I have some dear friends that are going through what some would term “tough times.” Each of them is hurting in different ways and needs a friend, helping hand, and kind words. I thought about the old adage, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” But then I asked myself, “Do we really want to be thought of by those we love as ‘tough people’?” I realize the word “tough” is relative, and I think I know what the writer of that little bit of sage advice meant, but I find I still question the meaning.
In a more personal manner, I know I have gone through what I would term “tough times” in my own life. I was a single mother after being married for more than a quarter of a century to one man. I had children to educate, a home to pay for, and groceries to purchase. I remember clearly having to decide whether to pay the electric bill on time, put it off, or to buy groceries and gas to get to work. This time of the year was harrowing for me because I knew I could not respond as I had in the past to graduation invitations, bridal showers, weddings and such. I felt terrible because my love for the people in my life was no less — it was just that my bank account was more meager at the time.
I have also lost those I loved dearly. When my Mama Cole died and we buried her in the dark ground, I felt terrible. My sense of loss was overwhelming. I had never before that time lived one day on this earth without her by my side, either figuratively or physically. I felt that without my life anchor, I was adrift. But you know, I got through that first day and night and was able to attend the visitation, funeral and burial. And I survived. The second day was perhaps a little less frightening, and so on and on the days and nights passed and I lived. I had to live. I had children to care for, a home to keep, and a job to return to.
God really does know just how much He can trust us with at one time. I had a dear friend tell me honestly the other day that she just wished that God didn’t trust her with quite so much, and I knew what she meant.
What do we do when life is coming faster than we can comfortably handle it? What can we cling to when we don’t know we are where going or how we will get there? Where are our guidelines and our hope? What is our anchor? I can tell you with certainty that for me, it is the Word of God, my faith in Him, and the ability to pray and find comfort in being with other Christians. “My hope is as an anchor, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). I know that God loves me and that He cares for me and that even if death should come for me or my loved ones, they will be in Heaven waiting for me one day, or I for them. I sincerely believe that.
May I suggest that if you are struggling as you read this column, you take or make time to clear your head and heart, and ask God to give you guidance? He will be more than happy to do that for you because every single man or woman, boy or girl, is important to Him. Think of some positive insights you can hold on to until you are stronger. I tend to think that God will take care of me today as I remember the many times He has in the past. He has proved Himself to me over and over. I wish I learned things more easily, but I’ll admit I am a bit hardheaded — some would say stubborn — so there are times when the lessons have to be administered more than once.
Without sounding prideful, I have also learned to trust myself a bit more. I have undertaken new goals and succeeded in the past, and I can do it again. Secondly, ask yourself, “What does God want me to learn from this experience? Am I learning it well?” I love this quote I found in one of my darkest hours: “If the brook had no stones, it would have no song.” And I have also learned not to expect quite as much from myself and from others. Maybe things won’t go my way. I can change my way a bit without giving up my standards. When the way is especially hard, cling to good, solid, positive friends who are willing to help. Everyone has troubles. You are not alone.
Retrain your thinking to move toward something, rather than away from something. And learn to rest. Rome really wasn’t built in a day, and we cannot gain our losses back all in one quick step. Be willing to rest in the valley for a while, if necessary. God will be with you as you take one tiny baby step at a time. Stay with Him, for His way is best, and He can deliver us from our every trouble and sadness. May God bless you today in your need.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.