3 Struggles I’m facing in the New Year (and how I’m hoping to overcome them)

(Warning: this post contains brute honesty. So if you’re opposed to that stuff, you might want to stop reading now.)

I’m struggling.

It’s this whole New Year thing.   I can hardly tolerate the insane amount of posts about productivity, health and wellness, and lifestyle change every where I look.  It’s as if the whole of cyberspace is involved in this great conspiracy: to make me feel terrible about myself. 

photo courtesy of sxc.hu @ rockpuppet

photo courtesy of sxc.hu @ rockpuppet

Every Facebook post, catchy twitter tagline, talk show segment and email campaign seems to be assaulting me, personally.  And truthfully, I just want to climb in my cozy bed under the covers with the fireplace on and eat something other than 0% fat Greek frozen yogurt to soothe this ever increasing feeling of inadequacy.

True Confessions of 2014: The scale reads 15 pounds heavier than at the last New Year, I never finished my Bible read thru in a year, I didn’t finish writing my book, I didn’t write as many blog posts as I should have, I didn’t have as many speaking engagements as I wanted.  And, to top it off, I have an awful feeling of envy when I look at the accomplishments of many folks who I love dearly and call friends.  (and perfect strangers, let’s not leave them out.)

Ugh.

Maybe it’s all just too much for you, too?  Maybe there’s seemingly insurmountable mountains you don’t want to climb? And the whole world is ticking you off with their resolutions?

Yet, today – a full week (more if you count the pre-New Year’s hype) into this suffocating deluge of positivity and calls for change –  I realize the only way to combat my desire for inaction is to take action.

It’s not coming easily. 

But I know I must face the tall task of not shutting down, shutting out or shutting up.  So, as part of my action plan, and to right this sinking ship called my psyche, I identified my core struggles, and tried to discern how I might begin 2015 by digging out instead of sinking deeper.

Struggle 1: Grieving

Just days before Christmas, we lost our precious 4 y/o puppy, Millie, tragically, to a coyote attack.  The trauma alone was quite overwhelming considering what we witnessed.  Not to mention the pure feeling of loss.  She was such an integral part of our daily life; everywhere I went she followed me, every time I left or came home she was right there by the back door, each morning and night we let her out, made sure she was fed.  She rode in the car, she hiked in the mountains, she slept on the foot of the bed.

It’s a funny thing this pet grief thing.  You don’t fully realize how ever-present they are in your life and until they’re gone.

Now all my people have returned to school and work after 2+ weeks of vacation and the chaos of the holidays, I’m left here alone in the empty house to do my work…minus my trusted companion.  And it’s just plain sad.

I’ve also discovered I’m grieving 2014 – specifically the goals that went unaccomplished.

Combatting grief of any kind isn’t easy.  Anyone who’s been there knows.

To overcome this struggle I need to:  give myself permission. 

To be sad.  To feel remorse.  To long for what I don’t have anymore.  To take time and do nothing and be ok with it. To be still. And Know.

It’s part of the process.  And there’s not an easy way to hurry that up.  You just have to walk through it.

One step at a time. And I’m trying to  “take every thought captive” when I’m heading down a dead-end road.

Struggle 2: Feeling Inadequate

Some days I am plagued by the “serpent of comparison.”  And he has a way of slithering in and stealing what’s good and lovely and pure, and replacing it with envy.  And when I’m envious, I begin to feel inadequate.  It’s a very simple equation really.  Envy=Inadequacy.

I look around and see many of my stay-at-home mom friends going back into traditional corporate work settings.  I look around and see many of my peers publishing books, racking up huge social media followings, speaking on national stages.  I look around and see people with better prayer lives and deeper faith.

And so when I focus on what I’m NOT, I am instantly focusing on what others ARE.  As if that’s the answer to everything.

Most of us have been taught on some level that we are to love ourselves.  And that we are uniquely made, not to be carbon-copies of others.  I teach that to audiences myself.  So I beat myself up even more: why do you not practice what you preach?

To overcome this struggle I need to: stop comparing, and focus on me and God. 

