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How to Help When You’re Feeling Helpless

Written by on June 7, 2020

Anyone who has flown in the last 50 years or so has heard the safety mantra for the oxygen masks that will fall from the ceiling if cabin pressure is lost: Secure your own mask before helping others around you. That is a great sentiment.

But in the upheaval of these anxious, unprecedented days, with lockdowns, losses, and logistics that change every daily routine, our parental “oxygen masks” seem stuck in the ceiling or darting around avoiding our grasp. When our families are counting on us, we can’t afford to get stuck feeling helpless. Here are some ways to get our hearts right so we can help our families adapt when we’re feeling helpless ourselves.

Embrace the change.

One of the greatest obstacles to moving ahead when our lives feel upended is fixating on the changes caused by circumstances beyond our control. The more unexpected the change, the harder it is to accept. At some point, we need to move beyond asking why or shaking our heads at how “unbelievable” it all is. When we decide to act on what is happening, no matter how painful, instead of focusing on what we think should be happening, or how life would have been if this hadn’t happened, we’re ready to help others adapt to the change.

Find (or re-find) your perspective.

How we view the world affects how we respond to what the world throws at us. Unexpected change sometimes distracts us from the truths we use to make sense of things. That’s when we need to go back to the basics, to help us process what we’re experiencing and to make good decisions. I’ve had to remind myself many times that I can and must trust God with my life. I make lots of plans, but God ultimately shapes and directs us. When life is perplexing, I can still move forward knowing He sees it all and ultimately remains in control of the full story.

Test positive.

Guiding others through difficult changes in our lives sometimes requires choosing to be positive, in spite of circumstances, in order to make that positivity contagious. We don’t want to spread viruses; we do want to spread hope. And sometimes the ones we encourage will turn around on an off day to be an encouragement to us.

Start plotting a new path.

Moving forward takes acceptance of change, a clear big picture perspective, and the hope of a positive mind. But it also requires thinking about the path forward. Take time to think through and discuss with your family what future steps ahead will need to be. And don’t forget to keep talking as you have to adjust and update your plans.

Even the best-laid plans meet unexpected troubles. That’s life. We are praying for your family as you face the unexpected trials in your story, that you’ll find the courage and hope to keep stepping forward.

How can we pray for you or your family today? Share in the comments below.


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