Dealing with major changes in life is hard enough; but dealing with unexpected change and sudden turmoil can be devastating. I'll be the first to admit, I don't usually deal well with unexpected bad news, but by God's grace I am learning to handle it better.
Here are four tips for dealing with the unexpected that may help you get through a difficult and challenging time.
While it's understandable that you can't immediately accept what happened, one thing you can accept is the fact that you are not in control of everything. No one can control every aspect of their lives, and when it comes to the unexpected, it's often something outside of your home or family anyway. You can control yourself, to some extent, anyway.
My Grandfather used to always say “God is not surprised.” This was his answer for every surprising thing that happened. He said it often enough that it is now one of the first things I think of when the unexpected happens. God is not surprised. He knew this would happen and allowed it for a reason. This helps me accept the circumstances a bit more, and look for the reason or meaning in the trial.
2. Give Yourself Time to Grieve
If the unexpected event is something that makes you grieve, go ahead and do it. Set aside some time to feel sad, and don't guilt-trip yourself over it. It's not “wallowing” in the problem if you're doing what you need to do emotionally within a reasonable time.
Also, give yourself space to delay grieving if need be. This may sound like it contradicts what I just said, but really, it doesn't. The point is to grieve when you're ready, whether it's right after the event or some time in the future. Other people may tell you that you should be “over it” by now, or that you're over it too quickly, or any number of things. Your grieving is yours – it's not something to please other people or present the “correct” appearance. Take your grief to the Lord for he is the one who truly understands and can comfort your heart.
3. Focus on Your Purpose
A purpose can serve as an anchor when sudden change and unexpected tragedy come your way. A clear purpose, your “why”, whether it is large or small, long-term or short-term can help you hold on to your dreams and goals when unexpected events threaten to shake your resolve. The why behind your dreams and goals can act as a beacon in the middle of a dark time. And if it is so overwhelming that you don't know what to do, simply get up each day determined to do the next right thing as you walk through the day. Pray for wisdom. God promises to give it (James 1:5).
4. Look for Opportunities
Many times, unexpected change brings with it unexpected opportunities. But you might miss them if you're not looking for them. It's understandable that you need time for the shock to wear off and to get through the grief. But if you start looking, you might find some great opportunities – maybe the loss of a job will spur you into going into business for yourself, something you were afraid to do before. Or the sudden loss of a loved one might cause you to examine their legacy and might even inspire you to write their biography. You might also find someone in the midst of a similar pain that you can reach out to. Focusing on helping others often helps me get my mind off of myself and improves my outlook during trying times.
Unexpected changes and sudden turmoil in life can throw just about anyone for a loop. But with the Lord's help and the right mindset, you can not only weather the storm, you can come out stronger.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Do you have a favorite tip or help for dealing with the unexpected? Please leave us a comment, I'd love to hear it. And don't forget to subscribe in the box to the left so you never miss a post!