What has God created me to do?  What gifts has he given me to accomplish those things?  What blessings can I cherish?  What does HE have for my future?  What would give him pleasure and make him burst with pride?  (something tells me a ginormous amount of facebook likes on my page isn’t on his list)

I need to focus on His plans, not the things he’s working out through others.  That’s their job, I have my own.  Oh yeah, taking every thought captive helps here too.

Struggle 3:  Being Honest with myself and others

This is a hard post to write.

My 13 y/o daughter has taken to quipping the popular self-help phrase, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.”  Even thinking of her saying it right now has me smiling.

But it’s true.  Making myself sit at this computer the better part of the day and get my feelings and struggles in print has been more helpful than just about anything else I could do right now.

Because to write it means I have to face it, and to share it means I have to address it.  That or risk being called out when I’m still sitting in my room a week from now in my pjs with empty ice cream containers at my feet.

To overcome this struggle I need to: share my woes out loud and come up with some solutions. 

It’s interesting that I feel so much better after sitting at my computer for 4 hours today than I did this morning.  Thanks for helping me out, by being out there in cyberspace somewhere, reading this, it helps me to press on, and take action.

If you’re facing any of your own struggles, I hope you will let someone else in.  Even if it’s not the whole world…

Question: Are you facing struggles this New Year? (remember admitting we have a problem is the first step!) How are you overcoming? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Sarah Beckman inspires people from the stage and on the page. She is the bestselling author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which is filled with practical tools to love people well in the rough patches of life. Sarah speaks to audiences across the country on topics such as loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “3 Struggles I’m facing in the New Year (and how I’m hoping to overcome them)

  1. Thank you Sarah! I needed to hear everything you put in this blog post. I have many regrets about last year, and can’t seem to get out of my own way to make changes in my life. I will have to say that I am a little nervous about facing these issues, because I know when I do I will be in a puddle of tears for awhile, which actually scares me more than anything else (I REALLY don’t like to cry, especially the ugly cry!). With that said I also now that I need to sit in that puddle for a while, so that I can move beyond it. I agree that facing my struggles is the only way I am going to get past them. The good thing is that I don’t have to face them alone. I need to remember that God will always be there to hold my hand, and He will bring me out of the mire and muck if I give him the opportunity. Thank you for your sharing the words of your heart with all of us!

    • Lynn, I will be praying that God would minister to you tenderly as you draw close to him. He is the ultimate comforter, and he is waiting for you to come to him. As he knows already all the struggles you have! God bless you – press in and press on!

  2. Thank you for your honesty, Sarah….I can assure you that MANY others, myself included, are feeling ALL of those same things. This does not diminish the reality of our struggles but facing them in good company, and with the strength of our Savior, helps immeasurably. You sure encouraged this girl today. Happy New Year to you and your family. Love, Kris

  3. Well done Sarah…..this was a difficult post for you and I am proud of you for taking the time and courage to write it. Like you mentioned…there can be healing when a hurt is exposed and brought into the light. May God hold you tightly as you grieve the loss of your sweet little puppy. I’m so sorry….Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted by presence of the Prince of Peace himself!!! You are not alone!

    I also had a difficult 2014 and did not accomplish all that I had planned…..but together we can choose to live out Isaiah 43 this year…..forgetting the former things and not dwelling on the past. Let us look with hope into 2015 for the new thing that God is doing! The best is yet to come! Happy New Year sister in Christ!

    Krista from Minnesota

    • Krista, It is a very humbling experience. I found myself continually checking my pride as I typed, deleted, re-wrote. God is good all the time and your words are encouraging to me. Isaiah 43 it is!
      “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
      I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
      2 When you pass through the waters,
      I will be with you;
      and when you pass through the rivers,
      they will not sweep over you.
      When you walk through the fire,
      you will not be burned;
      the flames will not set you ablaze.”
      AMEN friend! thanks for you!

