Today we welcome back Jaime Hlavin back to the blog. She hits on a subject all of us can relate to . . . leading while at the same time facing personal pain. Enjoy this powerful post ~ John.
Everyone can relate to the old adage “when it rains, it pours.” Our family is currently in the midst of a very rainy season. A storm cloud seems to have settled over us and we are relying on the wisdom of the Lord as well as the support of one another to navigate it.
My oldest daughter is recovering from a lumbar discectomy to repair a herniated disc at her L5/S1. She’s been in pain for quite some time, so getting this surgery on the schedule was of utmost importance and it looks like it has resulted in some good results. However, helping a nearly 18-year-old young woman recover from spinal surgery is not for the faint of heart.
As we were preparing for her procedure, we learned some bad news. After experiencing a brief respite from a year-long battle with cancer, my mother-in-law began suffering from some abdominal pain. Further testing showed a tumor in her pancreas. We are currently awaiting additional information to determine next steps. But in the meantime, she is very weak and in considerable discomfort.
In the midst of that, my father-in-law received concerning results from a routine test and required a significant and life-altering surgery. He is currently home recovering from that procedure. My family and my husband’s brother’s family are taking turns checking in on and caring for the both of them. We are tired, sad, and overwhelmed. We’re in a bit of a downpour right now.
Have you ever stepped out onto your back porch in the middle of a rain storm, and as the rain pelts you, there’s some sun peeking through those clouds creating a rainbow? In the midst of this pummeling rain, we see little rainbows. We are excited, proud, and happy as our oldest daughter will recover fully just in time to enjoy her high school graduation and all that entails. We will then begin a summer of camps and events. Also, we will begin to prepare to send a child away to college and another into her first year of high school!
When, as leaders, we experience rainy seasons, what can we do to get through these times? We’re definitely learning the following lessons in real time:
Ask for help to lighten the load
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to impose. However, when we ask for help, the burden is lighter. This also prevents resentment from setting in among family members (I’m speaking from personal experience unrelated to this particular situation as well as from years of ministry). Furthermore, Galatians 6:2 instructs us as believers to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” If someone offers help, take them up on it! You won’t regret it—you’ll find that people want to help.
In the middle of this rainstorm, we had to go out of town for a ministry event. The young lady who dog sits for us requested that we not pay her this time because she just wanted to bless us. I tried to refuse, but she literally begged me to let her do that for us. People truly want to bless you.
Find a safe person to confide in
During times like this, it is often common for everyone to expect regular updates to your situation. Don’t feel obligated to do that. Choose to share what you feel comfortable sharing. However, be sure you have one or two safe people you can really pour your heart out to—either to just listen or offer sound counsel. Your emotions will start to build up like a shaken soda bottle . . . you don’t want to explode. Finding someone to help ease that pressure will be beneficial.
Make time for spiritual growth
Do not neglect your quiet time with the Lord. You will need it more than ever. Make it a non-negotiable in your schedule. Spend time in worship, prayer, and the Word.
Be sure to relax when you can. At Converge, we talk a lot about the importance of rest. Exhaustion can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. The weight of the load you are bearing will be tiring enough on its own, don’t add to it by neglecting adequate rest.
Fully experience the rain and the rainbow
Our lives will often be equal parts good and bad. I’ve mentioned this before—my husband would often make an analogy in his sermons. Our lives are like railroad tracks: one side of the track is the good and the other side of the track is the bad. We are the train—we are in touch with both sides of the track at all times, it just depends on the bend in the road and which side we lean into. It’s okay to be in touch with the good stuff while the bad is happening. In fact, it’s vital to stay in touch with the good. We have a hope to connect to.
“Hope fills the afflicted soul with such inward joy and consolation, that it can laugh while tears are in the eye, sigh and sing all in a breath; it is called ‘the rejoicing of hope.’” ~ William Gurnall
It is inevitable that at some time in our lives as leaders, we will have to lead through our own personal pain. Doing so is not impossible and can be done in a healthy manner. If you’re currently leading in a time of personal or family difficulty, know that we are rooting and praying for you! And we are here for you if you need a safe person to talk to.
Cheering for you,