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3 Ways To Be Brave As A Family During Difficult Times

Be Brave As A Family During Hard Times

"She's not having a good day."

This was the end of a recent Facebook update on my friend who is in the battle of her life with ovarian cancer.

The words sunk like a stone in my heart.

It's true that we have so many daily reminders of God's goodness. Changing leaves. Laughter at the dinner table. Snagging that empty parking spot Just. In. Time.

But then there's the other stuff. Cancer. Layoffs. Addiction. They remind me of how truly fragile and dangerous and--if I'm being honest--SCARY life can be. They remind me of how vulnerable we are.

Of course parenting intensifies this vulnerability in a way we parents never imagined. All the hard stuff becomes hard stuff that could happen to them. Hello tight chest and anxious heart.

We pray (and pray and pray) that our kids will be spared. That we'll be spared. And so many times we are.

But then there are those times we aren't spared. Those times when for whatever reason we are led into hard stuff, either by the side of someone we love, or down the path ourselves. For those times, here are some ideas for keeping you and your family encouraged, hopeful and BRAVE together:

3 Ways To Be Brave As A Family During Difficult Times

1. Use routine as a refuge. Doing the same things every day can get really boring (just ask any mom with an infant--feed, diaper, sleep, repeat.)...until life becomes bumpy. Then, when everything else suddenly becomes unpredictable, I find the predictability of a daily routine to be like a life preserver for my family. The steady pattern acts like a buffer against the waves, which is good for everyone, but especially effective for kids who don't always know how to process the heavy emotions that come with life's challenges. I can't always control the bad things that come, but I can control the 5 things we do every day before breakfast and the 3 things that happen every night before bed and just that is HUGE.

2. Get outside. I don't need a scientific study to tell me that nature lifts the spirit and restores me (though there are thousands of studies that say it does). God's creation is Expansive, Beautiful, and Alive. When my family is feeling Stuffed, Ugly, and Stagnant from challenging circumstances, nature provides a good antidote. Visits to the park, short walks, and even driving with the windows down invites freshness into an otherwise thick and heavy-feeling day.

3. Seek out the feel-goods. I'll confess that I'm not great at this one because it requires a little extra energy and intention, which I don't often feel when my family is struggling. But when I do take a few extra minutes to find and collect feel-goods (ex. funny video clips, endearing stories, hopeful headlines, cheerful status updates) the reward is instant. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes that we should "Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable" (Philippians 4:8). I like to add "funny" to that list, too, and challenge myself to share these feel-goods with my friends and family during difficult times to take the edge off and provide comic relief.

Of course this list is not exhaustive for bolstering bravery. Other suggestions for boosting hope and encouragement in your family during a hard time include prayer, reading uplifting Bible verses, taking lots of restful breaks, staying busy, serving others, exercise, play, and more.

My prayer for you and your family, whatever your circumstances, is that the hope of God fills your home and your hearts today. God makes impossible things possible--his power and love toward you and your family is great. Try one of these ideas today, or a creative idea of your own, and lead your family onward through challenges with bravery.

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