I watched Greys Anatomy the other day. Ok, what I should say is I watched Greys Anatomy all day. An episode while eating breakfast. A few while pretending to work. A couple more sitting at a local coffee shop. As night descended and the mosquitoes buzzed I was still watching my favourite surgeons run around the hospital. They laughed. They cried. They saved lives. *Spoiler alert* some of them died. That was my day.
Didn’t you have anything better to do? Yes I did. I had a multitude of other things I could have been doing, but I didn’t. I tried working for approximately three excruciating minutes before deciding it was useless. That I had nothing to write about and that the vehicle that is my brain was running on empty. Actually it wasn’t even running; the transmission refused to start.
What you just read were some of my scribblings from what feels like years ago. I remember what happened the next day. Instead of thinking about the tasks on hand my mind sidled over to what the doctors would be up to. The hardships. The triumphs. Their lives seemed so exciting. Mine…not so much.
It’s all part of the writing process. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. I remember arguing with myself. I’ll just take today off and be extra productive tomorrow.
The first…maybe. The latter…unlikely.
Though I have been known to procrastinate, this was something else. I was unhappy with, well, everything. From the work I was producing to the price of pomegranates. But mostly…me.
People would ask me how it was going, how I liked the city, and without fail some comment about the weather would pop out of my mouth quicker than I could swallow it back. The weather. That’s what I chose to talk about day after day. Because it was safe.
I didn’t want to admit it, but I was struggling. I wasn’t sure what I was doing or where I was going in life. But saying that I was struggling out loud felt like failing and I am not one for failure.
Stuck in a rut. At a loss. Adrift. Standing at a crossroads. There’s many names and tags I’ve heard that resonate with that time and that place. But what do you do to get out of the rut? To find the way forward? Here are six things that helped me.
1. Talk it out. Ever heard the phrase “The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem”? That applies here. As soon as I shared that I was struggling, it no longer felt like the whole burden was on me. Talking released what had built up inside and allowed me to gulp fresh air and perspective. Find someone you can be real with and pour it out. Being open and broken can be terrifying but sometimes you don’t know what it is that has a hold over you until you say it out loud.
2. Do it anyway. Push yourself to get back on track. Work the hours you are supposed to work. Reply to those messages you haven’t felt like replying to in ages. Go for a walk outside in the fresh air when you would rather be inside watching TV. If it’s something you know you should be doing, push aside those little voices that say “just do it later (aka never)” and do it anyway.
3. Get an attitude adjustment. Call yourself out on a bad attitude. Prepare a pep talk for when you think you’ll need it most. Have accountability people around you who can give you a quick jab with their elbow when they see you settling in to wallow in self-pity or brush up in anger. If you tell yourself ten times a day that “this is horrible” chances are it will be horrible! On the flip side, if you tell yourself ten times a day to “give it a chance” you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
4. Give yourself some grace. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your life. If you make a mistake, that doesn’t mean the whole day is void (which is often a trap I get caught up in). If you see yourself falling back into old patterns make a change and give yourself an extra bucketload of grace for not only yourself, but for others around you as you navigate murky waters.
5. Do something for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the go, go, go pace of life or the “I need to suffer and deny myself all worldly things for Christ” mindset. Take time on the weekend or during the week when you have a spare moment to do something you love. Sleep in. Go for a walk. Paint your nails. Splurge on the good chocolate. You’re worth it.
6. Turn to Him. This is most important. If you’re to take away one thing from this blog post, let it be this: Turn to Jesus. He is always there.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” – Psalm 18:2 (NIV)
Turn to Him – it sounds so easy. But truthfully…it’s not always easy for me. Because sometimes, I think I know better. In some situations I don’t want to listen for God’s voice, I just want to go with my first impulse. I don’t always feel like finding the root of the problem, I’d rather just apply a band-aid or break out the duct tape for a quick fix and carry on. But truth is, it’s better when I turn to Him. It’s not necessarily easier, but it is always worth it in the end. Turn to the Lord and give Him the day; the people, the plans and the projects. Turn to Him and trust Him with the way forward.
Rebecca is a photojournalist from beautiful British Colombia, Canada. Like a true Canuck, she loves playing ice hockey, wearing toques, and being outdoors. Rebecca is serving in southern Africa.