Jul 242017 0 Responses

When Your Life’s About to Fall Apart

It’s a phone call they hate to make, but one I don’t mind to receive. They’re at rock bottom. What’s been hidden is about to be revealed. Some feel panic. Others are distraught. Some are so overwhelmed they can’t feel anything.

For many, it’s the first time in a long time to reach out to anyone, much less a pastor. But they are desperate. The specifics differ in each situation. Some are facing arrest. Others are dealing with a facade of success about to crumble. Some know their marriage is lost. But all feel a sense of shame, dread, and the reality that life as they know it is soon to end.

As they call, I have to temper my excitement. While they are desperate, I am hopeful. I’m not in denial of their circumstances, but I can see something they can’t–hope. For many people, the moment they are caught is the greatest opportunity of their lives. As long as their problem was hidden, they had little chance of healing. But once the problem is in public view, they have an opportunity to truly change. (See: Secrets Kill–Choose Life Through Honesty)

3 Steps When Life’s Falling Apart

When your life is about to (or already has) taken an undesired turn, here are the three things you must do:

1. Own it. Until you own your actions, you have little chance of change. The simplest litmus test of emotional health is whether or not you own what you do (or have done). Unhealthy people hide, blame, and deny. They reject personal responsibility and always see themselves as a victim. Healthy people understand the decisions of others impacts them, but they are not defined by others. They own their actions and they fixate on what they control. Addiction isn’t your parents’ fault. Continual career failure isn’t because of all your bad bosses. One broken relationship might be because of someone else, but a series of poor relationships is on you. Own what you own. Don’t own anything else, but own your decisions, your role, and your actions.

2. Fix it. Sometimes there is very little that can be done other than seeking forgiveness from those you’ve hurt. But in many situations, not only can you seek forgiveness, you can also make amends. Learn from your mistakes. Make better decisions. Surround yourself with wise people and follow their advice. Take action where you can take it. You may not control everything, but you do control some things. For many, fixing it first means getting help to understand why we made the poor decisions in the first place. Working with a counselor to understand our mistakes can prevent us from repeating them and empower us to make wise choices. Saying you are sorry is only meaningful if your actions prove your words. (See: Remember This When You Make a Mistake)

3. Outlast it. Life changes. We should never allow a single snapshot–good or bad–to define us. It takes faith, but we can truly believe that a series of wise choices will produce a good result. Determine that you are going to outlast the circumstance–your shame will be removed, your reputation will be restored, better days will be ahead. Most people aren’t destroyed by a few bad choices. They are destroyed when they lose hope that things can change. When you believe life is over, that belief can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most successful people have had a moment or two in which their life has fallen apart, but they outlasted it. Let people say what they are going to say. Simply do your work, endure the season, and trust that you will come out on the other side. (See: In Your Darkest Day, Survive and Advance)

Each of us has the capacity to do stupid things. In spite of our best intentions, we can make decisions to ruin our lives. But if your life is about to fall apart, there is hope. When you own it, fix it, and outlast it, your worst mistakes don’t have to become life-defining mistakes.

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