Life can feel like one challenge after the next. Or maybe, when things are good, we have a hard time trusting the good, because it feels like we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.
The Theology Of The Body reminds us that although the world is fallen, God is working through us to rebuild his kingdom. Carrying our cross doesn’t mean just learning to put up with the problems and frustrations of this broken world, but rather to face them with strength and virtue and where possible, through God’s grace, to overcome them. Pope St. John Paul reminded us that focusing on what God created us and the world to be is more important than focusing on what we and the world are today.
We tend to get frustrated when we have to deal with persistent problems, challenges, and stressors. Of course, that’s understandable. But when we look through the lens of the Theology of the Body, we can see that God is always giving us the grace we need to bounce back in the face of trials and respond in ways that help us to cooperate with his grace and make a positive difference. As Christians, we’re called to do whatever we can to show the world that God’s power is always working in us–even in the middle of persistent problems–and that he is giving us the ability to make whatever challenge we’re facing better–even if just in small ways.
It’s true that some days that work can seem harder than others. But there are a few tips we can draw from the Theology of the Body to persevere even when we start to doubt ourselves or feel worn down. First we need to keep our eyes, not on what’s in front of us, but rather on how God wants to work through us to make the situation into what he wants it to be. Second, we need to remember that it isn’t all up to us. We need to keep bringing the situation to God–not just once, but again and agin until its resolved– and ask him to help us discern the next small step. Third, we need to lean into virtue–that is, the spiritual strengths God wants to give us. We need to prayerfully ask, “What are the virtues or strengths would help me overcome this challenge and what would it look like to practice them?” Fourth, we need to look at failure–not as a closed door–but as feedback that we bring back to prayer and then leads us back thought these steps until we find the solution. If we can work this process, we can fulfill the promise that St Paul makes in Romans 8:28 that to those who love God, all things work to the good.
Here are three practical steps to accomplish the above points:
1. Center Yourself– When you’re struggling to recover from a setback or disappointment, before doing anything else, the first step has to be centering yourself. Bring the situation to God, pray, “Lord, help me rest in you, trust in your grace, and gather the resources and support I need to make a plan and see this through.” Then refocus on a goal–any goal–that represents the next small step you can take. You’ll feel less like running away if you can identify the next step forward and focus on gathering the resources to help you take that next step.
2. Get Out of the Tunnel–We often find it hard to bounce back from disappointments or challenges because tunnel vision causes us to get stuck trying to find the one big thing we can do to solve this problem once and for all. Especially with more complicated situations, there is rarely one thing you can do to make the problem disappear. Instead, concentrate on the next small thing you can do to either address the problem or insulate yourself from the problem or both. Focusing on small steps you can take in several areas– instead of searching for ultimate answers to the one big question–allows you to come out of the tunnel and begin to see new options on the horizon.
3. Make A “Got It Done” List–We all know about To-Do lists but what about making a “Got it Done” list? Sometimes we struggle with bouncing back from a problem or setbacks because we feel like we’re just not up to the challenge. You can combat these feelings by intentionally calling to mind–and better yet, writing down–all the past times in your life when you were sure you weren’t up to a challenge but, through God’s grace and your good efforts, you managed to succeed. Making a “Got It Done List” will help you remember that you have conquered many difficult situations before and remind you that between you and God, there is nothing you can’t handle moving forward.
Looking for more practical steps to navigating life’s challenges? Check out our videos, books, and pastoral tele-counseling services at CatholicCounselors.com.
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