Once you replace that all-too-unprofitable question with a better one and strengthen your resolve, you need to establish a support system that includes accountability and encouragement. Maybe you already have that or at least sometimes have that. But the point is that you need to be intentional about it and nurture it, so your spiritual support system is there when you need it most.
Open Communication Is Key
Here’s the thing: You need to actually communicate with those in your close “inner circle” about your struggles and needs during difficult times. That means making yourself vulnerable enough to admit how you tend to struggle and what is helpful versus unhelpful. When you’re in the moment, this kind of communication is often more difficult, or even impossible.
For instance, if you know you tend to complain or vent, but you know that doesn’t honor God or help your situation, you can tell a friend, “I know I tend to go beyond sharing my difficulties and get into the ‘poor me’ trap. When I do, I really need you to ask me if I’m ‘crossing that line.’ That will help keep me accountable to do what I’ve resolved to do.”
Maybe your issue is more that you clam up and keep your struggles private, letting your thoughts run all-the-more rampant. You could say, “When I’m really struggling, I tend to withdraw, but I know that isn’t helpful. When you notice me doing that, could you ask me to get together or just call me or show up at my house? It’s really when I need a good friend most, but I just don’t have the strength to reach out and ask for help.”
Pity Parties Are No Fun
One of the main areas we need our support systems to help us guard against is self-pity. When life is hard, we feel like we have a hand-delivered invitation to a Pity Party, and most of us have a hard time not showing up. We feel like we deserve to feel sorry for ourselves, worry about our dilemma, or speak or act without self-control or concern for others. Not only is negative communication always a problem, but being considerate of others is always a possibility (Ephesians 4:29).
Respect and Trust Are Important
The people you want on this kind of support team are those whom you respect and who you’ve seen honor God and love others through difficult situations, themselves. While they may struggle differently than you do, they have probably learned to establish resolve and ask better questions during hard times, so they can actually be helpful to you.
But you need to be able to trust them, too. Trust has two aspects: trustworthiness and dependability. If you don’t currently have people in your life with whom you feel comfortable being vulnerable, with no fear that your heart and privacy will be guarded, let me remind you: You always have at least One. And honestly, He’s the only One we really need.
Continue reading: What to tell your physical support system