I had an epiphany recently while sunk in the muck of a failed relationship. 

“I’m only missing out on something temporal.” The thought seemed to come to me out of nowhere. Even though I know this world is temporal, this particular time, the idea resonated with me deeply. I wondered if maybe it was a nudge from God, reminding me of what Paul tells the church in Corinth: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Again, while I know this to be true, oftentimes it’s easier said than done. In the wake of disappointment, breakups, missed opportunities, etc… we can become bogged down in the “could haves” or “should haves.” Our minds want to ruminate over the what-ifs and obsess over the idea of missing out. 

In some, this manifests as dissociation. While I’m not a doctor, and neither is the internet… Web MD can help break it down for you a bit here: “Dissociation is a break in how your mind handles information. You may feel disconnected from your thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. It can affect your sense of identity and your perception of time.” 

While anyone can struggle with dissociation, it’s a mental health problem that has come up for me several times, often in conjunction with Bipolar episodes. In prolonged and extreme forms, it can be diagnosed by a medical professional. For me, dissociation tends to look like losing track of the present and feeling “stuck” in the past, desperately desiring to change circumstances that have already moved on. During these times, following Paul’s advice to fix my eyes on what is eternal feels particularly impossible.

I moved from Northern California to Southern California 5 days after I graduated from high school. The plan was to live with my grandparents and run cross country for a community college close to their home. I’d spend the summer training, and then stay for at least two years until I transferred to a 4-year school. Little did I know, an episode of depression would leave me reeling, sending me back home to Northern California, and snatching those plans away. 

The day I arrived home, I remember literally burying my head in the cushions as I lay face down on the couch. This was just the beginning of a descent into a deep depression, lasting 3 months. Day after day, I‘d wish that I was back in Southern California, back on track with my plan. I was so preoccupied with the past, I even had dreams at night of everything “going back to normal.”

My past was stealing away my present. I felt so embarrassed, lost, and confused, unsure of how to move forward. The last thing these problems felt was temporary. 

Moving forward from that place was TOUGH. I don’t know that I can fully express how hopeless and directionless I was. It took from the end of August to mid-November to even commit to anything other than lying in bed all day. 

I wish I could say that this was my only difficult life season. But we all know that’s not how life works. I’ve had a myriad of similar situations since then, largely as a result of my Bipolar Disorder, like the ended relationship I mentioned earlier in my article. 

So, friend, if struggling is where you are today, that’s okay. There are so many seasons or challenges I go through where I feel guilty for being where I am. Yet, through all of this, I’m learning that God wants us to work through things, not just get over them or push them down in favor of more “acceptable” or “positive emotions”. More than that, I’ve realized that I am not alone in having to carry these difficulties or feelings. I’m still working through the emotions of that summer 6 years later! Definitely on a smaller scale, and in healthier ways, but it’s not like I suddenly understand exactly why God allowed things to go down in that way. So, again, if you’re finding it difficult to move on, know that you are in good company, but I hope sharing some of the ways God has met me in these places will encourage you when it becomes hard to see beyond your immediate circumstances.

Because it is through these repeated circumstances that I feel God has spoken to me. 

Truly, time after time I thought I knew what God was doing, and what was coming next, only to have those plans come to a screeching halt. At those moments, I began to feel robbed or envious of the circumstances of others. 

Yet, as a result of these situations, I’ve begun to look at life from a vastly new perspective. Through time and therapy, I’ve been able to adopt a more flexible mindset. One that allowed me to cope with the unknown. 

The breakup from someone I had seen a future with placed me in a precarious position again.  However, this time, I’ve found thatrather than running from the thoughts and praying for a redoI’ve just been praying. Talking to God. Telling him how I honestly feel. Crying to him. Does the situation still suck? Of course. Still, the ability to accept it is allowing me to move through the situation rather than trying to get over it. 

This acceptance goes hand in hand with allowing God to bear our burdens. God cares more about who we are than about getting us to the next thing. The more that I’ve basked in the bliss of a real closeness and intimacy with God, the more I’ve realized that the “next thing” is and always will be God. I heard someone say it best recently, “If we are walking with God, we are already walking in our purpose.” Suddenly, it becomes easier to let go of a sense of loss or focus on my past. The nearer I draw to God, the more I allow him to carry me through seasons of heartbreak and loss, and the more I can see his eternal work in my life.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus urges, “‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’” Here, Jesus is inviting us to walk in step with him. He promises rest to those who accept his invitation. 

But what stands out to me most is what Jesus does NOT say. He doesn’t say that we must grind, figure out things on our own, and then find rest and peace. No, we are told, in order to find rest, we must bind ourselves to God and be reliant on him. 

We are a culture of “what’s next?” If we’re always waiting for the next thing, we are constantly striving and feeling empty. This makes it so easy to be overwhelmed by guilt and loss when life doesn’t go according to our plans. We never want to miss out. Yet, when we lose ourselves to disappointments, maybe what we are missing out on isn’t actually the next thing. Instead, perhaps we’re missing out on the reality of a here-and-now-moment, with you exactly where you are, side-by-side, and in relationship with your Creator.



*Disclaimer: This article is not intended to offer medical advice or diagnosis.