Storm-Tested Faith

When life takes an unexpected turn, and things start to unravel, it can be challenging to maintain hope or faith. Perhaps you’ve lost a job, divorced, or faced a health crisis. Whatever the case, your world is turned upside down, and the future looks uncertain.

In times like these, faith can feel strained. You may start questioning beliefs you’ve held for years or wondering how a good God could let this happen. Anger, fear, and doubt may overwhelm you. It would be best if you desperately had something solid to hold onto, but everything feels like slipping through your fingers.

Keep Your Faith

Yet, even as storms rage, faith can provide an anchor. Scripture offers countless stories of men and women who clung to God in their darkest moments. And many saints throughout church history testify to the peace and strength they found in Christ when all else faded away. Their examples remind us that God remains faithful no matter what happens. He will never leave us or forsake us.

But how do we tap into that faith when devastation hits? How do we trust God when tragedy strikes without warning? This book offers biblical truths, real-life stories, and practical suggestions to help you cling to hope amid hardship. Even if everything around you is falling apart, your faith can remain intact. God is still at work—promising to renew your strength, use your pain, and walk closely with you through the stormy seasons ahead. You need only reach out and take His hand.

Cry Out to God

When overwhelmed with despair or anger, resist the urge to hide those emotions from God. The Psalms demonstrate raw, uncensored prayers to God in good times and wrong. The writers freely voice their doubts, fears, confusion, and despair. They don’t pretend to have it all together; they pour out their hearts. God can handle your truthful emotions, so bring them to Him. Release the anger, grief, and uncertainty that weigh you down. Admit when faith feels shaky, and ask Him to sustain you. As you voice those emotions, you “cast your cares on the Lord” (1 Peter 5:7). Releasing the burden lightens your load. 

Recall God’s Past Faithfulness

When storms hit, we quickly forget all the times God demonstrated His goodness and faithfulness before. Our trust depends very much on what we focus on and remember. Scripture often recounts how God preserved, protected, and provided for His people (Psalm 77:11; Hebrews 11). Recall specific instances when you experienced God’s presence, guidance, or provision. Write them down if necessary. Remembering builds faith that if God was faithful before, He will remain faithful now—no matter how bleak circumstances appear. 

Lean on Scriptural Truths and Promises

Storms often blind us to clear scriptural truths we’ve understood for years. That’s why having key verses and passages hidden in your heart is essential. It would be best to have biblical truths readily available to combat doubt and fear the moment they hit. Passages like Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23:4 assure God’s sovereignty, plans, presence, and care—truths easily forgotten when everything falls apart. Storing up Scriptures when times are smooth equips you to recall promises of hope when calamity strikes. Speak the truth aloud to yourself daily. God’s Word provides light in our darkness.

Remain in Community

Solitude often tempts us when dealing with deep pain. We withdraw out of shame, depression, anger, or a host of other emotions. But God intentionally designed us to need a deep Christian community during trials—people to weep with, pray with, and lean on (Galatians 6:2). Do not pull away from godly loved ones. Talk openly with mature believers who have navigated their storms. Meeting with fellow strugglers normalizes pain and prevents distorted thinking that might lead us to wrong conclusions. Truth spoken in love grounds us. Choose community over isolation. 

Help Someone Else

Sounds ironic, perhaps, but focusing on helping another struggling person provides a welcome distraction from our pain. It also chases away victim mentality, replacing it with purpose and meaning. Consider hospital visitation, delivering meals to shut-ins, mentoring a young believer, volunteering at a rescue mission, or writing encouraging notes to prisoners. As you lighten someone else’s load, your own strangely feels lighter. God designed us to reflect Christ to those who suffer. Serving others cultivates joy and peace even in seasons of profound loss. It’s a paradox of God’s kingdom. It was pouring out, ushering His comfort in.

Pursue Intimacy with God

Most importantly, pursue deeper intimacy with God. Run hard after Him, not just His benefits. In your pain, He draws near to comfort and uphold you, so accept His invitation (Psalm 34:18, James 4:8). Set aside particular unrushed time daily to pray, reflect on Scripture, pour out your heart, and listen for His voice through the Spirit. God promises to meet with those who earnestly seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). Ask Him to reveal any sin-blocking fellowship. Confess and receive cleansing and freedom from guilt (1 John 1:9). Press into spiritual disciplines like solitude, fasting, silence, nature walks, and singing worship songs. Delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4)—He desires closeness. 

