way of thinking can be changed. Just ask my husband :). I used to fill his poor ears with all of it. (Funny, he and I were just talking about this little “miracle” that has transpired in me this morning over breakfast.)

The difference in my life has been night and day and it is like a huge weight has been lifted from my chest. I used to walk around in a constant state of turmoil, always assuming the worst in every situation. And, oh boy, if there really was a trial in my life! I did not do well at all.

Looking for things to be thankful for every single day has helped rewire my thinking and it helps me emerge from trials quicker and healthier. But, I don’t think I would have been able to do it as effectively without what comes next…

Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually

My body is very sensitive. What I put into it and whether or not I get enough sleep makes a big difference in how I am able to cope in life. This is especially true when I am facing some sort of trial. I think this is the case for most people.

Eating healthily, walking, taking vitamins (a multi and D3 and magnesium), getting adequate sleep are HUGE. They have helped me overcome depression and anxiety that plagued me since youth. I now think clearer, my hormones have stabilized, and I am far more emotionally stable. This is a big, big deal when you are facing a difficult situation where you need all the help you can get. Right?!

I also make sure I work in some quiet alone time every day (a little challenging since I home school and we don’t have an outdoor space). Usually this happens first thing in the morning or in the afternoon while my girls read quietly in their room.

During this time, I read scripture and a devotional and then pray–things that help me keep a proper focus. I also relax and spend time doing something I enjoy. Oftentimes that involves this little blog or a book that I am reading for fun or the piano. I have my cup of tea :).

Brance is also very sweet to watch the kids for me about once a week so that I can sit quietly in a coffee shop or have a little adventure of my own (which usually mean a thrift store and china :). Those moments feel like a treat, for sure. The important thing is to find those things that recharge you and work them into your life. Whatever they are.

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I completely believe from experience that practicing gratitude and taking care of yourself will help you emerge from your trenches all the better for them!

XO,

Lauren

Whatever trench you may be in today, know that this little community is pulling for you. And you are always welcome to reach out to me in the comments or email: lauren [at] alifeenjoyed [dot]com.