How To Get Through Your Very Worst Day

May 17, 2013 | 26 comments

So,  first of all, I’ve spent years finding new ways to write this message on the blog:

Live in this moment.
Wring every drop of glory you can out of your life.
Make each day a John 10:10 kind of day.

(I might have even over-used exclamation points.)

I wrote words like that on my Facebook page yesterday:


Almost immediately, my Facebook page blinked with a woman’s anguished response: “What do you do when you just experienced the worst day if your life??”

My heart dropped into my stomach.

Because really, some days don’t feel worth repeating. In the middle of the brutal days, you’d never dream of DVR’ing them. And if you bought the re-runs off the rack at Target, you’d demand a refund.

Some days, you just want to erase the whole thing, hide under the covers and pretend that the day (or the years) never happened.

I held the iPhone in my hand, reading the woman’s words. A lump rose up in my throat. My mind did some mental gymnastics: what pain unleashed itself on her life? 

And right then, I remembered some my worst moments that would be hard to watch on the playback — seasons of betrayal, grief, that out-of-control feeling that makes your anxiety-seized heart race so fast you think it will sprint straight out of your chest.

What do you do, the woman asked, on the worst day of your life?

My hands cradled my iPhone, and at first, a dozen pat answers flooded my mind. I had a bullet-point list ready for her. Had a few Bible verses in mind and everything. I could have tapped them out, like a good Christian robot. I mean, she was looking for a little hope right? A little advice from a friend on the other side of the computer screen?  And wasn’t I supposed to have some answers here?

But this is what I did instead. I told her the truth. Because when my world crashes down, this is what I do: 

“I crumble.” 

Those are the weak words I typed into the comment box. Because those are the truest words. My default response is to fall completely apart. I do not do “worst days” well. I am a broken, weepy mess.

A few months ago, we suffered a private heartache here that kept me awake long hours, night after night. I didn’t want to get out of bed. And when I did, morning after morning, my eyes were puffy. I had something akin to an anxiety attack several times, where my throat tightened, and I didn’t know if I could breathe. And my husband, he would text me throughout the day from the farm office, just to let me know God’s got it.

Each of those days, broken as I was, I came to this place, and these keys. I wrote anyway — not about the details of something very painful and private. But of hope. I wrote about hope. Not of a false hope, or a detached theological concept, or a two-dimensional Savior figure who could, in theory, save us all from the mess we’re in down here.

Any word of hope that I’ve ever written in this place? Its roots are sunk deep into the rescue of the only real hope that this world has ever known. Jesus Christ is real, people, and He actually loves us. <—– That’s the only thing I know for sure. It’s simple, and true, and utterly life-changing.

Truth be told, I’m most malleable in the posture of the crumble. The seasons of pain have been the opening places for seeing God.  No, I don’t do “worst days” well. But God does.

So, then, how does a person get through her very worst day?

She simply falls down.

In my weakest, I fall head-first and heart-first into my Strong.

And maybe, someday, I’ll wish I could have DVR’d it after all. Maybe then, on the playback, I’ll see all what I could not have seen in my pain-blinded state–

How, in that moment when I didn’t think I could breathe, He was right beside me, exhaling life into my crumbled, crumpled soul.

(Thank you, Jesus.)


by | May 17, 2013 | 26 comments


  1. sheiladailie

    Love the “crumble” picture, Jennifer. When I find myself in that position, I read Lamentations 3:1-24. The first 20 verses resonate with my present state of miserable. The next four verses are like the rainbow after the storm—Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

    You said so beautifully that GOD does our worst days!

    • Elise Daly Parker

      Just had to comment…my sister’s name is Shelagh Daly!!

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Sheila. Those verses are a lifeline. I am sorry for your own “present state of miserable,” friend. Praying …

  2. Simply Darlene

    Oh miss. I had a crapTastic day earlier this week. And in hindsight, my event wasn’t really worthy of such anguish as it was highly self-induced and centered around the me-me-me syndrome. Nonetheless, I’d spent some time dancing with the devil and that nasty-schmasty led to me to the edge of the pit.

    I couldn’t figure out how to make my heart and soul right, I couldn’t find the “pat answer,” and I couldn’t find the feel good scriptures to haul my heart away from the edge of ruin… so as you said, I just crumbled, literally.

    And whaddaya know? God saw fit to embrace me there.

    Thank you for sharing this, miss JDL.


    • dukeslee

      CrapTastic. <------ You always know how to make me smile. xoxo

  3. 3dLessons4Life

    I have been hanging on to this verse for a few weeks now: “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Prov 23:18, NIV). — One of my favorite poems from back when I was teaching high school lit was that Emily Dickinson poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,.” On days when life gets tough, I think about that poem… about how the little birdy of hope is sitting in my soul and singing a tune that no one can drown out…. I hold on to that song. It keeps me going.

