I’ve fallen into my therapist’s cozy couch three times this week alone.
Yep, it’s been that type of summer.
Let me start by acknowledging this isn’t a post I expected to write. I’m typically a glass-half-full, encourager — lover of life and all things sparkly, celebratory and fun. And I love summer—hanging out with my kids, picnics in the park, late night ice cream parties, and oodles of family fun.
But not this summer.
Just between me and you, I told my therapist 2016 is going down in the books as “The Summer from “H-e-double hockey sticks.”
Just keeping it real, friends.
Now in case you’re thinking, “But CIndy, I follow you on FB. You’re writing a book. You taught at two awesome speaking conferences. Your family is healthy, you have a home. What could be so bad?“
Friends, let’s not assume because someone is smiling on the outside, there isn’t pain and struggle on the inside.
Whereas I’m not at liberty to share the story behind my pain yet, if ever, I felt a strong sense to share these words today.
In case you’ve been scrolling through the happy social media feeds—filled to the brim with smiley spouse challenges, beautiful beach pictures, and fantastic family reunions—believing everyone is living the dream and having a blast—y’all, it’s just not true.
If you summer has looked anything but picture perfect, please know you are not alone.
Here’s what I’m learning to grow stronger in the midst of a season of struggle:
1. Tell Someone.
It’s been very helpful to have a therapist and a small handful of close girlfriends to share how I am really doing. Their words of Truth, love and encouragement have helped breathe life into my bruised and weary soul. We don’t have to tell everyone, but tell someone.
2. Turn off social media and turn to God.
Honestly: most days I want to stay curled up under my blankie and drink an insane amount of Starbucks while numbing out on Facebook or Instagram.
This would not be a healthy, helpful way to deal with my stress and allow God to heal my weary soul.
So even when my flesh doesn’t want to, I have been putting down my phone and going to the Throne. Reading. Listening to Truth-filled teachings. Walking with a praying friend. Sitting in the pain and quiet (Ugh). You get the drift.
3. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a girlfriend.
In my season of struggle, things are going undone: emails are left unanswered, FB messages pile up, I’ve had to cancel phone calls and meetings, and others get disappointed.
I’m learning to extend much grace to myself. Here’s my daily self-talk strategy:
- I will talk kindly to myself.
- I will remind myself my worth is not based on what I do, how clean the house is, and whether or not we have weeds growing in our flowerbed (phew) or Easter egg decorations still out.
- I will extend the same grace to myself I would to a close friend. If I wouldn’t say it to a friend, I don’t say it to myself (i.e. I’d never say, “I can’t believe you took a nap today. You’re so lazy!” so I don’t bully myself either.)
- If I’d say it to a friend, I will say it to me. (i.e. “Wow, you are going through hard stuff. Why don’t you put your feet up and enjoy some time reading or resting?” Yes, please.)
Let’s sprinkle grace everywhere we go, starting with ourselves.
Lastly, I am learning to pay extra close attention to how is God at work, and where is He leading and guiding. How can I praise Him today in the midst of the pain? How can I choose joy? How can I receive and share His love? What is helping restore my soul?
I’m also paying attention to make sure day by day I’m making progress. If I get stuck in my sadness, or do not see improvement, I will make phone calls and/or appointments, as necessary. (Thus the reason I went to see my therapist three times this week.)
Enough about me, how about YOU?
Sweet friend, I hope you have had the best summer ever. I pray this is a summer that will go down in the books as an absolute blast!
But, if you summer has been anything but fabulous, please know, you do not have to journey alone. Pay attention to how you are doing, and if you find yourself slipping into sadness, tell someone. Today. Promise?
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but thankfully we know the One Who does. And this I know: He gives rest to the weary, He binds up the brokenhearted, and He restores our souls.
Can I get an Amen?! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles,* friend. I thank God for you!
Oh Cindy, I’m so sorry to hear of the sadness behind your smiles, but thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. This is such a great reminder, we so often see the best of people whether in person or on social media. Thank you for the heart check for myself, and for the reminder to “talk to myself like I’d talk to a girlfriend”…that is the hardest thing for me when I get in a slump! I pray you find rest in His arms and continue to lean on His truths…much love!!
