When you encounter a national tragedy, like the George Zimmerman acquittal, it tends to compounded whatever hurts and heartbreaks you were already suffering with on our own. Just over a week ago, the loneliness, abandonment and betrayal many of us felt were simply heightened emotions leftover from the last time a supposed source of protection and support had failed us. And the justice system was just another thing, yet another thing, that had turned its back on us and left us to fend for ourselves. But while it's noble to rally for justice for Trayvon Martin, if we take to the streets to protest our individual pain--like NBA star Dwayne Wade's ex-wife, Siovaughn, recently did, to expose how unfairly she feels he is treating her--our behavior will probably be frowned upon.
There is a better way. As we move out of our initial shock, rage and disappointment at whatever the many sources of our heartbreak may be, there are five ways that we can restore our tired spirits and power up for whatever may come next on this journey.
1) Rest. Sleep was designed to have a restorative effect on your entire being. While you sleep, your body rejuvenates and your energy is conserved. Sleep can quite literally heal your heart by decreasing your risk of a heart attack. In addition to decreasing the likelihood of inflammation around your heart, getting more than six hours of sleep a night, every night, will sharpen your memory and increase your emotional stability by staving off depression. As best you can, make getting a good night’s rest a priority so that you can wake-up with a clear head and a renewed energy.
2) Reconnect with God. It is remarkable how quickly we can turn away from God when things do not go the way we believe they should go. During times of great disappointment and hurt, we can intentionally or subconsciously disconnect from God while we lick our wounds. But how can we heal when we cut ourselves off from the source of healing? Use these times of heartache to draw closer to God than ever before.
If your health allows it, go on a food fast, drink only water, and pray throughout the fast for God to show Himself to you, to teach you more about who and what He is. Dedicate specific times to talk and to listen to God, meditating on Him and praying for His wisdom, understanding and guidance in this and every situation.
3) Reconnect with People. Withdrawal from your community of friends and loved ones is a normal reaction when we’re hurt, betrayed or embarrassed about our heartache. It is also a surefire way to remain depressed, feeding into the (most likely) unfounded idea that because one person didn’t care then nobody cares. Though many may not fully understand what you’re going through, there are people reaching out to you who will love you through your hard times—if you let them. No one is an island; we need each other to survive. Reach back out to those who are reaching out to you, or even those you may have cut off, and see how quickly your spirit will begin to heal.
4) Release anger. It takes a lot of energy to be angry. Even righteous anger can take its toll on your well-being when it contorts itself into hatred and loathing. That hatred can rise like bile in your throat and grow so thick you choke on it if you’re not careful. But what if you acknowledged your right to be angry and then released it? What if you chose not to hate those who have made themselves your enemies?
There are few things more liberating than regaining power over your own emotions in the face of an injustice done to you. When you choose to release your right be angry, you’re essentially deciding that your right to emotional, physical and spiritual health is more important. But since energy is neither created nor destroyed, your anger must go somewhere. Make it count.
5) Reroute energy into purposeful action. Everything that you’ve ever done is preparing you for what you will do. Everything that you’ve been put through is positioning you to become who you were meant to be. If you believe this, than you know that your life and mission are so much bigger than the heartache you’re experiencing right now. With a renewed sense of purpose, use every drop of anger, hatred and hurt that you were once directing toward the source of your heartache and reroute it into intentional actions that will bring you even closer to becoming who you were created to be.