This week I received a letter from a dear friend who’s been going through a really tough year. With her permission I wanted to share some of her letter here:
“A few months ago I lost my job, and as you know, that job was my identity. I lost my identity. It shook my soul. I’m trying to remember that my true identity is as a daughter of God. It is hard to remember. Last year I met the man of my dreams. I prayed from the minute we started dating for Heavenly Father to guide me. I fell in love. He loved me too. We supported each other for 9 months, not even an argument. There was another lady, and after a few months he said he loved me but felt he had more feeling for her. I died a little that day. Another huge disappointment. At that point I still had no job. My family circled me. That was a beautiful blessing. I’m still grieving. 1 week later I found a job that I love, which was another huge blessing. But I do not know how to keep going. I cry before work, after work, I’m studying and praying and hoping genuinely for God’s will, but I can’t seem to find peace. How do I find the peace? I’m trying to find faith to know there is a plan. There is a plan right? How do we survive these life changing things? How do I smile and laugh? How do I become the woman Heavenly Father wants me to be and how do I want it too?”
I asked her if I could write my answer here in the hopes that it can be helpful to anyone else struggling with the same questions (don’t each of us at some point or another?!), and to get any ideas from you! So this is for my friend, and for any of you who may be struggling right now.
First I just want to say I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. There’s nothing like the pain of a broken heart, and I’m so sorry for your pain and heartache. More than anything I wish I could have you over to dinner (or even better, dessert), go for a long walk, and mostly sit and cry right along with you. Since we live too far away I thought I would write down a few ideas that have helped me in my own dark times. I hope something I say helps.
Lean on the One who gave His life and knows your pain
There is someone who has felt all the pain you have felt, and knows perfectly how to help you find comfort and peace. Jesus Christ gave His life solely so He would know how to help us through our times of need. He knows what you are going through, and wants to help shoulder your burden with you. He calls out to you, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30) Learn of the Savior’s life, study His words, His ways, and drop your burden at His feet by praying to have Him lighten it. He doesn’t want you to carry it, He already has for you!
This may be hard to do right now in the middle of your challenges, but when you can bring yourself to do it, take a minute (or an hour!) and think about the people, things, and creations, that have blessed your life. Keep a gratitude journal and write a daily list of what you’re grateful for, or write thank you notes to others that have helped you along your way, or focus your prayers only on what you’re grateful for. If your current challenges are making it hard for you to see the good, pray to have your eyes opened to see your blessings and recognize how God is already leading you. Gratitude helps lighten a heavy heart.
Do things that make you happy!
Just because one part of your life may seem particularly heavy and hard, doesn’t mean you can’t seek joy! Seek out things that make you happy, exercise, creating something, reading, a night out with friends, or a bubble bath. Do something new, enjoy being out in nature! Make time to do things that make you happy, and see if it doesn’t help!
Find worth in serving others
After one particularly difficult breakup, I remember feeling like I could never be happy again. I called my mom and asked her what I should do. She told me, just get out and help someone! It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I did it. And it worked. I believe our self-esteem is directly tied to what we give to others. When I feel worthless and alone it is usually because I haven’t done enough to serve. I think part of the reason breakups are so hard is because we have been serving and loving someone and then that person is abruptly cut out of our lives, and our worth goes right with it because we’re not giving anymore. So what can you give? What are your talents, and who needs you today? There are so many who are down-trodden, depressed, and weary, and the gifts you have may be just what they need. Often reaching out to others is the very thing that helps me find God in my own journey.
Trust that God loves you and has a plan for you
No matter what you’ve been through, please please remember that God loves you. You’re His child! He wants you to have joy! If you’re not happy yet, then you can trust that He still has something “up His sleeve” for you. In college after a really difficult breakup I found this quote “Even when love wounds you, that’s because love matters so much. The deep hurt is the mirror image of the deep joy that still awaits you.” (found here.) I believe this! The pain you feel now is preparing you for the joy you’ll have someday. Trust in that. Dream big, and continue to take your ideas and hopes to God. I know that God “satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps. 107:9). I know He will for you.
You (each of you reading this) will be in my prayers and I hope this dark night passes and the morning comes quickly. God has beautiful things in store for you, and this is just a speed bump in the good things to come!