Healing When Things Don’t Go My Way
I grew up in Sedalia and pretty much everyone in my family tree was born, lived, and died there. Nobody left and I didn’t want to leave either. I had plans to go to Pharmacy School and come back to Sedalia where I would live in my hometown and raise my family there, continue the legacy of a pharmacy I worked at, and serve in the church I loved and grew up in.
It seemed to be a perfect plan until God’s plans conflicted with my plan. I knew in my heart He was leading me to leave and go in a different direction. It was the biggest crossroads of my life.
We face crossroads of all kinds – crossroads like careers, where to live, who to be in a relationship with, how to live healthy lives. Most days in big and small ways, we ask, “Do I go this way or that?” for pretty much every decision we make.
But the challenge with crossroads is that many times they require us to go in the opposite direction of the way we want to go. And if you are like me, you like to have things go your way.
I wanted to stay in Sedalia and be a pharmacist. And honestly, I was mad at God for having other plans for me.
When things don’t go our way, we feel displeased. We get angry and react. Anger is a powerful emotion and left unchecked, very damaging.
Ephesians 4:26, Paul tells us to “Be angry, but do not sin.”
If we don’t deal with our feelings, we sin against self and others. Our responses are usually some forms of fight (conflict) or flight (withdraw). My reaction is to go into fight mode – taking matters into my hands and trying to win so I’ll get my way.
Which is your go-to reaction when you are displeased?
We must be aware of the seeds of displeasure because if they grow, they lead to disconnection.
Our ways of disconnecting might be to physica
lly remove yourself (when things don’t go your way) or emotionally pull back (when what you expected didn’t happen) or spiritually withdraw (when God doesn’t do what you want Him to do).
If we continue to be disconnected, we start to despair and despair leaves us feeling exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually; and it makes us question if God is good and loving.
So, how do we heal when things don’t go our way? The question we often ask is, “What do we do when things don’t go our way?”. But there is a significant distinction between healing and doing.
How do we heal when things don’t go our way?
First, we process. Process is a word that’s thrown around a lot, but what does it mean?
To process we must work through experiences we encounter emotionally. This is the first step towards healing. We must name what we feel about all our experiences. We must name our sadness, anger, and confusion. When we don’t bring our pain to God, when we don’t process, our feelings come out sideways in judgment, resentment, grudges. But often we don’t recognize it as our pain, we only look at what the other person is doing.
Ryan Leak, executive coach and best-selling author writes, “When we don’t bring our pain to God, we often end up creating some for other people.”
Second, we pray. Prayer can be intimidating – how do we pray, is there a right way to do it?
“Prayer is all the ways in which we communicate and commune with God. The fundamental purpose of prayer is to deepen our intimacy with God.” Ruth Haley Barton
Third, we participate. On a very practical level- we participate with God and connect to others to heal.
Have you heard the most recent news about the #1 health issue facing Americans? It’s loneliness. The US Surgeon General recently called loneliness a public health problem on the scale of smoking: as damaging to physical health as 15 cigarettes per day. The UK and Japan appointed ministers of loneliness in 2018 and 2021.
Loneliness is not new, but it does seem to be gaining attention as a social and health concern. Loneliness is on the rise – 58% of all Americans, with 78% of young people in the US feel lonely.
We are prone to isolate but we are designed for connection.
Connection is what is needed to heal, but there are barriers we face to connection. Where do we start? How do we get connected? Small Groups at work or church are a great entry point. Taking the leap and getting out of your comfort zone to connect will have great results for the future.
Even though it took a while to believe that God’s plans were better than mine, God’s plans were so much better than I could have ever imagined. Instead of staying displeased, disconnected, and despairing, I processed, prayed, and participated. It’s been a rhythm that has continued to provide healing when things don’t go my way. Hoping you will find healing as you consider these options when you face the crossroads on your journey and especially when things don’t go your way.