Holy in the Daily

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What to Do When Your Life is Messed Up {Thursday Therapy}

I hate it when my life is messed up. Kids. Work. Spouse. Finances. Cancer. Grief. At some point in my journey, each of these has messed up the perfect life I had planned for myself. And I didn’t like it. Neither do you.

The biggest obstacle keeping you from living a full life is the picture in your head of how things are supposed to be. You’re stuck. Trapped in the frame of a faulty picture.

  • The wedding rocked. The baby is beautiful. Your husband’s affair blindsided you—not how things are supposed to be.
  • Your daughter has a drug addiction. And has a baby. Now you’re raising your grandchild because Mom is in a rehab center—not how things are supposed to be.
  • You lost your job. Bills are piling up. You feel like you’re sinking—not how things are supposed to be.
  • Your child is 30. Still unmarried. Doesn’t even want to have kids if she does marry. No grandchildren in your future—not how things are supposed to be.
  • You pictured travel during retirement. Gardening. Fishing. Finances haven’t provided retirement—not how things are supposed to be.

All of us get stuck in some kind of unrealistic picture in our head at some point in life. Some can’t climb out of the picture frame.

What to do when life is messed up

  • Acknowledge that the picture in your head is faulty. Simply because it isn’t reality.
  • Pour your pain, anger, worries, frustrations, fears, and complaints out to God (see Psalm 142:1-7). Be real. Don’t think you have to be polite. Let it rip. God can handle it.
  • Leave the unfulfilled dreams with Jesus. He’ll know what to do with them. He’s better at this sort of thing than you are. He’s raised more kids than you have. He’s rescued more people than you ever will. He knows how to provide better than you do. Let Jesus do his job. Get out of his way. Really.
  • Now. Get God’s perspective on your situation (see Jeremiah 29:11). He has plans for you. They obviously aren’t what you had planned. They’re better plans. Because God planned them. Find out what they are.
  • Ask God to open doors you didn’t know were there. Look for opportunities to serve, laugh, and celebrate the life you do have. Somewhere in the midst of living purposefully you’ll hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Walk in it” (see Isaiah 30:21).
  • Finally, do this today: Do one small thing that serves others. Do one simple self-care activity. Do one thing to that connects you with God. Rinse and repeat—daily.

And yes, I know I touched on this last week in Get Real About Fairytale Endings: Tinkerbell Has to Die. I’m spinning it a little differently so the message will connect. It’s a tactic of counseling. *evil grin*

Let me know if the tactic worked. And have a great weekend,


“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.

Related posts:

Dancing In the Midst of Difficulty 

Why Do Bad Things Happen? Walking In the Midst of Ugly

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Daniella

    This is so good. I loved the post about killing Tinkerbell, too, but this one… yeah.

    I used to read Jer. 29:11 and thought it said that God would make all my dreams come true (you know, bippity-boppity-boo…) but you nailed it right on the head: “They obviously aren’t what you had planned. They’re better plans. Because God planned them.”

    Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself staying home with a bunch of kids in the middle of the desert. Nope, not once. And yet…I’m EXACTLY where He wanted me to be, and it’s amazing how wonderful it has been. Thanks for the reminder! (And boy, you sure passed on that *evil grin* to your daughter and granddaughters…)


    1. Susan Gaddis

      Bippity-boppity-boo… yep, I can relate. So glad to know you’re not superwoman, Dani. You are one awesome lady. I love your realness and, yes, I think you are right in the center of his plan. Thanks for the encouragement. And yes, I know, the evil grin has been passed down to the next generation. Done my duty there. Yep.

  2. cindy king

    if you could hear me i am loudly going AMEN SISTER AMEN , when my my version of what i want gets messed up and about the time i feel like i need to lay on a couch in front of one of those people , its the worship that saves me being in his presence , crying to him , of course the why now or why at all comes out , then i have to remember hes gotten me out of worse with a better plan then mine and there is a saying , we value the light more fully after we’ve come through the darkness .thanks cindy k

    1. Susan Gaddis

      True, Cindy, true. I appreciate your note on how we value the light more fully after we’ve come through the darkness. That’s what keeps us moving forward, right? Blessings to you! 🙂

  3. Debby Daman

    Hi Susan,
    Appreciate your comments so much! I am fighting cancer yet again & continuing to have infusions every 3 weeks. Doctors say there is “no cure” and I am in remission. This was NOT something we had planned! Thanks for helping me to see Jesus’ reflection in my mirror instead of me. We can be so selfish. Psalm 142 in the NLT is a great call to be real with the Lord! Thanks for that reminder too. When I am tempted to be too passive or not wait and be still to listen and hear God, reading His Words of Life are such a balance!I will continue to fight the good fight of faith and remember He has a future and a hope for me!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      What a story of truth you are, Debby. Your legacy is more in how you are handling your current situation than in any ministry you’ve walked in. This is what people will look to when they have to walk through the valley of death’s shadow. You’ve taught how to live well, and now you’re teaching how to suffer in the light of His glory. That’s more real in the courts of Heaven than you realize. I look forward to someday sitting down at a little cafe’ on Journey St. in the New Jerusalem with you and hearing all your story. Even the parts that are scary now. Those will be the parts that shine the most.

      You’re not done yet, girl! I’m praying for you. Honor and glory to the One who walks your journey with you.
      Bless you. (And I’ll buy the coffee.)

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