How to Find Relief in a Time of Hurting

Jennifer Maggio

The Life of a Single Mom
Published: Sep 02, 2020
How to Find Relief in a Time of Hurting

“It feels like I am attempting to breathe while underwater. The weight of it all is like a stack of books placed squarely across my chest. My attempts to breath in fresh, life-giving air are futile and only leave the weight heavier and seemingly more impossible. The daily smile I force is merely a facade that hides the ache inside. The heaviness of a life full of obstacles is weighing on me and somehow I feel I cannot go on. The waves of overwhelm crash so quickly against me that I cannot catch my breath, before another comes. I’m trying really hard. I’m praying. I’m running fast, but it seems that I’m going nowhere.

I wrote this in January 2020. This was written long before a pandemic hit our country, millions were left unemployed or racial unrest was at an all-time high, and still months before the largest hurricane in the history of southwest Louisiana came ashore. In fact, I was sitting at work and pulled out my phone, opened the notes section, and could hardly type as fast as it was coming to me. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was drowning at that time. I didn’t necessarily feel this way, myself. But it was as if the Lord was telling me that there was coming a day really soon, when not only I would feel this way, but thousands around me would.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/coffeekai

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When You Can’t Come up for Air

Perhaps this resonates with you. You never expected to be here, wherever “here” is for you. That place, the feeling of desperation, is the impossible place where hope seems hard to find. The “here” is trauma, disappointment, stress, overwhelm, death, parenting challenges, and financial strain. It’s not simply the weight of one thing, but the weight of many. It causes you to barely function. It’s suffocating. It feels like it may kill you. It has certainly killed your joy, your spirit that roamed freely, and your laughter that once filled a room.

I am writing to the weary, hurting one today—the one who feels she cannot go on and that this week, this month, or even this year, has been too much. I am writing to tell you that you are seen. You are seen by the one true God—not a feeling, an energy, an aura, or a vibe—but the God who created heaven and earth. And while I don’t understand the depths of your pain, I know the depths of my own. And the God I serve has been a faithful healer of all my broken places, when I’m hurting, when I feel I cannot come up for air. He’s healed, not just once or twice, but a hundred different times and a hundred different ways. Each time he heals me, I am left more amazed than the time before.

Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Ian Espinosa

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senior white woman looking ill or in pain sitting on bed, how to find relief when hurting

11 Things to Do in a Time of Hurting

As I began this encouragement for you, the Lord poured out upon me 11 things that every hurting woman can do during a time of hurting to find relief.

1. Watch the company you keep.

How do you feel when you hang up the phone from a conversation with your friends or end an evening of girl chatter? Is it life-giving? God-honoring? Do you feel encouraged, like you’ve just been surrounded by holy warriors ready to plunder Hell on your behalf? You do not need a negative-talking, life-sucking, hope-stealing naysayer in your life. Yes, recognize that those types of people need the Lord, too, and certainly point them in that direction. They just don’t need to take up residence in your inner circle!

2. Avoid isolation.

The hardest thing to do when the weight is heavy and hurt is flowing is to be with people. It’s our most natural instinct to retreat and avoid human interaction at all costs. Yet, it is the most dangerous. There is danger in the isolation. Make yourself get out, or at least invite people in. Stay connected to church. Attend Bible study. Invite friends over for coffee. Engage in a game night, even when you don’t feel like it.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/fizkes

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3. Take care of your temple.

When you are hurting, it can be easy to over or under-eat, avoid physical activity, or stay in bed incessantly. However, those things only exacerbate the problem. Stay committed to taking care of your physical body. It overwhelmingly helps your emotional state improve.

4. Be honest with God.

He already knows anyway. Maybe you’re mad. Maybe you suffered tragedy you did not deserve. Maybe you’ve suffered immeasurably too many times to count. Stay in communication with God. Don’t shut him out. He loves you and your honesty won’t offend him. He sees you, his daughter, and wants to hear from you.

5. Feed your soul with music.

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear. Oh, be careful little ears what you hear. There was a reason that Vacation Bible School song was so popular back in the day. What we pour into our ear-gate matters. It breeds hope, optimism, faith, and love—or quite the opposite. Take some time to fill your heart with the beauty of worship music, and just soak it in. Get a few minutes alone in the car or in the bathroom, away from the kids and the demands on your time, and just soak in the words of life-giving songs that teach you who your Savior is and remind you of his love for you.

Photo Credit: © Pexels/Samuel Silitonga

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hand releasing butterfly renewal healing, how to find relief when hurting

6. Take the time to heal.

Taking time is being patient—something many of us struggle with. We want instant gratification, instant fixes, and instant healing, but the hurt we’ve experienced often takes time to heal. Don’t self-medicate with a counterfeit that only leaves you empty. Counterfeits come in many shapes and forms. A romantic interest too soon after a break-up. Overspending when you’re already in debt. Substances. Chasing the corporate dream for validation. It will all leave us empty. The only true healing comes from an encounter with the Great Physician who knew you before you were born.

7. Create a gratitude list.

Sure, you’re likely not in the most grateful of spirits when the weight of the world beats down, but taking the time to list the things the Lord has given, the miracles he’s performed, and the examples of faithfulness in your life will give you time to reflect. It will begin to fill slowly shift perspective that the God who delivered you before will do it again.

8. Take time to grieve.

The loss of a relationship, death, or even the death of a dream you once had require a grieving season. Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us that there is a time for everything under the sun. This may be a time of grieving for you. Take the time to mourn the loss of what once was. You don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen or that it was “nothing.” It was something and it hurt. The appropriate time of grieving will allow you the tools necessary to move into your time of dancing.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/fcscafeine

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9. Choose 1-2 favorite Scriptures and write them everywhere.

What gives you hope? What inspires you? What Scriptures did you memorize as a little girl that bring back child-like faith? Write those Scriptures down on index cards and put them on your fridge, in your purse, on your steering wheel, on your bathroom mirror, everywhere. The more you feed on God’s word, the stronger you will feel.

10. Get quiet and still.

This will seem like a contradiction to #2, but it isn’t. It isn’t isolation. Getting quiet and still before the Lord is done with intention to seek the creator and lover of your soul. You need fresh wind and an encounter. There is power in the presence. Put down the cell phone. Turn off the television and listen.

11. Get off social media.

I love reconnecting with old friends and ministry partners, and finding new friends. I love a good meme just as much as the next guy. However, the mindless scrolling through hours of media, senselessly comparing our lives to that of complete strangers has to stop. The absorption of 24-hour news coverage and the bombardment of everything that is wrong with the world does not give us life more abundantly. It robs our joy. Lay down social media for a season, until you can feel the weight begin to lift. 

And Nehemiah continued, ‘Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!’” (Nehemiah 8:10 NLT)

Photo Credit: © Unsplash

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others. 

Originally published Wednesday, 02 September 2020.