Let's face it—it happens. There are always some of those days when you don't feel so hot. You may have had a rough day. It may have been a bad hair day. Miserable things happen. Hormones regularly work overtime. And life is not always a bed of thornless roses; sometimes life feels more like a bed of roseless thorns.
In a ministry home we are often more exposed to pains of those around us. Our lives can be very challenging. Our local church may seem full of insurmountable problems. And we still have all the everyday problems to deal with as well. We have our own disappointments, bills, sick children, moving hassles. The list goes on and on.
There are days when we will feel down. Elijah had them, Job had them, David and Solomon had them. Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life on this earth. The way we cope with our "downers" is the most important thing.
Firstly, try to analyze what it is that is making you feel down.
Is it a difficult situation or relationship? Is it criticism from I others? Are you setting your goals too high to achieve at the moment? Are sad things happening in your life? Are others trying to push you into roles with which you are uncomfortable? Do you have feelings of insecurity or loneliness? Are you eating properly and exercising regularly? Are you sleeping well? Do your "downers" follow your monthly cycle?
Consider the causes for your feelings, and see if you can do some simple things to tackle the root cause.
Take your feelings to God. Pray about them, even if you don't feel like praying. Write a letter to God, as you would to a friend, telling Him all about how you feel and why. Remember He understands, He cares, and He holds you close to His heart when you hurt.
Turn to Psalm 103, and read it slowly. List all the wonderful aspects of God's relationship to you, how He loves and forgives you, and remembers how fragile you are. Whenever I feel low, this is such a wonderful, encouraging passage to read. It makes me glow right inside, and it feels to me like a love letter from God. Maybe you have other scriptures that encourage you. Write them in a pretty notebook. Add encouraging thoughts you may have while reading the Scriptures. Clip words from cheerful cards and notes and turn to your notebook when you are feeling down.
Imagine God taking you onto His lap. In Revelation 21:4, it says that God will wipe away our tears in heaven. I like that personal picture of God wiping away my tears even now, and giving me a foretaste of the heaven to come. Imagine God wiping away your tears. Imagine what you would tell Him and ask Him if He were right here with you now.
If you can, ask someone to pray for you, or with you. You don't have to say why, just say that you would like them to pray for you. If you want to share more, then that is up to you.
At one of our ministry wives' retreats a counselor asked us to fold a piece of paper into four quarters, and answer one of the following questions in each quarter:
- What is my life like right now?
- Where would I like my life to be, ideally?
- What is stopping me from reaching my goals?
- What am I going to do about those obstacles?
This exercise can help us to clarify our situations, and may help us to pin point what we can do about the challenges we face.
If you are feeling anger or resentment towards your local church, other organization, or a person, try writing out ten positive things about them, and focus on the positive qualities for a while. If you are feeling bad about yourself, then list ten things you like about yourself.
If you find your local church constricting, consider becoming involved in a ministry outside of the local church. Consider using your skills to develop seminars for Women's Ministry events, Ministry Wives' events, Family Ministries, etc. Or become a part of a local ministry in your community. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, be a nurturer at a home for unwed teens, try telephone counseling. The list is endless.
Exercise—it releases chemicals of well-feeling into your body which can counteract the bad-feeling chemicals. Take a brisk walk in a lovely park, jump rope, swim, or dig in the garden.
Deep, relaxing breathing is helpful, and also good for your health. Take deep breaths in, and then release your breath as slowly as you can, until you feel that all the air has come out of your lungs. To make it more fun, blow bubbles, and see how many bubbles you can blow with one deep breath, or how big a bubble you can blow. Jump on the bubbles and get some exercise too. Do this with some kids and have some innocent, healthy fun!
Fill your home with flowers. Fresh flowers always lift the spirits. If you can't afford them, pick huge bunches of wild flowers, or greenery in the winter. Grow potted plants and fill your rooms with "home-grown" blossoms. Share your flowers and plants, and spread the cheeriness they bring.
Read a funny book, or watch a funny movie. Some Christian authors have the gift of humor. Proverbs tells us, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Try reading Adrian Plass' book The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (aged 37), or Jane Grayshon's works entitled Confessions of a Vicar's Wife, and Vicar's Wife on the Move. Rabbi Lionel Blue's writing is also full of gentle humor. Look in the ABC for uplifting books.
Bake your favorite cookies and share them with someone. Bake bread. If it's a disaster, grind it into bread crumbs for nut roasts, or go and feed it to the ducks in the local park.
If you feel like going on a spending spree, write a list of all the special occasion cards you will need for the next year. Reading lots of funny cards, and choosing lovely ones to buy to suit your friends and family will make you feel happier.
Find a way to learn a new skill. Choose a simple tapestry kit if you are not used to sewing, one with the picture printed on the canvas. Tapestry is very soothing, and the end result will help you to feel positive about yourself. Make the tapestry as a gift, and you will spread your cheer even further! Consider buying a complete beginner's kit to learn stenciling, quilting, cross-stitch, silk painting, etc. Learn how to make simple greeting cards, and save yourself a lot of money!
Do something to improve your home. Make a simple wreath, or flower arrangement. Plant some new flowers in the yard borders. Buy some cheerful pillows to brighten up a tatty sofa, a new towel to brighten the bathroom, new candles for your bedroom.
If you feel bad about yourself, take some time to soak in a bubbly bath, or use lavender aroma therapy oils. Do all the nice things you like to do to keep your body looking and smelling good.
If you yearn for a new outfit, look through sale racks, good will shops and charity stalls, or trade clothes with a good friend.
Go on a fruit fast, and drink only water and eat only fruit for a few days. This will cleanse your body and help you to feel more energetic.
Do one thing that will help somebody else. Clean out your closets and give sonic clothes to ADRA. Donate any special skills you have to help someone in the church or your local community. Solicit some help from friends and repaint someone's house, weed an elderly person's garden, or baby-sit for a busy single mother.
Help your spouse relax. Plan a special night with your spouse. Dress up for him, take the phone off the hook, make a special meal, or go out to eat. Have fun planning this as a secret surprise for him, just make sure he keeps the space free in his diary.
Write a list of other people who may need cheering up. Invite them to do some of these things with you. Walk in the park, have a picnic, blow bubbles, watch a funny video. Spreading your happiness increases it!
If you were feeling blue when you began to read this, I hope and pray that you are feeling a little more pink around the edges by now!