Thanks for your prayers, dear Jenni! I hope our paths cross again soon. Sweet blessings to you! xo
Well I think I know what you mean. I’ve been struggling this summer with vertigo, trying to make it a fun summer and most of the time I feel like I am working so hard to just keep my head above water. I remind myself to “Do the next thing” and try to keep going by God’s grace. But weaved throughout it all are happy moments and precious memories being made. God is still on the throne and I trust Him and His Word 🙂 Thanks for sharing and encouraging today!
Theresa, I am praying for you right now. Asking God to infuse you with His grace, and give you eyes to see the happy and precious times. May you continue to lean hard on God and His Word. I’m so thankful He never fails! xo
Praying for you! Great advice here. I’ve had my share of difficulty in this season. Hugs!
Thanks, Barbie. Hugs to you too! xo
Thank you for being open and real about your struggle, Cindy. Social media makes it all too easy to project an image that is far from the truth. I’m praying for you, friend.
Thanks, Cindy for your honesty – And your encouragement!!
I just had this discussion with a friend of mine about how social media “always” projects smiles and happy times! It’s very rare to find a post of “the struggle is real”. The struggle is very real for a lot of people. I often sit and watch people and think “I wonder what that person has or is going through”.. We so often hide behind our smile and the “I’m doing good”, because it’s what is acceptable. Thank you for sharing my sweet friend and know that I’m praying for you! Love & hugs your way
Praying for you that these dark days will be over soon. Put them in our Saviour’s hands.
Oh Cindy – can we get together and just share some non-judgmental tears for a bit???? My summer, too, was the worst EVER. 49 summers and this one takes the cake for shittiest. We moved into an old renovated, piece-of-crap house that we had been working on for months, but didn’t get it finished on time (picture washing dishes in the bathtub and sheets covering the windows, and boards with protruding nails on the stairwell…..), I had a hysterectomy 3 weeks before the move, my 18 yr. old daughter had a tonsillectomy 2 weeks after the move, my husband started a new job venture in the midst of all this that’s not exactly taking off, I’ve been sick from the medication prescribed for my lung disease, my blood pressure sky-rocketed after the hysterectomy, I can’t sleep at night from the hot-flashes but can’t take hormones because of the lung disease, my mother-in-law keeps falling at the nursing home and we are the only ones to care for her (several ER visits), my dad has end stage colon cancer and we’ve called in hospice this summer, and then, because the enemy of our souls loves to attack us when we’re down, our marriage has been seriously strained through all this mess. I’m sure that was WAY more than you wanted to hear! But I’ll thank-you anyway. Because it felt good to share. I think we all need to know that when we are going through dark seasons, we are not alone. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing so honestly. I’m totally going to use the suggestions you’ve made! I love you, girlfriend!
Love you too, Cindy D. I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Coffee this fall? It’s been too long! xoxo
Amen! Thank you so much for sharing! Love you, Cindy! Appreciate your honesty. I had a pretty good summer, actually a very good summer. I’ve been married to my man almost 26 years. We are getting close (only 4 more years!) to being “empty-nesters”! We’ve had some real up’s and down’s…and some pretty down down’s, in the course of 26 years! This spring I got really concerned about the whole “empty nest” thing…Yikes! Do I even like this guy who will be the only one in the nest, with me?!? I wasn’t sure. Spent some time working on re-connecting with him and it was good. It takes work, but it is good. It is worth the effort!
Thanks for sharing how you are really doing, Mandi. I sure appreciate you and your authenticity, friend. You are a treasure! xo
Thank you for sharing this, Cindy. My summer has overall stunk too and it’s not over. Maybe we need to have coffee. Or tea. Or therapy :).
Oh Adrienne, I’m so sorry your summer hasn’t been stellar either. Sign me up for all three–coffee, tea, and therapy too! 🙂
Lifting you in prayer now, friend! xo
I feel you, Cindy. I’ve cried more in one week this summer than all the other weeks of the year combined! There was some great stuff but some really hard and stressful stuff, too. And I’m keeping it real with people. I’m a teacher, so everyone always asks, “Have you had a good summer?” I’ve been giving the real answer. And when I return to school I think I’ll change that question up and ask what was memorable about the summer or how have you seen God at work this summer. Because it isn’t always sparkly. Thanks for your words today.
Kendal, I am thinking of you and praying for you as you transition back to school. I love your comment “it isn’t always sparkly.” How I wish it was–but in this world we will have trouble. Thanks for your comment and authenticity, friend. xo