Imagery- Imagine a happy time, hurtful emotions draining from you, very relaxing scenes, etc.
Meaning- Find purpose in a painful situation
Prayer- open your heart and/or turn things over to God
Relaxing- Breathe deeply, yoga, drink hot milk, take a bath, etc.
One thing in the moment- Do one thing and focus on it
Vacation- No phone, go to a park or beach, get a magazine, eat candy…
Self-Encouragement- “This too shall pass.” Cheerlead yourself! “I can do this!”
IMProve: P is for PRAYER
My husband thanks God every night for even the small blessings. On the other hand, I was the habitual “forgive me for my sins and watch over me” kind of prayer, by this I mean the same lines in a rote fashion every night before I fell asleep. When bad stuff happened, or I really needed something, I always asked God, and I can pinpoint many times in my life where God has stepped in and something has turned out better than expected.
One such story occurred when we first moved to Ohio. We were not sure what city we would eventually end up living in, so we decided to rent a house, rather than buy one. After a few years, our girls were in third and fifth grades and had established a good group of friends and extracurricular activities. We liked where we were, so we started house hunting. We found the perfect house! Modest and pretty with a big deck on the back all set up with outdoor speakers from a big stereo in the garage.
A young couple were selling it themselves without a realtor and they proudly showed us beautiful flower beds thoughtfully planted with butterfly attracting flowers. She had a book with all of the plant descriptions highlighted so the new owner would know how to care for the garden. He had built the deck himself in order to make the most of the public park that backed up to the property.
I was most interested in the hand-painted wall treatments especially dining room wall, upon which she had painted a scripture in beautiful gold cursive from Isaiah:
“I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the path you should follow”
This is it! This is the house! We all agreed, but when I looked for mortgages, I found our low credit rating might keep us from this dream house. Settling in a new state causes some upheaval and we had gone through our share of money battles. I began to worry, and worry increased to despair. I felt like this was the house for us, but now I would never be able to make it work!
One Saturday night, about two weeks after the open house, and completely unrelated to our house problem, we decided to try out a big church in our neighborhood. We had never been to a Saturday night service before, always preferring the Sunday morning services at the churches we attended. The parking lot was packed with cars and we finally found a spot to park on the side of the church. As we walked in that side door amidst a sea of congregants, I noticed the owner of the house was right in front of me! “I think we went to your open house,” I touched her arm, “We love your house!”
Long story short, she called me a few days later and gave me the name of their lender, who we ended up using for our mortgage when we bought the house!! It was our very favorite home and we have such fond memories of the girls growing up there.
God did that!
Today, God is showing me that I don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get him to care about me. I saved my prayers for the “big stuff” even though with smaller things, I heard a little voice saying, “Pray about this.” My mind answered like a broken record, “Well, okay, I’ll pray about it, but not until I’ve…” He meets us where we are- not after we have tried everything else within our human capacity. God doesn’t say, “I’ll help you when you’ve suffered enough to hit your bottom.”
“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” Psalm 8:28
By learning how to cope in my grief, by using prayer all day long, instead of only bedtime prayers, I have found some meaning in how my life has taken this deep turn. While maybe before I would tell myself that my problems are so small. “You should be able to solve small problems yourself!” Maybe I “brought it on myself” by causing the problem to happen in the first place? Like when we sold that favorite house and bought a different one wrought with problems. It was greed that made me buy that house with a pool, and shortly after, my husband lost his job. The house became a victim of the housing crash. Why would God help me when I had made this giant mistake? Do I really deserve the time and effort of the Lord God to help solve my own issues that were caused by me?
The answer is in the scriptures and it is a resounding YES! Not only do I deserve it, but God wants me to call on Him! He is the Maker of Heaven and Earth! Now, instead, I’m asking myself, “What is stopping me from asking God first?” My response should be “Thank you, Lord! Here is what is really perplexing me today!”
But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:27