I’m not sure how much bad news one person can take. What a week!
Even as I write, I’m releasing long deep breathes to help ease the pressure and avoid going into the dark recesses of my mind.
For some reason bad news comes when we are experiencing a beautiful peaceful season. At least, this has been a pattern in my life.
After the death of my father and birth of my daughter within a year of each other, I’m relieved to have had a drama free time of late.
This has been a much needed break for my heart to grieve, heal and renew for the journey ahead.
THEN earlier this week I received news that a dear friend of mine had been given two years to live due to a cancer diagnosis.
On the same day, my doctor called about test results needing further investigation.
All of this in the same week that my Mum started chemo to fight her own cancer battle.
We all get bad news
If you are alive, you WILL have to hear, digest and process bad news.
Along with death and taxes, bad news is a given.
Whether its losing a job, receiving news that a loved one is sick, hearing that someone doesn’t love you anymore, or a bad test result.
Bad news can be such a heavy load to carry if it’s not processed and released. We can get stuck in its bleakness.
Through trial and error I’ve learned to not get stuck in the mud of bad news.
Let me introduce Roger
He was a man in his sixties who was as wise as he was dynamic. Roger carried a pocket full of wisdom from a life well lived.
Roger was a work-mentor from about 20 years ago who was advising me professionally during a season when I was in a very toxic and harmful relationship.
I instinctively knew I should listen to what had had to say.
‘One thing I can guarantee, Rebecca, is that throughout your life, as much as there will be bad days, there will be also brilliant days, punctuated by more really difficult days, then more brilliant days.’
This truth that has helped me through some very dark times.
Knowing that everything comes and goes in season, even good and bad days, has helped me to look forward and hope for better days.
There are seasons that come with rain – pain, tears, suffering, uncertainty and bad news.
There are seasons of glorious sunshine – prosperity, joy, new beginnings and adventure.
The bible talks about this. In Ecclesiastes 3 we read that there is ‘a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’ (v. 1).
Even in the most terrible season of bad news, there is hope.
As mentioned earlier, my very much loved father died of cancer 18 months ago after a ten month battle.
I was able to accept that whatever the outcome, this season would end and I would walk into a new one.
Indeed, here I am 18 months later and I have transitioned into this new season of being a mum.
I’m now in one of those brilliant seasons of life. The words of my old mentor have never been truer.
And yet, bad news still comes. My friend is still dying. My mum still has cancer.
Friends who listen
I’ve learned which friends whom I can share honestly. Friends that listen, rather than preach or attempt to know better.
In times of bad news, I have found it very life-giving to be with friends who can sit with me in my pain.
It’s simple, but I don’t underestimate the value of sharing bad news with a trusted friend. Not only does this bring clarity and wisdom to my decision making, but it can help me to discern whether or not what I’m carrying in my heart is mine to carry or not.
Not yours to carry
Sometimes people dump bad news on you that is NOT YOURS to carry. I now ruthlessly take off things that aren’t mine. (I wrote about this in My life-changing lesson.)
I may choose to carry things because I am in deep relationship with the person, or I have committed to praying with them in their season of need.
I’m discerning in what I allow myself to carry with and for them.
This strategy has significantly lightened my mental load and improved my capacity to support my loved ones during difficult times.
I can offer up my best instead of an overly-burdened version of myself.
Of course, my faith helps. Knowing that God is with me and I can walk through this life with Him makes the outlook a lot less scary.
I can live with hope despite bad news.
How did you deal with bad news?
Please share your gems of wisdom in the comment below. I’m keen to learn.