As we journey through life, there are a lot of moments when we feel down. These feelings or situations often caused by the trials, mishaps, sufferings, or failed hopes that we had put in a person, a relationship, or whatever is going on around us. It is easy for us to give up hope, to fill the void, or to do something to numb the pain that presented itself. Many people found themselves in very bad situations or dark places, made poor choices and detrimental decisions because they quickly reacted to what was going on at the time. I would like to give some basic spiritual suggestions that one can perhaps put into practice as to stabilize the spiritual negativity and seek some further guidance.
- We are not alone.
In times of trials and hardships, the Devil and his minions like to fill us with negativities and despairs, making us feel that we are all alone and abandoned. He wants us to feel that the whole world is against us and no one cares about us by intensifying the negative and hurtful feelings that we have. He manipulates and plays with our emotions and feelings by fanning, fueling, and feeding on the pains. At those moments, it is important to know that we are not alone. Even if we think that everyone we know is against us or has abandoned us, God will never abandon us. The Saints and deceased loved ones are always with us, interceding and praying for us. We believe in the communion of saints, and at trying moments, we are called to trust in our faith, knowing that we are never truly alone.
- Find time slow down and pray.
Hence, we can then admit that we had not always been faithful and fully opened to prayer, praying as we are able, genuinely and wholeheartedly. The Devil and his minions will tell us to simply abandon or give up on everything that we have known, yet these are the moments that we have to seek transcendental things and supernatural matters. When human relationships failed and our natural senses and abilities come short, we need to try to slow things down trying to fix things our ways — right away — and learn to pray. I know, it is hard! While we are naturally programmed to reject, eject, or do whatever necessary to isolate and remove the things that hurt us, we have to learn to be patient in discerning what is necessary and important with the things that are needed when times are trying. It is important to slow down to think, to breathe, to grief, to accept, especially to reflect, look at the bigger picture, and to pray with what is going on.
- Call out to the Lord and the Saints for help.
Do not be afraid to call on God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — to give us strength! Ask the Blessed Mother and the Saints, especially our patronal or go-to holy people, to pray and intercede for us. One of the greatest pieces of advice that I had received from an older (and wise) priest is to not be afraid to come to the Lord regularly. He said, “Many times, only He can understand what we have to say or what we cannot say, so do not be afraid to laugh, to cry, to yell, or to simply sit and waste time with Him.” I have done a lot of that in my own life as a priest! There were times that I really cannot formulate the words that need to be said since my heart was filled with many hurts and doubts — many pains, yet I can always come to the Lord to be with Him. There were times that I was frustrated at Him. There were times that I questioned and doubted His timing. Yet, every time, I can always come to Him to pour my heart out. I also learned to pray to the Saints that I cherish and look up to, recalling how they themselves went through similar or worst situations than I am, yet they still believe, trust, and confide in God’s loving fidelity. I come to them, asking them to pray for me a lot, that if I am being led into a trial, may the love of God and their intercessions keep me safe until it is the right time to bring me out of it.
- What are some instances that we can recall of God’s loving fidelity in the past (as to affirm His faithful presence now)?
I have learned to spend the time to look back at my own life to see how God’s love has been constant throughout each and every trial. As I engage in retrospective reflection and prayer, I can see clearly that it was the grace of God that led me through life’s toughest trials, when I thought I could not make it through on my own. If this same God has been faithful to me in the past, He will not abandon me now as He remains faithful with me throughout my present one! If I know that He is here and that my fears, reservations, or humanity is blinding me from seeing Him as He is, I learn — little by little — to trust in my faith to guide me back to Him with personal hope. I also learned to reflect, analyze, and try to look at what is really happening now (beyond the apparent problem). It will be hard to be focused, to go beyond what is painful, to see things as they are outside of our present blindspots. Nevertheless, we are invited to be patient, to continue to relate what is going on with how the work of grace was shown in the past as to connect the dots and see the opportunity or lesson that is presenting itself to us now.
- Practice a genuine act of love by the giving of yourself outside of what is holding you back right now.
It is very easy for us to isolate ourselves when we are in pain! We want to remove ourselves from everyone, yet, remember what I said a little bit earlier? It is important to go beyond what our protective “self-preservation” tendencies want to lead us. Instead of allowing ourselves to go to the two extremes of either blaming or pitying ourselves with what had happened, we are called to not lose our real humanity and its genuine gifts of loving care. It is important not to forget who we are and what makes us humans, especially the genuine gifts of ourselves through kindness! In hard times, it is so easy to be paranoid, doubt, and begin to question people’s goodness as we move away from substantial and life-giving human relationships. Just because someone or some situation caused us pain, it does not mean that everyone is out to get us. When we get hurt, the temptation to withdraw and isolation become more appealing and real, and that is when we have to keep ourselves honest and in check with the people that we trust and continue on with what we are called to do in love. Do not be afraid to smile, greet, give an act of kindness and care to those who are around you! Let us challenge ourselves to continue to give and love even though we are still dealing with some painful areas, people, or situations, for the false sense of self-preservation and isolation will cause more harms to those who are allowing darkness to envelop and pains to control them. It is hard to explain fully in words, but trust me, by being human in practicing care and giving love, our humanity is preserved, nourished, and strengthened in the midst of trying times.
- Do not make any rash decisions to seek immediate gratification, comfort, or self-medication.
When we feel down, abandoned, hurt, suffering, or in pain, we want to forget, ignore, or numb the feelings, emotions, or what had happened by filling them with a self-medicated solution, substance, option, or decision. These rash or imprudent decisions are not effective nor proper in times of spiritual, emotional, sentimental, or psychological desolation. They always tend to bring greater pains and regrets after the fact! Some of them take a long time to heal or overcome even though they were just some quick or unthoughtful decisions. The saints are very consistent in saying that we should never make any life-changing or big decisions at times when we are desolated! Contrary to what is natural or humanistically tempting to do, keep focused being on course with what you and I were doing before the event, trial, suffering, or painful experience happened. Do not make any quick, rash, or unwise decisions until we are able to speak, listen, reflect, pray, and discern it well with someone who can see the bigger reality than us. In trying times, it is helpful to seek spiritual guidance by turning to a person that we trust, someone who is wise, a priest or religious that can reflect and discern things according to God’s greater plan and will for us.
You are not alone! Even at your darkest times and hardest trials, God will never abandon you and the Saints will always be with you. I know that even though the members of the Church are not always perfect since we have many different personalities, you can and should always turn to the community of faith and spiritual family for help! We are never meant to be or walk this journey alone. We were given to each other and called together in faith as the Church so we can help and walk alongside each other. Please allow your spiritual family to journey with you, the Saints to interceded and pray for you, and the Lord’s presence to shine upon you.
The sun will always shine after the stormy rain. While it is hard to endure the trials and pains while we are in the midst of the storm, we have to turn to the assurances of faith in hope knowing that we are not alone. That is why it is important to build better foundations and anchors in normal times so we have something to ground ourselves and to hold on to in hard times. The winds and storms of life will always try to carry us far away from God and His everlasting and faithful love, that is why it is important for us to build foundations that are firm and grounded in the Lord. While we might lose hope and question God’s goodness in the midst of the dark times and stormy trials, we know that the true Sun of Justice and Light of Life always shine. The clouds and storms will pass! Even though we want them to pass right away and in our liking, we know that God permits all things — even the trials, pains, and sufferings — for our goods if we truly believe and trust in His divine providence and faithful love. Let us not give up hope but to persevere and stand strong in the midst of life’s storms and trials.
May the Lord be with you.