It has been a challenging summer. I’m sure you may feel the same way.

Members of the LGBTQ community tragically lost their lives during a horrific terrorist attack.

Young black men tragically lost their lives in police shootings.

Police officers tragically lost their lives while protecting their communities.

Madness and noise surrounding the upcoming presidential election.

And this doesn’t even cover tragedies taking place in other nations or the personal problems we face at home.

It’s a lot. Too much at times. But I am convinced, however, that we don’t live in a horrible world. I think much of what is happening is troubling, but troubling things have been happening in the world for centuries. The problem is that we now live in a world where every troubling occurrence is right in our faces, on social media for all of us to see… over and over again.

It’s hard to deal with and a lot to manage. And truthfully, many people don’t manage it well at all. They manage to get out of bed and do what’s expected, but inside they are struggling with all of it. The pain. The sorrow. The injustice. The anger. The anxiety.

Some of us truly feel lost and sad and confused about what’s next,

And for mothers, these unsettling feelings are magnified. We don’t just worry about what we need to do, but we obsess over how every decision we make will impact our children. And what’s more difficult is worrying about how the decisions made by others will impact our children.

As a black woman, the wife of a black man, and the mother of two precious black babies, I feel lost and confused at times. What do I tell my kids about being black in America? How do I teach them to love others, regardless of background, while explaining the harsh truth that some people will treat them poorly based on how they look. How do I manage the burden of always wondering who truly wants to understand the challenges of our existence, and who’s smiling in our faces and talking sh*t behind our backs? How do I explain that although there is no question that all lives matter, we have to make it clear to everyone that #BlackLivesMatter. Why? Because history has shown us time and time again that so many do not see value in our existence. We’ve been told that our lives don’t matter.

Yet, despite these burdens and moments of confusion and sadness, I am clear on one thing: I am proud to be who I am and I feel blessed to have what I have.

Life is hard. God never promised it would be easy. He did, however, promise that He will be with us wherever we go. I believe that promise with every fiber of my being. I have seen it time and time again in my life. So despite how hard things get, we have to find ways to nurture our spirits and feed our souls. It’s what God wants for us. It’s what we should want for ourselves.

So how do we do it? How do we cope in a world filled with chaos, pain, and uncertainty?

Here are a few personal decisions that you can make to help you cope with life.

Unplug

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love how it allows us to connect with people all over the world. I think that’s amazing. I also love how social media grants so many opportunities to share our passions and gifts with the world. But I hate the noise. I hate how people share opinions on social media that they wouldn’t dare share face-to-face. I hate how the ugliest sides of humanity come through on the screen. I hate how people use it to lie and scam other people. So you see what I mean by love-hate, right? And despite the feeIings of love I have, I know that when you feel overwhelmed with life, social media is the last place you want to waste your energy. You have to UNPLUG. And not for a measly 12 hours either. Unplug for a weekend or a week or a whole damn month. Give yourself a break from all the noise.

Say No Without an Explanation 

I recently had a conversation with a close friend about the beauty of saying no without an explanation. Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with age, but we both  talked about no longer feeling the need to explain why we can’t do something or be somewhere. When I say no, it’s a complete sentence. I’m grown. I don’t need to explain why, I could, but I usually choose not to. The “why” only matters to me. So the next time someone asks you to do something to be somewhere, just say no if that’s what you really want to say, No explanation. Just a simple N.O.

Develop a prayer strategy

I recently watched War Room (I know, I know. I am crazy late). It was a great film. Following the film, I decided to read Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. Both the film and the book made me realize that I need to create a prayer strategy. We are at war with the devil, and the more prepared we are for this battle, the more equipped we are to win it. So all this negative energy that begins to consume us when we struggle with managing what life throws our way is the devil’s work. He doesn’t want us to cope. He wants us to fall victim to life’s challenges. Develop a prayer strategy so he doesn’t ever get what he wants.

Walk away

A friend of mine recently booked a local hotel room so she could get away and be with herself for a little. What an amazing idea. We cannot keep giving all we have to everyone we love without ever taking the time to replenish. That is crazy. When life feels like too much, walk away if you can. Take a break. Whether it’s an overnight hotel stay or a night out with your girlfriends, just take a step away from the day-to-day stresses of life so you can fill up your tank and regain strength and perspective.

Get help 

I’ve been to therapy before. It’s good stuff. Actually, I think we could all benefit from some form of therapy. But whether it’s therapy or asking the people you love to offer more support in your life, go ahead and get yourself some help. I’m not sure how this “do it alone” mess started, but it needs to stop. We are not designed to do it all alone. We need help.