Help My Unbelief

If waves of doubt persistently batter you, pray the famous father’s prayer, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Admitting belief and unbelief at once is profoundly honest. The man’s son still received healing despite lingering doubts. So, cling in hope to what you do believe even when plagued by skepticism or cynicism. Whisper simple prayers like “Jesus help me” or “God have mercy.” Repeat verses promising God hears you. Tiny mustard seeds of faith move mountains. God sees faith mixed with weakness and lovingly pardons. You need not hide wavering confidence from a compassionate Father. Keep taking faltering steps toward Him. Christ upholds the sincere heart earnestly seeking Him, even when certainty wavers. 

God Permits Storms for Good

Ask God to reveal His purpose in this storm. Scripture declares God uniquely crafts every detail of our lives—using all circumstances to mature us spiritually for eternal good (Romans 8:28-29). God permits storms, never causing evil but allowing difficulties for reasons we cannot yet grasp. As Joseph declared regarding his slavery and imprisonment, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20). You cannot presently trace God’s unseen hand of redemption in your trial, but take heart…Neither Joseph nor Job could see the tapestry God wove using their tragedies. You likely won’t perceive the finished work until reaching heaven and understanding with glorified sight. But rest assured, nothing enters your path unfiltered by your loving Father’s wisdom and sovereignty. Keep walking in faith that He works powerfully well from this storm.   

Hope for Glory Awaits

If doubts about current circumstances plague you, focus on guaranteed future glory instead. Christianity uniquely provides rock-solid hope—an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19)—that lifts our perspective beyond today’s pain. Commit these promises to memory: “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Cling in faith to the assurance that what awaits far eclipses present agony! Keeping eternity’s promises in view motivates us to persevere. The day will come when God Himself will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4). Hope lifts heavy hearts.

Accept Mystery in Suffering

The mystery of God’s purposes and plans will always remain while we walk by faith, not yet by sight. We will never have every piece of life’s puzzled path, at least not on this earth. But refusing to accept not knowing only breeds frustration and anger toward God. Living with gaps about why God allows suffering requires surrendering the need for control and acknowledging God’s superior ways. Let go of vain attempts to play the Holy Spirit in your life. Relinquish demands to understand everything. Determine instead to trust God’s character and promises despite the inability to trace His hand through every experience. Exchange the word “why” for “how”— “How can I lean into you through this, Lord?” Release a tight-fisted grip on the journey. Let God write the script His way. 

Anchored by God’s Unchanging Nature

While circumstances wildly shift without warning, lifting souls one day and crushing the next, one vital truth remains unmoved… God Himself. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). When nothing in life seems stable or secure, the anchor for our soul remains Jesus. Meditate on God’s steadfast attributes like love, mercy, patience, wisdom, and faithfulness—all revealed in Scripture’s pages and mirrored in Christ’s unchanging essence. Though rain pours, winds gust, and waves batter your ship, the sturdy rock providing a safe harbor never shifts. God calls you to Himself, saying, “Come to Me! Walking to me on stormy seas requires no strength but trusting I remain sovereign and good while your world spins out of control.” Fix eyes solely on Him.       

God Weeps with Us in Grief

Something profoundly touches the heart of God when tears wet the faces of those He loves. Christ symbolized this truth, poignantly weeping at Lazarus’ graveside despite plans to raise him. Our Savior identifies intimately with human sorrow. Perhaps God permits storms in part to share emotionally in our earthly journey—identifying not just with intellectual concepts of trouble—but tangibly bearing grief’s agonies alongside His children. Your loving Father collects every tear His children shed, capturing them in a bottle of remembrance (Psalm 56:8). Imagine His hands cupping your wet cheeks now, thumb gently wiping tears away. Sense Him drawing you close to rest your weary head against His chest as you weep together. Take comfort in the fact that God feels and carries your burdens with you. You walk through this valley in His strong arms. 

