dark clouds of depressionFaith

How to live when the clouds just won’t move

It’s not easy maintaining a positive attitude when dark clouds seemed stalled over our heads because there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in our lives.  While there is a break in the clouds on occasion, mostly it’s overcast. God seems to have spread a gray sheet between Him and us. 

Would you agree we all have days like that? Sometimes a number of them in a row.  We’re not clinically depressed. We don’t need medication.  We don’t need therapy. We just need a break from our unrelenting cloud-shrouded life.  

I find when I’m under grey clouds it helps to remember the transient nature of clouds.  Even today as I write, the sky overhead can’t seem to make up its mind.  Will the clouds be given permission to part so the sun can shine through or will they remain huddled together in a solid mass?  

I find I respond two ways to the dark clouds. If I’m already having a “reflecting” kind of day, I might actually prefer clouds. If I’ve planned a day to stay inside and pursue a creative project, I kind of like gray days.  I think you know what I mean. There’s something that appeals to us when the sky matches our mood. 

It’s like friends. 

When we’re in the dumps we usually seek friends we know will try to match our moods in their manner of speech, and choice of words. We don’t need them to act depressed, of course, but we don’t want someone who acts too cheerful either. It feels cold and insensitive.

Sometimes a pep talk is needed but not in a “rah, rah” cheerleader fashion.  I try to make sure I act appropriately as well when I’m the one listening. Something I experienced a few years ago brought that home to me.  

 I was in a meeting at church and I mentioned how fortunate I felt when compared to the rest of the world. One individual, (I learned this later) misconstrued what I said and felt I was saying I was better than other people. I meant my remarks exactly as I spoke them. I guess it’s all how you look at things, glass half-empty or glass half full.

I wasn’t aware that this person was struggling with some serious issues at the time. To someone who wasn’t feeling very blessed himself, my remarks must have felt like cold water splashed in his face. While I would say the same thing again I would be careful to explain what I meant. 

I try to remember that while my clouds have moved for the time being, someone else’s clouds have just shown up. I wished he could have seen my past and the clouds that once hovered over me as well or the clouds that are hovering now. But even with the clouds I really did feel blessed. Undeservedly blessed.

But if I’m feeling really down, I don’t want the gray clouds; I want the sun. I want something to interrupt my mood and cheer me up. On those days, I remind myself that clouds, by their very nature eventually move. (Of course, if you live in Michigan as I do, you might have to wait weeks, not days.)

I keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually the sun/Son does break through.  My mood gets better. I see things more clearly. It’s just the unrelenting nature of life. 

Some days we have to look to the heavens and just wait for the sky to change.

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flowers in a jar filled halfway full/connecting the dots

CONNECTING THE DOTS OF YOUR DAY IS IMPORTANT

Connecting the dots helps you analyze your attitudes. Take a few minutes at the end of the day. Think through your day. How would you define your day, good, bad, or just so-so?

pink and red polka dot pattern artwork/connecting the dots
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

How do you label your days?

The thing about connecting your dots is that it really helps you analyze why you labeled your days the way you did. For example, did you label a day as good because everything went right or because you finally solved a big problem? Did you have a bad day because you worked hard all day on a project? Why would you label that as a bad day? What would be your criteria for a so-so day?

Ask some intentional questions

And then if you ask yourself some questions, like these below, it might help you decide why you label a day the way you do. For example, I have worked three days on the computer working on my book. I am exhausted. Some might label it a bad day because I was chained to the chair. But I thought it was a great day.

It was great because I was thoroughly engaged in what I was doing. I was constantly practicing the disciplines of faith. Yes, I felt frustrated and confused but I found myself constantly going back to the well and drinking living water. It was mind-boggling but if someone asked me if I had a good day, I would shout, “Yes”.

I refused to let my joy be swallowed up because I was tired or confused.

I know some people who, when I learn how they spent their day, I’m often surprised at how they label it. It’s that half-full, half-empty thing. But think about it. It’s the exact same amount in the container, isn’t it? It’s such a tired phrase but it’s really true. What WE THINK ABOUT determines how our days go.

Living intentionally

There are some days we have a “so-so” kind of a day. Nothing stellar but nothing bad either. We meander willy-nilly through our day. never deliberately choosing anything.  We let life just swallow us up. I prefer to go to bed knowing I was a little more intentional about what I did that day. That’s not to say I don’t have some willy-nilly days but I usually plan for them. And, yes, there are some days that are not planned. But most people, including me, do better with structured days.

Develop a plan

Tailor your questions for yourself. Maybe you could write out your questions and put them on your bed stand.  How about on your phone? Maybe they won’t even be questions.  Maybe a chart or just some bullet points. It’s just a way to track your day, to connect the dots of your actions and feelings.

  • Who did you spend time with?
  • How were your health habits today?
  • How often did you find yourself using negative words?  
  • Did you practice your faith’s disciplines?
  • Did you do something you really enjoyed?  (I beat my husband on “Words with Friends by 100 points and he never loses so I really enjoyed that.

It’s whatever works best for you. You might prefer just to take a minute or two and reflect. You might be a journaler. It’s a good thing to examine your life, not morbidly just reflectively so that tomorrow will be better than today. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Since I have been using my BUJO (Bullet Journal), I’ve really managed to come to the end of each day and feel really good about them, even days where I didn’t accomplish a lot anyone could see but I spent quality time in prayer and Bible study.

Labeling your days is revealing

Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with looking back over your day and then labeling it. Because those labels say something. If you’ve been labeling most of your days on the negative side, and nothing bad has been going on, you might want to ask why. And, believe it or not, if you’ve been labeling most of your days on the positive but a lot of negative things have been going on, you might also want to ask why? I say that because:

Aids in reflection

It’s just as .bad to be consistently “yay, yay” as it is to be “nay, nay” about life. There’s nothing wrong with saying you had a bad day or just a so-so day. That s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to just connect the dots of your day and be reflective about.

We don’t have to be rigid about this. We don’t have to do it every day. Start seeing the pattern, and the words you use

God bless and have a good day.

picture of a funny animal/making mistakes

A mistake corrected for this morning’s post

Making mistakes Boy, can I tell I’m am busy finishing up this book. You have heard me say this for months but it’s true. There have been edits on top of edits. But this time I’m really close to the finished line. I submit this edit I’m working on and then its submitted back to […]