Sometimes when life is messy and we’re trying to see it optimistically and euphemistically, we say, “Oh, we’re just going through a rough patch.”  With that is the unspoken thought that we’ll get through the rough and into the fresh mowed, nicely manicured grass really soon.

I don’t know about you but it appears the rough patches are spreading.  No matter where you turn or whose story you hear, it’s full of people in the thick of difficulty and any way they try to slice it, they’ve gotten totally off the green, hit life’s ball into the rough and don’t seem to have the right iron to get themselves out again.  What then?

As an optimist, I like phrases and ideas that help lighten the load when I’m sitting in the  the rough patches.  If  I’m caught in the thicket. like a rabbit running from the fox, I like to look at all the options.   The first one  is simply to stop running.  Stay in the thicket long enough to rest, send up a meaningful prayer and embrace the situation.  It may not be all bad, in fact, it might be the perfect time to just listen.  Through thicket or thin sometimes you need to assess what has happened.

The next thing we might need in our vulnerable state is to avoid temptation.  The temptation is to close our eyes, stay in the thicket and start to see everything as trouble.  Edward Everett Hale found himself in a few of life’s thickets, and he said, “We should never attempt to bear more than one kind of trouble at once.  Some people bear three kinds—all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.”  So, if we’re sitting in the brier patch and all we can think about is the trouble we’re in then we’ll be in a rough patch for some time.

Getting out of the rough then is partly a matter of changing our position, or changing our thinking.  This is no small thing, nor is it a glib cure-all.  It’s in fact, the only way to ever get out of a rough spot.  We have to raise our thoughts above the situation, call on the God of our hearts to help us, and then seek the additional support of others who might have insights for us.  Divine appointments with others can start to make the way clear again so that the path ahead levels out and the fox gets bored enough to move on.

A little paraphrase from Francis de Sales says, “Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He is your keeper.  He has kept you safe so far and if you hold fast to His hand He will lead you through the thickets of life no matter how many foxes set out to chase you.  When you’re in the rough, He will bear you in his arms.”

I’m standing with you in the rough patches today, waiting for the foxes to pass by, but absolutely certain that they will because there’s a clearing up ahead and God already has a light on, just waiting for me to get there.  The good news is that every time one of us gets to the next clearing, we can make a path for others to follow.  That motivates me even more to get through the rough patches.  As someone up ahead cleared the way for me…I’ll clear the way for you…and you’ll clear the way for someone else.  Wow!  I think the sun is coming up already.

Grace, peace, and blessings to you today.

    • Karen says:

      Paul, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I only know that for myself whether I’m in the rough or the clearing, I’m thankful that I have a place to go for help and comfort and some sense of finding the sanity in it all. As you know, that’s not an easy process. Blessings to you, my friend.

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