How to Survive Bad News ……

Having had to deal with a series of unfortunate events, aka The Leminy Snicket in these parts, over the last two years I have somewhat been able to learn how to cope better with the bearing and the bearers of bad news.

It has been rough actually it’s been downright shitty to be perfectly honest.  What we consider ‘bad news’ is one of those things life tends to throw at us or that we tend to throw ourselves into.  In other words, some trouble we cause, others we bring and some [most] of it the peaceful ones haven’t asked for.   It doesn’t seem to matter.   Not to scare you, but if you’re living and living well or like a wretch, the odds of bad news coming to visit you on late nights, early mornings and midday is likely.  This doesn’t mean all the time. It certainly shouldn’t be every month (I’m praying).  But some years are just rougher than others.  Some seasons reign down stronger.

I’m not immune to it.  In the last 12 months alone, I’ve had to face a series of Leminy Snickets.  That ends today.  It has to. I’m calling bullshit and it has to come into order.  It’s been a Job season and it has to be the end of it.

Bloggers Note:  I would just like to say, I believe as a person of faith we go through many different seasons in our lives.  Some look like those of the Ruths, Jacobs and Davids.  Others feel like those of Job, Jesus and countless others.  It’s a journey. 

I was thinking about it today, and I wanted to write a post on a few of the reasons I’ve managed to survive through it – the last 12 months and the last 20 years real talk.

  1. When you find out, get the call, see the email or the deed, hear the words or are given the information through osmosis or the information fairy, don’t do anything stupid.  In other words, no taking permanent action on a situation that cannot be undone.  We’re often tempted to retaliate and do dumb shit when something is out of order or we find ourselves in a tailspin due to something that may not be out fault.  This is of course easier said than done.  But if you can sit down, walk away, leave or run and just think things through, it will be a lot better.  Going ham and ending up in jail only complicates our lives.
  2. Don’t go it alone. How many times have you had something happen or get one of those awful phone calls and then you disappear off the face of the world? I’ve done it countless times.  My recommendation is to call someone who can handle the information and manages to hold you up and support you.  In other words, don’t call someone whose attention you’re trying to get – call the person(s) that are always there to support you and are there to care for you.  I mean this.  Don’t call the person who will send you over the ledge.  We all have these people.  Just know who your emergency team is and treat them well.
  3. Bad news tends to bring out a whole host of other thoughts and processes we aren’t normally expecting to experience. Sometimes it means we need help to cope and deal.  This could mean counseling.  It could mean a sabbatical. It could mean tackling the problems first hand with an expert or professional.  Don’t be afraid to seek help.  It’s one of the best starting points.  Often they can quench our fears and put out those invisible fires we tend to create for ourselves.  Going to therapy, going to an accountant, heading to a doctor or specialist isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
  4. Don’t make drastic decisions and choices during this time unless it’s an emergency.   In other words, that plan to do something crazy or drastic after you get bad news isn’t something to do.  Contemplate it but sit on it for a while.  In other words – this means don’t turn your life inside out because you lost your job.  Another job can be found or created.   This sounds like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had to talk off the ledge in my time.   On occasion I’m the one being talked off the ledge.
  5. Have faith.  I cling to mine.  I’m certainly not a poster child Christian.  Not by any means.  If anything, I use my life as an example of the things not to do when __________ . Feel free to insert whatever really stupid thing you’d think I wouldn’t or haven’t done, something I haven’t experienced and I might surprise you.  I’m digressing as usual.  I have to cling to my faith.  I don’t really know any other way to wake up every day and have a modicum of hope.  In other words, I ALWAYS try to see God in the situation – even when I can’t early on.   Even when I don’t want to.  Even when I would much rather be angry.   I try to see and wonder what God could be up to with what’s happening at that time.  It’s one of the few things I’ve found comforting during trying times.  Even if you can’t possibly find or see anything good in the process, find something to hold on to and ride that wave for dear life.  If you can get through these patches, I promise things get better.They better get better.
  6. Get the right people around you.  I can’t stress this enough, you’re going to need other people.  So, play nice.  Help others.  Love people.  Make friends. Create family.  I have to say this – it may take you years of adding, subtracting and piecing together your network with the right people but it’s worth every bit of it.  Not everyone is going to be there in the long term.  But if you can get the right people around you – the true confidantes? You’re golden.
  7. Take all of the anger/pain/grief and hurt and turn it into something beautiful.  Isaiah 61:3 says that God will “provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”  I add this because every.single.time in the last few years I’ve received the bad news, the good, the beauty that has replaced the ashes has replaced the pain and my life has opened up at every turn.  This blog took off at one of those points.  I’ve met some of the people I’m closest with after those moments.  I have fallen in love.  I’ve been able to do some amazing things. That brokenness that comes with the bad news has allowed me to hit next level.  I’m saying that once you get off the floor and pull it together (which sometimes takes a while) then it’s time to get to work.