  4. Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!
    For expressing so wonderfully what I and many others actually feel. If my ultimate destiny is Holiness, I need to ask the practical questions you pose..
    “What has God created me to do? What gifts has he given me to accomplish those things? What blessings can I cherish? What does HE have for my future? What would give him pleasure and make him burst with pride?
    Your struggle with brute honesty helped give wings to the thoughts rambling in my head and a direction to point myself in.
    For that I thank you my friend! <3
    S. from MN

    • Stephanie, these are the questions we should be asking when we get to the dark place of being stuck. part of taking every thought captive. I have to practice this regularly to combat the comparison. Sometimes it’s easier than others! You are a huge blessing to me…and I’m so grateful you posted today. such an encouragement!

  5. Hi Sarah, wonderfully honest blog post. Struggle #2 is such an easy trap to fall into and I adopted a motto several years ago that helps remind me to be at peace with who I am and what I have and have-not. The motto is this “Contentment is destroyed by Comparison”. We all need to stop comparing ourselves with others and just celebrate the joys & accomplishment of others.
    Thanks again for your encouraging posts. We miss you in MN!!
    ~ Vicki

    • Vicki,
      What an awesome way to help me “take the thought captive” and I’m so grateful to have that! I think you’re amazing and the Church Ladies did so much to help me heal when I was in your study. I miss you too, but wow, was it great to have a great part of your family in Haiti with me last summer. Love those peeps! love you! God bless and thanks for sharing. Very helpful.

  6. Thank you for this. Struggle 2 hits home. I think social media feeds the enemy in so many ways. “Likes” from one post to another. How can we not think we are less worthy than another. The selfies, “like” comparison numbers, self-promoting. It can make a person feel inadequate with ease. Focusing on who we are in Christ and not who the ‘popular’ are on social media is probably step one. We are becoming very in self-focused even when we preach being ‘others’ focused. “Look at me!” “Look at what I’m doing for the 10th time today.” LOL! Oh, if we didn’t laugh sometimes. Thank you for your honesty, sometimes I feel like the only one struggling.

    • Tammy,
      I appreciate your insights and your take on this…so valuable to remember the popularity on social media has nothing to do with our worth in Christ. Thank you for standing with me in this sometimes difficult and lonely place.

  7. Thank you Sarah! I thought I was alone in overwhelm of the deluge of posts about planning to be “new and improved” in the new year. The problem is that I also contribute to them. How do you filter the messages so you continue to learn but don’t feel “less than”?

    • Linda,
      Thanks for stopping by. It’s nice to know we’re not alone, huh? I love your thoughtful and challenging question. I believe being transparent in our faults as well as our successes helps some as we strive not to be the problem for others but to be genuine. I found that startlingly true in this post – people resonated with the struggles so much. As far as filtering the messages so they don’t bring me down… HARD! But I guess I try to have specific scriptures or phrases I repeat in my mind that help me – for example I have really clung to this phrase from a friend “Non Multa,Sed Bono” which is Latin for, Not Many, But Good. When I get myself worked up about numbers (attendees, readers, shares, etc) I have to remember this phrase. God is in charge ultimately, not the random social share or quantifiable world we live in. And even if we aren’t affecting “many” as long as it’s good I need to rest (and TRUST) in that. Many other scriptures help me too, and one I love to recite in my mind before speaking is Romans 15:13. Check it out! Blessed by this conversation. Thanks for the insights. (oh, and staying on social media less is helping me – trying to limit my time and purpose for being there)

  8. Hi Sarah! It is now January 2017, a few years down the line for me from your post. I had to chuckle at your 15 pounds more b/c I am 15 pounds less thanks to physiological responses to life’s events. Our bodies are not often fooled, are they? My major struggles for the new year are: Surrendering, Trusting, and Yielding to Christ that I might find peace, joy and LOVE in Him as I meet almost daily with the heart wrenching trials that can often accompany raising teenagers. I am already looking forward to 2018 that I may look back to see how God pulled me through 2017:-)

    • Carrie, you are right, our bodies know. And so does our God. I will pray for you – believing with you for His provision and grace through each day. That you may look back and recognize the faithfulness. God be with you!

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