We have all experienced disappointment. Setbacks, heartache, reversals, and just plain painful experiences. My neighbor is a United Methodist pastor, and the process of disaffiliation and separation they are experiencing is painful. Some have experienced painful circumstances visited upon them by their parents, children, trusted individuals, institutions, and so on. How do you move on? How do you get past all of the pain?
How do you move forward while dealing with disappointment, loss, and pain? Here are a few suggestions
- Abandon the hope that the past will be better! The past is over! What happened did indeed take place. The hurt was /is real! It will not get any better no matter how hard you try to change it; you cannot change what happened! Acknowledging this truth is one of the first steps toward healing and moving forward. At this point, I would seek a counselor or a trusted friend to assist me on this part of the journey. It happened, the event cannot be changed, but I can.
- Acknowledge that you are grieving and or in pain! One aspect of self-care is acknowledging you are in pain and wading through the grief. It is essential to find someone to help you with this journey. Talking to someone who can give you insight and help you navigate this season is essential. Don’t deny, but recognize where you are and, more importantly, what has happened. There is wisdom in making sure you take of yourself.
- Put one foot in front of the other! Victory, at times, is measured by little wins. You may not get over what has happened, but you can get through it. Remember that it will not happen overnight.
- Manage expectations, especially your own! How often, as a pastor, did I hear people express sadness that they are letting the situation they found themselves in bother them? Something would be seriously wrong with us if we went through certain events without taking time to heal and regain our equilibrium. Life is challenging, things happen and your pain is real!
- Exercise! Going through a challenging trial a few years ago I learned how important exercise can be. It was a difficult, exhausting, and frightening time. At about that same time, I discovered the power of exercise. Not only does it help physically, but I realized going through this hard place, that exercise also helped me stay grounded and emotionally balanced.
- Don’t ignore your spiritual life! Having been in the ministry for 42 years, you knew this was coming. I can testify that He has been there in the darkest times as well as the times of rejoicing. I have come to understand He is faithful. Our faith reminds us that this world is not all there is, there is life eternal where God makes all things new.
- Do not stay in isolation! When we are hurting, we feel like going to bed and staying there. We need the help and presence of others. I am not talking about sharing all the details with everyone you see. Find a close friend or relative, commit them to confidentiality, and allow them to assist and minister to you. We are better together. Alone time is essential, but one needs the help that comes from being connected and not isolated.
- Remember seasons come and go! When we are in the midst of a crisis it seems never-ending. Stop and reflect and recollect some difficult experiences and days from years gone by. Do you remember when you were in the midst of those circumstances how you thought they would never end? This too shall pass. Again the pain and sorrow are real, with God’s help, you will move forward one moment at a time.
If you are going through this kind of experience right now. Please take care of yourself, and know that though it absolutely may feel like you are all alone, you are never alone. God is for you and He will be with you.
Remember the promise of Jesus:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Because He has overcome, He can help and will help you to overcome!