These aren’t steadfast rules, these are just a few I could think of given the last few months I’ve been having.  Mostly to remind myself that trouble don’t last always, as the old folks used to say and encourage you to hold on even when you don’t want to.

How do you get through?  How do you cope?

I’m thankful for all of you and that you take the time to go on this journey with me…. read, comment and share.  I’m also thankful that I have been able to share so much of what happens.  If you’re not following me on twitter, you can find me @fromraewithlove
My actual life story may not be one of notoriety but it is full of lessons…. stay tuned for the corresponding book.

Hope floats…..

Love,

Rae

Where Tragedy, Pain, Service and Love Intersect

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…Let not your heart be troubled. ~ John 14:27

….some pain, some heartbreak and some loss you can’t even begin to fathom or create a space for.  You won’t have a place to put it.  There’s no explanation, no reason for it. You’re not prepped, taught or prepared for it. You can only go through it and pray it gets better over time.

Everything that is to happen in life is not going to be pleasant.  Enter my 36 years of living and beating around our globe and I can assure you there will be things that are so inexplicable, so horrifying and tragic that well, you won’t be able to rest.  It’ll have you tossing around and your nerves bad.  You will have to look for answers.  You’ll ask God.  You won’t be able to wrap your brain around all of it.  It’s just not possible.  There won’t be answers for all of it.

I pray as you read this, as you even think of this, and tell you that this too shall pass.

With that said, I have to say these events – when they happen to us or even when they are happening around us and not to us, can alter the direction and the trajectory of our lives.  Although we may be the toughest of the tough, there will be some things that are sure to break us down, lay us flat on the floor.  They will cause that kind of silent scream you see people in the movies make.  Where their mouth is open and no sound comes out.  And when it does, there’s nothing but the sound of a wounded animal.  I have been there.   In fact, I was there earlier this week.  Let me confess, my floor and I are well acquainted.

Sometimes this means there will be times of great and inexplicable loss.  Once again, you are allowed to be devastated and you are allowed to be sorrowful and grieve.  I don’t care who you are, you are allowed your feelings.  It may be anger or confusion.  It may be frustration.  It may be you and God having a Come to Jesus meeting.  These things may even stretch you out for some time.

Definition of “to stretch out” (verb)

Where something you hear, learned or has happened to you or someone else you know and love causes you to have a fit, cry, flail around your floor.  You may not eat,  you may miss work, you may lay out in your floor and cry and scream and people are generally even concerned for your well-being because you just don’t seem to be the person they thought they knew.  Please note – this is not a common phenomenon for all.  There are only a handful of people who are that sensitive to the world.  Consider yourself lucky if you do not suffer from having this style of compassionate heart. 

I am one of those people who sometimes gets stretched out in the floor by what she has heard, found out, or learned.  In this way, I am super emotional. I can’t stop the process.  I don’t really try to stop it any more.  There may be a delay in it for me, but it’s coming one way or another.  Prolonging the process makes it even more devastating and that much worse.   Trust me.  If you try to hide from your devastation – it will seek and destroy you.

But once you can manage and it could be days, months or years (I pray not years) – I ask you to still remain open to love and to be of service. If we are to believe that all of our troubles will one day be over, if we are to believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones, if we are to believe it all works together for those that love God, it makes it crucial to have faith in God and pick yourself up, dust yourself off once you’ve rolled around and then be of service elsewhere.  Isn’t that the point?

Ok – so, y’all may be tired of me mentioning the Bible, but I already warned you in the “About Me” section that I talk a lot about God.  I have my reasons and I will not apologize.  I digress.  I have to make a point here….

Look, if you’ve ever read Job (and if you never have, please read it…the New King James version or NIV version should hook you right up. I also have a Life Applications Study Bible and it really explains a lot of the story and breaks down study points), even a section of Job, you know God goes in on this man! He loses everything – wives, children, livestock, health.  The only thing God didn’t allow for the devil to touch was his actual life – He forbade the devil to kill him.  I will have to talk more about this later.  Go read it.

