In case you don’t know, the 1993 movie about the iconic day – February 2 – became an instant classic and continues to be a staple in February. In the film, Bill Murray gets stuck in a time loop and is forced to relive the day over and over and over again. While he’s initially overcome with anger, frustration, and even depression, he eventually embraces the madness and uses it to do good. In the end, he falls in love and finally wakes up on February 3 instead of February 2.
So why do I bring that up? Because as we face the actual Groundhog Day this year, the truth is that many of us can feel like we’re stuck in a mental or emotional Groundhog Day, just like Murray. We can feel like we’re spinning our wheels. We can feel like we’re just going through the motions. We can feel like we are powerless to change our circumstances. We can feel hopeless.
I was there recently.
The last bit of 2022 was hard for me. I felt like I was stuck in that loop. There were days I didn’t get out of bed. Days that were a blur. Days that felt like they’d never end. If that’s you right now, I want to share four things that really helped me get unstuck from my "Groundhog Day."
I’ve said this before on the blog, but it’s worth repeating: In “Frozen II,” the character Anna sings a beautiful song called “The Next Right Thing.” The idea is that when you feel stuck, sometimes it’s best to “do the next right thing.” See, we can get so overwhelmed by the bigger picture that’s when we have to narrow our focus. Put one foot in front of the other. Do the next right thing.
The Bible has been saying this for thousands of years. It says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So that’s a call to focus on the next right thing, the small thing, the thing in front of us right now.
So if you find yourself in a rut, try taking smaller steps. Resolve to get up and take a shower. Then resolve to brush your teeth. Then decide to eat lunch. Go from small step to small step. And then don’t be surprised to watch it snowball in a good way.
I have a whiteboard in my office. Historically I’ve used it for brainstorming and keeping track of work projects. A few weeks ago, I took my eraser and wiped it clean. I literally created a blank slate. In place of project plans and delivery dates, I started writing out what I knew to be true about myself.
See, my anxiety, OCD and depression tell me a lot of lies. They tell me I’m a fraud. That I’m not smart. That I don’t have anything to offer. They tell me that there is no hope.
So I took the lies and wrote the opposite on my whiteboard. And I made sure to do it in “you are statements,” as if an objective third party said it to me.
Now, every morning, instead of concentrating on the lies, I have a visual representation of what I know to be true – what I know God says about me.
I think that’s why the Bible tells us in the book of Philippians that we need to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.” We need to concentrate on the truths. And as we do, those truths illuminate and eradicate the lies.
About a month ago, my wife took a shot in the dark. We woke up on a Saturday and didn’t have plans. Because of what had been going on with me over the last few months, I found myself saying “no” to many things – especially if they involved going out and “doing something.”
On this particular Saturday, she decided to test the waters.
“What if we took the kids to the museum?” she asked.
“Yeah, let’s do it!” I said.
“Really? I didn’t expect you to say yes.”
We went and had an incredible family time.
Friends, when we’re stuck in a rut, we tend to withdraw. Retreat. Disengage. I had found myself doing that, and when I realized it, I felt convicted to do something about it. That “something” was making a conscious effort to say “yes” to more opportunities that got me out of the house and engaging with family and friends. One of the most effective things that keep us from growing is isolation. So if you find yourself stuck right now, I want you to make a conscious effort to say “yes” more.
Do you know how I got to the point of realizing I was isolating myself? I was open and honest with a friend about what was going on. That friend challenged me to take small steps to move toward my family and engagement instead of away from them.
God has put people in our lives that can check our blind spots for us. After all, they’re blind spots because we can’t see them. So we need friends who can see what we can’t.
One of the ways, then, I’ve found to get out of a rut is to be completely open and honest with a close group around me so they can help check my blind spots, encourage me and pick me up when I fall.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” the Bible says in Proverbs. In this past season, I was dull and needed sharpening. And when I was actually open and honest about that, it was incredible how much quicker I became a useful tool again.
Are there other ways to defeat your own Groundhog Day? Definitely. But these were the ones that really helped me in this challenging season.
Remember, there is hope. This is not the end. We can walk through valleys and not be alone.
I’ll leave you with something my pastor said recently that hit me hard (in a good way).
“God stretches us beyond what we can handle so that we’re forced to recognize our weaknesses and our need for him,” he said.
While this emotional and mental Groundhog Day may not be fun and may definitely not be easy, recognize that there is a God who loves you and that is enough to sustain you. You are not enough. He is. And there are some incredible things he’s preparing you for.