Ahh, the depths of despair!
This week’s topic is despair, which is a cheery topic isn’t it? I’ve visited that country more often than I’d care to admit, usually accompanied by more baggage than I care to carry… but then, don’t we all?
So what do you do when you feel hopeless?
Well, I try to remember that hopelessness is a feeling and then treat it like any other feeling. I can’t control or choose my feelings, I can only choose not to sin in those moments.
So I observe it and be like, “oh look, I’m feeling a bit hopeless and down at the moment. That’s not fun.”
And I journal.
Occasionally, I punch my pillow.
I read the psalms, and let all the tears and anger and hurt come flooding out. I pray.
I don’t fight it, or to shame myself for it. So none of this: “oh my goodness Laura, how can you be so weak and pathetic and useless? You have the tiniest problems in the world but you can’t even handle them! So pathetic. I hate you so much. Just shut up and deal with it like everyone else, you pathetic, self-absorbed, space-wasting accretion on the fabric of society.” No sirree, not for me!
I remind myself that if I could “just snap out of it”, “pull myself together” or “be logical” about it all, I probably would have by now. So I probably just need a good cry and a cuppa.
Sometimes, I repeat the horrible things I’m telling myself but in funny voices. Like Pinnochio underwater, the mice in Cinderella, or a melodramatic British accent (inspired by Kate Winslet of course). Even I find it hard to take my self seriously when I do that, and it reminds me that they are just words – and not gospel truth.
Then I think about my kindred spirit Anne Shirley…
“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed.
“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”
“I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded Marilla.
“Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in the depths of despair?” ”
No, I didn’t.”
“Then I don’t think you can understand what it’s like. It’s very uncomfortable a feeling indeed.”
Or even better, my fictional alter ego Marianne Dashwood…
And then I remember the thing I love about Anne of Green Gables and Marianne Dashwood and all my fellow “prone-to-despair-ers” is their passion. Sure, sometimes they were in the depths of despair (and no one likes that), but sometimes they were soaring. They were passionate and that worked both ways.
If you’re anything like me, you find it easy to fall into those depths and let’s be honest, it is awful down there. But the reason you do is probably because you feel so deeply. You see the world in brighter colours, hear the echoes of long-gone things, and seem to walk a narrow road between despair and ecstasy. You see all the thrilling potential in the world, as well as its tragedy. If you despair, it is only because you have such hope and you know that you weren’t made for this vale of tears.
I try to remember that. Somehow, it takes the edge off.
Of course, you want to moderate the lows but I try to remember, feelings are just that: feelings. They don’t make you who you are and they are definitely not gospel truth.
So when I’m in the depths of despair, or even skirting around those depths, I try to give myself some compassion. I give myself permission to feel crappy. I drink some tea. I rant it all out.
And thank God that…
Ok… sometimes, I think that.
But mostly, I thank God that…
Go to follow and believe for more posts on what to do when you’re despairing about your vocation – or anything else!