Win Today with Christopher Cook

Get Unstuck. Reclaim Your Purpose. Win Today.

How Do You Respond to an Absolutely Messy Life?

Setbacks, disappointment, unmet expectations, and even moments of personal crisis are unfortunately part of living in an imperfect world. While a fatalistic view of life sets the stage for hopelessness, equally detrimental is living in denial when bad things happen. In fact, deliberately avoiding pain and discomfort at any cost (which is motivated by internal fear) weakens your emotional, mental, and spiritual stability by disabling your ability to develop the skills necessary to cope with everyday life. And it’s that very fear motivation that drives you to approach life from a position of control and self-protection.

Allow me to speak from experience.

Wave after Wave

When I was eight years old, my parents divorced. While it was very amicable (they always honored each other publicly and in front of us kids, always prioritizing our well-being) I remember the feelings of vulnerability and fear about losing my very predictable young life. Shortly before my 12th birthday, my mom was diagnosed with incurable cancer.

Two years later, as a freshman at one of the top parochial high schools in the nation, I was bullied every day for three months. Fearful of further taunts, I pressed through my pain each morning by hiding out in the chapel before the first bell of the day. Several years later, as I was finishing college, my mom was in critical condition at home. And after six more years of unrelenting medical crises, she unexpectedly went home to be with the Lord—two weeks after my birthday.

My Shattered Snow Globe

Layer upon layer of chaos and each crack into my safe snow globe-like world reinforced to me the priority to grab hold of what remained and not let go (at any cost) for fear of more loss and unpredictability. It was self-protection at its finest. What is it for you? A dead-end job jockeyed by a dead-end boss? A fractured relationship on the verge of disrepair? Financial instability? A health crisis? The recent loss of a loved one?

In whatever trial you’re facing today, you can learn to implement “The Power of Reach”—which is reaching in, reaching out, and reaching deep—to find the strength to show up in an absolutely messy life, just like I did.

Reach In

How you cope in life is extremely important. Equally important, however, is understanding why you think, react, and act in the manner you do. Soul wounds and traumas from your past, buried deep in your subconscious, are responsible for creating the filters from which you respond to life both externally and internally.

Dr. Alexander Loyd, Ph.D., author of The Healing Code, refers to these memories as “Popsicle” memories. In his book, he describes the example of a five-year-old girl whose mom wouldn’t give her a Popsicle—a memory that spawned traumatic results for years. On the surface, that might not make much sense because the girl’s mother wasn’t abusive or violent—behaviors that would typically be associated with trauma. But perhaps you can relate to her experience:

“Mom gave my sister a Popsicle, but she wouldn’t give me a Popsicle. That must mean that she loves my sister more than me. If she loves my sister more than me, it must mean that there’s something wrong with me. So when I’m with other people, they’re not going to love me either, because they’re going to realize there’s something wrong with me.”

That memory and unhealthy belief became a growing, deep-seated sense of insignificance and inferiority that held her bound into her early adulthood.

“Reaching in” is essentially being willing to recognize and pursue healing for those broken places. By receiving healing for the deeper issues of your heart, you will hit the proverbial reset button on your life and in turn make decisions from a place of love instead of fear, wholeness instead of brokenness.

Reach Out

Life was never meant to be experienced alone. In moments of difficulty, isolation and introspection is a breeding ground for believed lies, condemnation, and anxiety, which lead to depression. Let your walls down and surround yourself with family and friends who will validate you, comfort you, challenge you, get in the trenches with you, and remind you of who you are, especially in low times.

Specifically, great relationships provide:

  1. A clear perspective. When we’re entrenched in pain, it’s easy to lose hope and the ability to see an end to your current situation.
  2. Courage to keep going. With a dynamic support system surrounding you, you’ll have the courage to endure.

Reach Deep

Undoubtedly, the most important component of “reach” occurs within the deepest part of your being: your spirit. People encounter major losses in their lives, and sadly, many never get over them because of a broken spirit caused by unresolved grief, fear, abuse, trauma, and failed relationships.

The significance of a broken spirit affects your life in such profound ways that Solomon, in Proverbs 17:22, said, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Later, in chapter 18, verse 14, he stated, “The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain or trouble, but a weak and broken spirit who can raise up or bear?” It’s no wonder that over 90% of all disease can be traced to roots in unmanaged, chronic stress.

But there is hope (and it’s not in your own effort). When your spirit is broken, the single-most important priority in your life should be scheduled time for resting and receiving the love and healing of the Holy Spirit through prayer, time in the Word, and worship. You see, sometimes we forget that the Holy Spirit is the source of our power and find ourselves in a place where our well-intentioned diligence has become striving. At other times, we forget and become overwhelmed by feelings of powerlessness in the midst of living life. Take a moment today to re-align and invite the Holy Spirit to empower you once again. His promise is sure:

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” – Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP)

When the Setback Becomes Your Bounce-Back

I wish I could promise you a three step, wash, rinse, and repeat solution known as “The Power of Reach.” You know, a turn-key solution to immediately making sense of the past, fixing the present, and fireproofing the future. But I can’t. Heck, I wish that for me. What I can tell you about “The Power of Reach,” however, is that when the mess pounds down your door one more time and the you-know-what hits the fan, you’ll be more equipped to show up, stay the course, and keep moving forward.

Let your setback be your bounce-back.

I believe in you.

  • I really appreciate your candor! Its refreshing to know others are human too… puts ones own life into perspective.

    • Thank you, sir! I was the king of self-protection. It was my knee-jerk reaction to pain and crisis. I appreciate your steady encouragement to my platform, Chuck!

  • Stacy Avery-Fredericks

    Thanks Chris this is a timely word for me right now.