My eyes looked at the calendar with excitement and a healthy dose of dread. It was nearly August, with the start of a new school year just days away.
As a student, I always loved this time of year. But as a mom to a special needs child? Well, it’s turned into a time of year I’ve come to dread with every fiber of my being.
For a child on the Autism spectrum, transitions of any kind prove pretty challenging—but coming back to school after a lazy, lovely summer is one of the most difficult challenges with which we’ve dealt.
And let me tell you, this year was another doozy. Over the years of difficult school beginnings, I’ve learned to no longer expect easy—but even with my low expectations, I found myself in a puddle and driving away from school with eyes blurred by tears.
So many tears. So many years of struggling through difficult beginnings and transitions. Will this ever get easier, Lord?!
Can you relate? I wonder if there’s a struggle you’re facing, one that you’ve been facing for what may feel like forever. You long to turn the proverbial page and move on, leaving that trial in the past—but it’s simply not possible.
The health issue isn’t improving. Or the relationship isn’t progressing. Or the prodigal isn’t returning.
Whatever your specific struggle, I understand how hard it can be to keep going when you’re just feeling worn to the bone. No matter how much you pray and cry, the relief you desperately desire simply doesn’t arrive.
I think of Paul’s lovely, inspiring words to the Galatians, to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9).
But how do we keep going when we’re utterly exhausted and need more than a pep talk?
Here are three practical, simple steps God’s been impressing upon my heart in recent months. I pray these encourage and help you, too, as you carry a heavy load:
1. Acknowledge your grief
Walking a challenging road is hard enough—but how much do we add to our exhaustion by layering on the need to “keep up appearances”? As Christians, we sometimes even have the wrongly held Spiritual belief tucked into our hearts that we should always be ok.
But oh, my friend, if Scripture models anything for us, it’s having an honest, open dialogue with God about our heartache, doubt, and fear. From Job to Jesus, we see God’s followers cry out to Him with candid and authentic speech. There’s even an entire book of the Bible dedicated to lament (e.g., Lamentations—and it’s one of my favorites when my heart feels weighed down by sorrow!).
God doesn’t ask us to pretend everything is ok when it simply isn’t. You can bring your honest grief before Him, let it all out, and rest in the comfort of the God who knows and loves you beyond measure.
2. Share the burden
Carrying a heavy burden becomes nearly unbearable when we’re doing so alone or isolated! God created us for fellowship, not just for the happy and celebratory times but also for the tough times. Our enemy wants us lonely and trapped in our own heads because, in this place, he can have a field day with our thoughts and beliefs.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us of the importance of community:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
We can lighten the load and stop the spiral by sharing our struggles with a safe and trusted friend, family member, or counselor.
3. Practice gratitude through your tears
For me, this has been the hardest and yet most transformative step of all. And more often than not, I find that when my heart is feeling the least grateful, that’s when I need to stop and practice gratitude the most.
I used to think of practicing gratitude as something we do with a happy smile and a light heart—a practice limited to the good times. But oh, friend, the power of gratitude extends far beyond the borders of happiness. Sure, we can easily give thanks when life runs smoothly—but giving thanks in the dark lights the way ahead.
If you’re finding it challenging to cultivate a grateful heart in your exhaustion, please know you’re not alone—and that I very much understand! So today, let’s draw comfort and strength from the words of David:
“I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:17 (ESV).
Sometimes, giving thanks is indeed a sacrifice—but what a beautiful gift we can offer Him. I believe our words of thanks, whispered through the tears, bring an incredible amount of blessing to our lives and joy to God’s heart.
Dear one, I am praying for you as you seek to remain faithful through the valley. May you feel God’s presence and strength as never before! Tell me, which one of these three steps could you begin taking this week?