It’s been one of those days… I mean weeks… I mean, months. Will it ever stop?

For two months now, I have struggled with multiple setbacks–one right after the next. About two months ago, I started having unbearable back pain that has resulted in week after week of going to the chiropractor. About a month ago, my roommate and I started having dorm problems (I won’t go into detail). Long story short, we had to move dorms mid-semester and for all you college students, you know how stressful moving can be. It emotionally and physically distressed me to the point of breakdowns that left me feeling extremely distraught. It was a stress that I cannot put into words. Then, as if things were not already miserable enough, a week ago someone ran me off the road while driving—leaving me to spin uncontrollably into a ditch. I am completely okay and no one was hurt, but it was possibly one of the scariest moments in my life. And last (but probably not actually last), a few days ago I discovered that I have bronchitis. For someone who hardly ever gets sick with anything other than allergies, it’s quite inconvenient and altogether terrible.

So there, I just complained to you about all my problems (sorry).  Life has been rough lately. But here’s the thing: my life actually isn’t rough at all and it has taken me until now to realize that.

You see, through my back pain, I have complained. Through my dorm issues, I more than complained. I yelled, screamed, and cried. Through my wreck, I complained (because it was not my fault). Through my bronchitis I—you guessed it—have been complaining. My entire life I have done nothing but complain, and it was not until recently that I was made aware of how bad it really is.

I grew up pretty spoiled. I am in no way bashing my parents’ parenting-skills because I will most definitely spoil my kids one day, but I was spoiled rotten. And like most spoiled kids, I learned very quickly that complaining was one way to get what I wanted (or to get a whooping). Complaining has become a habit in my everyday life and I hate it. So here I am, trying to fix my complaining issue, and then allllllll these crazy problems begin to happen to me that make me want to do nothing but COMPLAIN.

Do you ever find yourself sinning and you REALLY want to stop it, and suddenly you find yourself doing it more than before? That’s how I have been feeling. For a while now, I have tried to be optimistic, joyful, and happy about everything in life–until the past two months. It seems that when I finally tried to seek the Lord and turn from a very present sin in my life, Satan says, “ha, watch this.” And the bad part is, it has worked. I have been so overwhelmed the last couple of months that my focus shifted from joyful to miserable after just a few minor issues. 

It’s hard to smile through the hard times. I have pondered whether I am being punished for something. I have questioned why all of these things are happening to just me. I have sat down and tried to read my bible just for answers. I have done numerous things to figure out what is wrong with me for all of these things to be happening to me. Why me? When will it stop? How come no one else is going through this?

Well, now that I sit here calm and relaxed (mostly from antibiotics and meds that I am taking for my bronchitis) after two months of stress and bitterness, I can finally see, think, and understand clearly.

What I see: The past two months were miserable but they could have been worse. 

What I think: I was crazy for believing that I was the only one with problems. 

What I understand: God is present through the good times AND the bad

Going into my fourth semester of college, I did not know that I was going to face so many stressful situations on top of school work. I did not know that I was going to be challenged in so many ways. I did not know that my plans to work out 4 days a week, get ahead on school work, and blog more often than I have, would get completely destroyed because of the many trials I have faced. That is the one reason this has been so, so hard on my OCD, Lilly-planner-loving self—things were not going according to my plan.

So many times in life I think that we go through trials and we feel like we are alone. We feel like we have to express our problems to everyone and their grandma. We feel like it could not get ANY worse. We feel like life is as awful as it ever could be. Well, here is the reality: There are numerous people out there with much worse situations than the one you are facing. There are people who are experiencing fatal issues that you can’t comprehend. And most importantly, there is a Savior who went through the worst pain of anyone on this earth and nothing can compare to that.

My Advice

If you are facing a dismal situation right now, here is what you should do: take a deep breath, take a step back to evaluate the misery of your setback, and compare it to being stripped, beaten, broken, mocked, ridiculed, and wounded with the weight of the cross on your own back. Now tell me, who has a hard life now? This is something I did not do. Unfortunately, I looked at my problems and complained, became bitter, blamed many people, and indulged in my pain. There were moments when I looked to the Lord and praised him, but more often than not I was wrapped up in the misery of my situation. Don’t let that be you. Don’t let yourself feel like you are the only one facing a trial. Don’t pity yourself because of what you are going through. Most importantly, don’t look for pity from other people. Look for the Lord’s presence.

It is so easy to be comfortable in misery. It is easy to complain to others and hope that they will participate in complaining with you. It is easy to act like your life is awful and that it will just keep getting worse. I know this because it is exactly what I have been doing. Don’t do the easy things.

Do what is HARD

It’s hard to be joyful when life seems to be spiraling out of control. It is hard to thank the Lord for the bad times. It is hard to seek the Lord when Satan is blinding you. It is hard to stop complaining. It is hard to be okay with your plans getting ruined. It is hard to look up to God when your world is crashing down. When life is hard, it is so difficult to put a smile on your face.

Don’t forget that you are never on your own. God knows what you are going through. He is a rock, a shield, a provider, a sustainer, a deliverer. He will deliver you from your troubles.

Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still. In the midst of your storm, be still. Be quiet. Sit in silence and feel the presence of the Lord sweep over you. Be still and know that he is a God that you can trust. Don’t let Satan say, “ha, watch this.” Don’t give in to the misery that your problems want to put you through. Let God take your situation and use it for good.

Be still and choose joy.

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