Thursday, July 15, 2010
Finding Comfort When Life Hurts
When life hurts, what do you do for comfort?
Most people don’t like a heart vacancy or a blank calendar, so they seek to fill the void with excessive eating, drinking, partying, or jumping too quickly into another relationship just to ease the pain. We are quick to want to cram the heart holes with what we think will satisfy.
But these unhealthy ways of coping are false comforters that promise relief from pain yet turn out to be harmful, unhealthy or temporary. And the vacuum remains.
When the intensity of an empty heart comes over you, everything in you just wants to feel better. You need consolation and reassurance that your feelings are valid, and that one day it really will be okay. How will you find comfort? What brings you relief and reassurance?
Here are some helpful ideas to help you get the support you need:
Let yourself cry. Tears bring cleansing and comfort. Author and speaker Jill Briscoe once said that “God gives us enough tears to keep our clay moist so He can mold us.” We are the clay, He is the potter, and God is reshaping your life for good and holy purposes.
Find true comfort. When false comforters leave you emotionally and physically stranded, it’s time to say goodbye to imitations and hello to the real thing: the true comfort found in “the God all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4). His love, His presence, and His word are healing gifts.
Talk to God. Prayer is a vital key in your healing process. Why not start each day with prayer for wisdom, guidance, and favor and end each day with a prayer of thanks and gratitude for all He’s done for you that day (whether you enjoyed it or endured it)?
Release and receive. Picture yourself standing before the Lord with open hands, palms faced up. Ask God to help you to be okay with empty spaces in your life right now, and trust Him to fill your open hands with good things.
Worship also brings healing and comfort. In worship, you’re not just singing songs. You’re focusing on God, not yourself. You are entering into His presence with a heart to give—communicating your love, gratitude and adoration—but you also end up receiving hope, healing, joy and a fresh encounter with God.
Talk with trusted friends or family members. Albert Schweitzer once said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Telling your story can help to ease your heart’s pain and bring emotional healing. When someone listens we feel validated. When someone empathizes we feel comfort and relief.
Write in a journal or notebook. Writing your thoughts and prayers in a journal can be helpful and healing. When your feelings appear on a page (or even typed online) they are no longer swirling inside your head. You can vent your emotions, release your pain, and do so in the privacy of your personal journal. You may even want to ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this?” And write the life lessons you learn.
Nurture your spirit. When your heart is hurting it’s helpful to take care of yourself and remember what makes you feel good. What would best nurture your soul, mind and body right now? Comfort comes in a variety of ways and uses some or all of our five senses, like:
the touch of a friend’s hug, a therapeutic massage, or a warm comforter around you as you rest in an overstuffed chair by a roaring fire;
the sight of the stunning beauty of God’s creation (on vacation or right in your own backyard), or a redecorated apartment;
the smell fresh cut flowers filling your living room, or a new perfume;
the taste of your favorite comfort foods (like creamy mashed potatoes or a hot caramel latte);
the sound of relaxing music, the melody of a flowing river on a nature walk, or a phone call from a kind friend who is really good at cheering you up.
May your unfailing love be my comfort…
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.