Pulling from the intro to Job in the Life Study Applications Bible (referred to as LSAB from here on), “But in the end what broke Job’s patience was not the suffering, but not knowing why he suffered…When God finally spoke He didn’t offer Job an answer.  Instead, He drove home the point that it is better to know God than to know answers.”

The LSAB goes on to mention, “Sometimes, suffering shapes us for special service to others.  Sometimes suffering is an attack by Satan on our lives.  And sometimes we don’t know why we suffer.  At those times, are we willing to trust God in spite of unanswered questions?”

I mean, I really think Job has to be the greatest Come to Jesus meeting I’ve ever read or really that has ever been written.  He really gets Job together.  And here’s the thing – God ALLOWED  for all of the tragedy that took place in Job’s life.  He didn’t cause it.  He wasn’t the author of it.  He just allowed for it to happen.  So if Job can lose everything and not curse God, so can you and me.  Job definitely questioned God’s reasoning behind it and I think God appreciated it.  He still had to get him (Job) straight though.  Seriously.  That book originates the Come to Jesus meeting!!!  And then guess what, after Job lost it all – I mean EVERYTHING, and God has this loooonnnngggg talk with him (42 chapters of going in on him) – God restored him.

“After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.”  Job 42:10

Then, it goes on to add:
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.  He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.  And he also had seven sons and three daughters.  The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.  Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.  After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years, he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.  And so he died, old and full of years.  Job 42: 12-16

Don’t allow the hatred and vitriol (one of my favorite grown up words), the mayhem and the tragedies take what is inherently an open and loving person and shrink you down to a bitter,shriveled up, treacherous  Gollum.  It will reduce the quality of your life and lessen your effectiveness at service to others. By the way, others doesn’t have to mean the world – it means YOUR world.  Those you can directly touch.

Over the years, from embarassment, tragedy, crazy decisions, I have hidden from many people and allowed certain events to dim my level of service, my willingness to put myself out there.  I have allowed these things to “shelve” me so to speak.  Where I sit at home and resign myself to the bad decisions or the tragedies.

Not any more.  Each of these things that’s happened or I played some role in have shaped me to the very person I am.  It’s meant to be shared and hopefully help others.  In fact, with each thing that happens, I’ve realized service and a heart to serve is even more important than I believed it had been before.

Note to self & other readers: Getting up off the floor doesn’t mean you like what happened or are even ready to accept it in its entirety, but it does mean you will move forward with your own life. It’s possible with these sorts of events that what was now your straight line has this indelible mark on it.  A fixed point of tragedy I like to call it.  It may change your course just one degree but the one degree can change the course of your life.  It can be for the better or it can be for the worst.   That is your choice.  Choose to make it for the better.

Today, based upon this year’s events, this month’s events alone, I know the trajectory of my life has been forever changed.   It’s for the better.  I pretty much suspect all of this was in the plan anyway.  It will be for the better because I make a conscious and open choice to allow God to work in and through me.  I make a conscious choice to place a smile on my face and greet the day with hope and with love.  I choose to forgive.  I have to admit, when reading Job it gives me hope that these next 36 years and beyond will be more blessed than the first.  That in itself is reason enough for me to have hope that can carry me.

It is in these times that God breaks us wide open.  These things make us weed out what’s important and what’s not. They make us re-evaluate.  Re-assess.  This to me is where tragedy, pain, service and love intersect.  It’s in these moments we must remember our purpose on this planet – which is love and ultimately – service.

You will only regret not loving someone more or serving more.  You will only regret not spending enough time with loved ones or reaching back to help someone when they asked you for assistance.  It doesn’t mean you’re a door mat.  It doesn’t mean the word “no” shouldn’t come out of your mouth.  It means that you’re open and available and that you can choose to make a difference in a few people’s lives.  Those are the things you will be glad about:that you loved, helped, nurtured, cared for, assisted and forgave.  And that you repeated these all throughout your life.

I love y’all.  Really, I do.  Each and every one of you who reads this blog, comments, sends me emails and tweets.  All of my friends.  All of my family.  I wish you  restoration, more hope, love and the ability and desire to serve.

Love,
Rae

P.S. A lil video love for you…because we gotta get up