Spiritual Sundays: What Do You Do When Life Is Hard?

Photo by flicker.com/photos/annzas

Editor’s Note: The Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religions (and for mothers who are not necessarily religious). Each Sunday, we post a spiritual essay, and we would love to gather a wide variety of perspectives and ideas.  Our goal is to be respectful of all beliefs while simultaneously offering opportunities to share meaningful, spiritual thoughts with one another.

I went to visit a mother the other day who is going through ten times as many challenges as I am, and she wondered the same thing. “I know I won’t be challenged beyond what I can bear, but I feel so maxxed out. How am I going to get through this?”

The only response I could think of was regarding this principle: We are allowed to be stretched to the very maximum because we need to understand that we depend completely on a Higher Source of power as we grow through life. I know that I can’t possibly handle all that is required of me if I am relying on my own strength. However, when I admit that I’m “human” and then increase my faith, the world suddenly seems less overwhelming.

One morning when my husband was in graduate school, I was trying to get my two-year-old and eight-month-old out the door for an early appointment. EVERYTHING went wrong. I felt like an emotional, awkward ballerina–spinning, crying, and leaping through our apartment of clutter and chaos as I tried to pack the diaper bag, nurse and change my baby, discipline my two-year-old, and simultaneously leave the apartment looking somewhat tidy so I wouldn’t have to come home to a mess.

At some point during my “dance,” I gathered my children together, knelt on the floor with them, and explained, “Mommy is really tired, and I don’t know if I can handle this. Will you please pray with me?” From that point forward, everything fell into place. We made it to our appointment, I didn’t “lose it,” and I knew that I had received extra help that day from unseen sources.

Sometimes I ask for help by kneeling. Sometimes it’s a cry from my heart as I’m ushering children through a busy parking lot, and sometimes it’s a simple request as I sit by my bed at the end of the day and wonder how I’m going to make it through tomorrow.

As I think about the Lord’s power to ease the complexities of my life and solve the challenges that bring a pit to my stomach, I realize that I CAN do this. I can’t do it alone, but I can do it with help. Life isn’t meant to be full of stress, exhaustion, and frustration. These symptoms can be alleviated as we learn to see things with a clearer perspective and recognize that we’re not dependent solely on ourselves.

I’m trying to be better about stopping myself during those hard moments and asking for the help I need. My mom was a great example of this. She’d be doing the dishes or making the beds or sweeping the floor, and I would hear a whispered plea: “Father.” A couple of times, I asked her why she called out to Him. To me, everything seemed like it was going just fine, but my mother was often carrying burdens that I knew nothing about. Instead of taking her anger out on me or running out and racking up debt on the credit card or wallowing in time-wasting activities, she simply focused her faith and called, “Father.”

Our lives are going to be hard sometimes, but as we sincerely ask for help, we will receive it.

QUESTION:  How do you remind yourself to ask for spiritual help?

CHALLENGE:  Next time you start to feel totally overwhelmed, stop yourself in the process, recognize that you need extra assistance, and then ask for that help.

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Comments

  1. Emily says

    Submitted on 9-1-2010 at 01:36pm
    I totally agree. As we ask for that grace even when things are going OK we begin to do the dance with the Divine more in our lives than the clumsy ballerina dance! I’ve been on both sides, and the dance with the Divine is so much more fruitful for me, my husband, my children, and all whose lives I come in contact with.

  2. says

    Submitted on 8-30-2010 at 11:44am
    I think one of the keys is to ask for it daily, even when you’re not overwhelmed so you can recognize His guidance freely in your life.

  3. Sarah Chapman says

    Submitted on 7-1-2010 at 11:01pm
    The calling out to “Father” what a wonderful example of how your mother taught you to reach heavenward and the importance of prayer. Love it! I am going to have to incorporate that one!

  4. April Perry says

    Submitted on 6-29-2010 at 10:44pm
    Thanks, Catherine! And I don’t know why I get grumpy around my husband, but maybe it’s because I know he’ll love me even if I’m not chipper, and I need a break from being “on my game.” I’m trying to give him my best, though. Neither one of us wants to be greeted with a frown. I’ll keep trying!

  5. Kristine says

    Submitted on 6-28-2010 at 06:49pm
    You describe the “awkward ballerina” dance so well. I don’t know how it works, but asking for Divine assistance certainly makes us feel more graceful even when our situation remains the same. And you’re right: we can either drown out our problems or turn them over to God. I prefer the later. Appreciate your beautiful words and reminder.

  6. says

    Submitted on 6-28-2010 at 05:24pm
    April – what a wonderful story of action – communicating with God (alongside your children!) This was very inspiring. I am starting to see the “struggle” as essential to our relationship with the divine. They want a reciprocal relationship with us. While we are to depend on them (of course), they also want to be able to trust and depend on us. We earn that trust within the struggle. You are doing so well.

    My favorite line by the way: in a bad mood when you and your husband finally have one on one time… been there – why IS that?

  7. says

    Submitted on 6-28-2010 at 01:29am
    Thanks, Melanie!

    I love how you described your re-direction in a physical way, as well. Breathing, relaxing, and taking care of our bodies means more than I think we know! Good luck with the remainder of your pregnancy!

  8. says

    Submitted on 6-28-2010 at 01:28am
    Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so sorry you’re going through a hard time right now. You’re absolutely not alone, and I know you can do this!

  9. Melanie Vilburn says

    Submitted on 6-27-2010 at 09:50pm
    Super article, April!

    Overwhelming situations like that remind me of when my mom, then age 5, kept getting pinched in class by this obnoxious boy. Instead of asking for help, she turned around and pinched him back hard. He, of course, shrieked and the teacher came after my mom with a ruler. Life has a way of over pinching us too. I love how you shared that asking for help from God is something He blesses us for.

    When I start feeling like I’m scrunched up inside the washing machine of life while it’s on agitator or spin cycle and I start feeling the temptation to morph into a “murmering perfectionist,” counting my blessings, starting to sing, and, like you said, getting on my knees (when I’m plum out of ideas) are some ways I’ve been able to regain hope and a sense of humor.

    When I actually succumb to despair though, I’ve started to do something else. I’ve come to realize that choice leads to me “hardening my heart,” which we’re not supposed to do. Instead, and I’m sure this might sound silly, I’m “girding up my loins”.

    No, I don’t go running around like a loon in a loin cloth. It’s simply shifting the focus from my pinched up perspective, tight neck and rigid shoulders and redirecting the energy by relaxing, strengthening my tummy and focusing on my pelvic floor muscles. It’s like uplifting and giving my growing baby a hug instead of showering it with stress and toxic adrenal-cortisol. Then, knowing I’m doing my baby good, it works like a springboard to feeling like I can do more good too.

  10. C. Olsen says

    Submitted on 6-27-2010 at 07:51pm
    April

    Your article touched me deeply and was just what I needed to hear today in the midst of a very difficult trial. Thank you so much!

    • April Perry says

      Thanks, Melanie. We ALL go through hard times. I wish you the very best as you grow through your current experiences!

  11. says

    Thank you! I need to remember to kneel with my children more often and to say “Father” in times of stress as well. Thank you for this wonderful reminder!

  12. Mary Jenkins says

    Beautiful April! This was just what I needed today. I will be referring back to this article often over the next week.

  13. Jennifer says

    Thanks April! I needed this today! At times when I take Grandma out with the kids it feels a bit much. I knelt down and said a prayer with the kids today before we picked Grandma up and that comforted me! Thanks for reminding me to continue to rely on him!

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