It has been two years since my mama died. I think about her every single day and often dream about her. It is hard to experience any death, and especially the death of a mama who loved you as best as she could, a mama you always thought would be there, even though you knew in your head she might not be. When we slowly lowered her into her grave and threw the first clump of dirt upon her coffin, part of me died too. She alone knew things about me that no one else knew, things I will never know. Since my birth, her memories of me go farther back than I am capable of remembering. How do I navigate life without her?
There are lots of situations in life wherein we feel lost. What are we to do? How do we survive?
The following are three things I do when I feel lost or am at a loss.
Pray and Meditate on Scripture and God’s Faithfulness to You
Praying may sound like the obvious thing to do immediately, but we do not always turn to God in prayer, at least at first. We might try to figure things out by ourselves, turn to the internet or advice columns (some consult mediums or their astrological sign), or try to numb ourselves in a million different ways. When I do not know what to do or where to turn, I pray Scripture right back to the Lord. I “remind” Him of what He has told us and promised us.
For example, Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (NIV). I cry out, “Lord, in Isaiah 30:21, you promised to give us direction, and in James 1:5 you tell us, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (NIV). Please, Lord, direct me and give me wisdom.” Then, I recall all the times God has been faithful to me in the past, all the times God has come through. That gives me hope that He will continue to be faithful and come through for me!
Phone a Friend and/or a Wise Person
We do not live the Christian life alone, nor are we to carry our burdens by ourselves. But sometimes we fear that sharing our situation or discouragement will lead to accusations of unbelief or make us, for whatever reason, look bad. In that situation, we can remind ourselves of Jesus Himself. Jesus always had friends surrounding Him. When He was troubled, on what I call “The Worst Night of His Life,” in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples turned friends Peter, James, and John to be with him when he felt all alone (Mark 13:32-42). He needed the company of his friends, the warmth of their presence. He needed them as the darkness of what was about to happen descended upon Him. We, too, need the company of friends and even trustworthy, wise people. We need them to accompany us and pray for us in joy, sorrow, or bewilderment. We need to contact them, to tell them what is going on with us.
Do the Next Thing
As we are waiting on God and sharing our burdens with our friends and wise people, navigating the situation in a safe, Christian community, we do the next thing in front of us. For some people, waking up is the next thing. Sometimes it is so bad that many of us are tempted to stay in bed and not face the coming day. While it is okay to take such breaks sometimes, we cannot opt out of life. In fact, doing the next thing before us and focusing on it instead of worrying about the situation is healthiest. So do whatever God gives you to do, today.
These instructions are not formulaic. I do them all at once, sometimes several times a day while feeling lost. I do them as needed (as well as other things like getting out in nature). God is faithful. We may be lost, but God is not. He loves us and is tending to us. God is holding on to us. He will show us the way to go. Indeed, we will experience His faithfulness and direction while navigating the land of the living. We can be sure of that!
Marlena Graves is an author, writer, professor, preacher, and speaker on spiritual formation and justice, especially in areas of racism and immigration in the U.S.
Her books include The Way Up is Down, Who is My Neighbor, A Beautiful Disaster, and 40 Days of Being a Nine: Enneagram Daily Reflections. Marlena is an assistant professor of spiritual formation at Northeastern Seminary on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan University. She is a member of Ink: A Creative Collective and lives in the Rochester, NY area with her husband and three daughters. Learn more about Marlena at marlenagraves.com.