    This was such a great post. Thanks for being so honest. I am glad that we can “crumble together”.& encourage each other along….. keep singing, sister. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Lyli. Really appreciate those verses, as I’m sure the others here will, too.

  4. Laura Rath

    Jennifer, what a beautiful, heartfelt post! I love your honesty and transparency in saying “I crumble.” I get that…because I’ve been there. And He was there too, right beside me.

    I think as Christians, unbelievers sometimes think we have pat answers for times like this. But here’s the thing…life is hard. Some days (weeks, months) can leave me feeling like roadkill on the side of the road. Christian or not, we all have days like that. The difference is we know Christ is walking with us and that we are not alone. Knowing Christ doesn’t mean there won’t be pain, it means we won’t be left alone with it. And it makes me wonder how we can express that to others who don’t yet know their Savior.

    Love you Friend,

    • dukeslee

      I have this horrible habit of wanting to “hold it all together.” As if that’s my Christian responsibility. That is so wrong. So. Very. Wrong. If I could have held it together, I wouldn’t have needed Christ’s death and resurrection. Thank you, Laura, for being a safe place to “crumble.”

  5. lynndmorrissey

    Jennifer, this is why I love you…….you are transparent and compassionate. In your refreshing honesty, sans preachiness, you help others to be transparent, too. Thank you for the richness (and a bit of rawness) in this post. It–you–are a blessing!

    • dukeslee

      And I love you, Lynn. Thanks for taking me as I am. That’s so like Jesus of you.

  6. Elise Daly Parker

    So appreciate the woman’s response who triggered this post…and for your truth in telling it. I was miserable today…lots of reasons, none of them particularly horrible. Lots of pity. Some time with a Jesus loving friend really helped! Some days we just need to crumble!

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for being here, Elise. I hope your weekend brought a bit of light to those dark and miserable places. Mine sure did!

  7. Eileen

    “I crumble” Your simple, honest response was beautiful.

    • dukeslee

      <3 ((Eileen))

  8. Megan Willome (@meganwillome)

    That’s why I love you, Jennifer! One, you are sensitive enough to ask the question of how you might have hurt that woman and to respond thoughtfully. And two, I know you keep writing here even on the hopeless days, even when they’re the kinds of days you can’t write about here. Your hope is not superficial, but deeply rooted in Christ.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Megan. From you, that means a lot. Because you see deep, and if you see these roots growing deep, well then … I’m going to believe you are seeing something good. Sometimes I feel so shallow.

  9. ro elliott

    Oh…yes….some nights all you can do is crumble right into bed….I have been having those nights…..telling God how it all feels….then reminding myself of Truth….and asking Him to bring the reality of Truth the person …into this place….and yes…I do think as we travel down the paths….and the pain is far in the distance…looking in the rear view may be the best vantage point we have….thanks for sharing your heart….blessings

    • dukeslee

      Praying for better nights, and better days, good sister. You are loved.

  10. Elizabeth Stewart

    Thank you for your humble, honest heart. To give someone permission to not always be strong is a most gracious thing.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you. I appreciate you here, always, always, Elizabeth…

  11. Harriett

    How wonderfully you responded — you LEAN into him — you LEAN into strong.

    Beautiful, raw post —-

    • dukeslee

      Leaning. Leaning hard, Harriett.

      Thank you.

  12. Donna

    Beautiful. You are so correct. We crumble into Him. I absolutely am my most malleable when I hurt. I’ve seen Christ do His greatest work in my life in the darkest of times. Thank you.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for letting me crumble a bit, right in front of you, right here, Donna. It’s good to know we’re not alone.

  13. Donna Blum

    Jennifer…your response was spot on. It would have been so easy to give a pep talk and point your Facebook friend to some uplifting Bible verses, but that is not what she needed. Instead you were vulnerable, transparent and honest. What she needed to hear…what we all need to hear…is that it is okay to crumble. Every one of us has been there. When we fall apart, God is there to hold us together. We don’t have to face our darkest days alone. God draws near the brokenhearted and He promises to get us through the day, the week, the month, the year. I love 2 Corinthians 12:9: (But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.) Like Paul, I would rather be weak than self-sufficient. I want less of me and more of Him. Have you ever heard the quote: “Every flower must grow through dirt.”? I love this quote. It is so true! The “dirt” in my life has be the catalyst for the most growth. So, personally, I want to purchase the DVD lest I forget the miracles I have experienced and the hard lessons I have learned.



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