Have you ever heard anyone say they’re in “thrive mode” when life hits hard? Probably not. Most of us operate in “survival mode” when we experience suffering. I’ve been there, and I bet you have too.
But have you ever thought that merely trying to survive is a trap because it means we settle for less?
Jesus said that He came so we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Friend, the truth is that a painful season in life can still be part of the abundant life Jesus promised. And, that’s what we’re talking about with author Niki Hardy on this episode of the 4:13 Podcast.
Niki calls herself a cancer “thriver,” not just a survivor. She’s gut honest about how hard it is to thrive when your life falls apart. Her book, Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, is part BFF, part spiritual coach, and 100% down-to-earth.
With plenty of British humor and loads of practical advice, Niki debunks the lies you may be tempted to believe when you’re hit with a hard season of life. Plus, you’ll get seven practical ways to live well and thrive even if you’re going through a really tough time. You’re going to love Niki as much as KC and I do!
So, pour your tea, settle in, and enjoy this deep and practical conversation.
Lies that Keep You from Thriving
As she battled cancer, Niki says the overarching lie she believed was, “If I can just get through this, then I’ll thrive.” Often we think that abundant life is waiting in the future, but isn’t here in the middle of whatever mess we’re facing. Maybe you’ve found yourself believing this lie too.
Niki also shares 3 P’s she learned from psychologist Martin Seligman. She says these three lies can keep all of us from becoming resilient and moving through trauma.
- The lie of personalization. This is the belief that it’s all our fault. We often find a way to blame ourselves for whatever hard thing we face.
- The lie of pervasiveness. When one area of life falls apart, we can believe it negatively affects and changes all parts of our lives.
- The lie of permanence. It’s easy for us to believe that what we face right now is permanent. This lie tells us that things will always be this way, that we’ll never get out of this rut, or that we’ll never feel differently.
7 Practical Ways You Can Live Well and Thrive
So, how can you stop believing these lies and thrive even in the hard seasons of life? Niki shares seven ways:
- Choose brave. Brave isn’t something you are by your genetic makeup or a reflection of how gutsy you are. Instead, it’s doing stuff in the face of the fear. Niki says that choosing brave doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be intentional. It means that instead of taking the path of least resistance, you do the next right thing that leads to abundant life. And, if you choose brave as your first step, the other six things come much easier.
- Trust God. When you’re in pain, walking through grief, or struggling with unmet dreams, you know you should trust God. But sometimes it’s hard to because you’re angry at Him. He doesn’t seem trustworthy. Niki shares one way to increase your trust in God is to check out His credentials. When you remind yourself of God’s resume and that He always measures up, it helps you trust Him more.
- Find community. Niki talks about how, for a several reasons, she avoided the cancer community for quite a long time after she was diagnosed. But she came to realize that in addition to her long-standing community who could sympathize with her, she also needed people who could offer empathy. The same is true for you. Whether you’re walking through grief, infertility, illness, or something else, it’s important to find people who understand what you’re going through in a personal way and can say, “I get it.”
- Be vulnerable. When you find a community, then you need to do the brave thing of being vulnerable. Niki says it’s important to show up just as you are—which is most likely broken, scared, and a mess. Being vulnerable also includes being an open book with the Lord. Psalm 62:8 instructs, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” It’s when you show up vulnerably before Him that He has an easier time moving in your life and pouring out His strength, peace, and comfort.
- Embrace the journey. As Niki fought cancer, she had to learn to embrace all of her journey—this included the detours, diversions, and dead ends. She discovered that living well and thriving means learning not to live in the future or the past, but to be present in everyday moments. Niki says it was at that point when she realized that God’s name is I Am. It’s not I Will Be or I Was. He’s the most in-the-moment Person ever. When you’re willing to embrace the journey and embrace your emotions without letting them control or trap you, that’s when you find true freedom, hope, and laughter.
- Practice gratitude. When life falls apart, sometimes we wonder what we have to be grateful for. But Niki explains you don’t need to see things differently to be thankful. Instead, you can be grateful to see things differently. This happens when you flip the script and say, “I get to…” instead of “I have to.” For Niki, this meant saying, “I get to have my cancer treated.” For you, it might be, “I get to do laundry for the kids God’s given me,” or “I get to care for my aging parent.”
- Reach out. “I thought that because my life had shattered that I couldn’t be the glue in somebody else’s life,” Niki confesses. She says she stopped reaching out and helping people and instead hunkered down. But, after a conversation with another cancer patient where she was able to pray with this woman, Niki realized that reaching out to someone else didn’t come at a huge personal cost. Even when your life is hard, you can still reach out in small ways. Small acts of kindness are never depleting. They can build you up.
Sister, you don’t have to live in survival mode. You can follow these practices to help you to live in thrive mode. And remember, whatever you face, however you feel, as Niki said, you can still be the glue in someone else’s life. You can because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Learn More About the Take Courage Bible Study
- Get to know our guy Haggai even better as we study this prophet together in my newest Bible study, Take Courage: A Study of Haggai (LifeWay, July 2020). Watch the brand new video trailer and pre-order Take Courage here!
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense Bible Study
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
More from Niki Hardy
- Visit Niki’s website
- Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart
- Follow Niki on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Links Mentioned in this Episode
- Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the 4:13 Podcast here.
- Were you encouraged by this podcast? Reviews help the 4:13 Podcast reach more women with the “I can” message. Click here to leave a review on iTunes.
What Scripture verse helps deepen your trust in God?