The Potter and Clay Analogy 

When life unravels without warning or apparent purpose, remember the metaphor of clay yielding to the potter’s hands (Isaiah 64:8). Master crafters position lifeless lumps on the spinning pottery wheel, deliberately applying pressure to transform them into beautiful containers of purpose. Yet, from the clay’s perspective, the process bewilders. Why the painful pressing and stretching? Why is there intense pressure and reworking just as form takes shape? Careful inspection and slight refinements follow before vessels slide into the kiln’s fiery furnace for finishing. The hot flames of trials perfect them. Once pulled from the scorching heat, brushing fantastic glaze across their surface adds luster for God’s glory. Our loving Potter, the Master Craftsman, shapes His clay vessels through storms that prepare us for eternal purposes. Yield trustingly to His skillful hands.

The Pruning Analogy 

To grasp another glimpse of God’s perspective in trials, consider Christ’s teaching on vine pruning in John 15. Vinedressers prune vines, causing bleeding gashes and painful wounds. Yet their desired outcome is more excellent fruitfulness from the plant. Without this radical cutting back of branches, abundant fruit could not emerge. Believers are God’s vineyard—units vitally connected to Christ, the true vine. Our Father lovingly prunes His children using various tools like illness, financial hardship, broken dreams, and relationship loss to stimulate spiritual growth. His ultimate goal? We conform our character to Christ’s image and cut away excess “busyness” to foster deeper intimacy with Him. If surrendering false securities distresss you, thank God He considers you worthy of radical spiritual surgery. Remember, the divine Vinekeeper’s purposes flow from profound love, not cruelty. Let Him have His perfect way in your life.    

The Refiner’s Fire

 Like pruning sheers, refiner’s fire serves God’s purpose of cleansing and purifying His children from sinful imperfections and worthless impurities. Scripture depicts Christ “refining us like silver and testing us like gold” (Zechariah 13:9). This refining process exposes hidden flaws, just as fire reveals impurities in precious metals. Yet we are assured the Refiner closely monitors the intensity of heat to preserve the metal as He lovingly removes corrosive imperfections. Similarly, your faith is infinitely more precious to God than gold, perishable to decay (1 Peter 1:7). Consider it pure joy when firey ordeals test faith, for God sanctifies you completely for heavenly use. His purifying benefits far outweigh temporary trials. Say yes to His refining. Keep eyes on Christ, your perfecter of faith.

The Blessings of Brokenness 

Christ’s death vividly displayed redemptive power from brokenness and suffering. Without the cross’s wooden fragments piercing His flesh as He hung humiliated and bleeding, no hope of salvation emerges. Yet we obtained peace, healing, and forgiveness because He was crushed and pierced for our transgressions. We follow the footsteps of a wounded healer. So when life unravels, remember the blessing that emerged from broken places. God now writes beauty from ashes, joy from grief, gladness from mourning (Isaiah 61). Consider the heavenly perspective from Revelation 5—glimpsing saints worshipping the Lamb while holding the harps God handed them. Those who suffered greatly for Christ now sing the loudest, thanking Him for counting them worthy to endure earthly trials and redeem their pain for eternal good. One day, you, too, will grasp God’s glorious mosaic using shards of your broken pieces.

The Fellowship of Suffering

While sitting in darkness, recognizing others’ journeys through similar valleys comforts me. Shared suffering creates an unbreakable soul bond. Paul grasped this, longing for the resurrection and the fellowship gained through suffering (Philippians 3:10-11). Consider biblical saints like Job, Joseph, David, and Lazarus—all forging intimate kinship with Christ through traumatic grief. Remember multitudes of hurting strugglers surrounding you when sensed alone in emotional darkness. Create space for divine encounters, allowing hurting ones to support and mutually encourage each other. Watch for poignant moments of connection through eyes locked in knowing empathy. Listen for those needing a listening ear to voice their soul’s anguish. Offer hope, not optimistic platitudes. Model leaning fully into Christ through pain’s wilderness. These fellow pilgrims comprehend and walk alongside you as companions through the darkness.

Take Comfort from Biblical and Church History 

When personal storms of epic proportions strike, reading others’ journeys through deep waters normalizes emotions and combats distorted thinking about God’s character of love. Biblical testimonies from Job, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, and Paul reveal common threads— God’s faithfulness despite perplexing trials, vindication after prolonged injustice, beauty emerging from ashes, closeness with God in suffering, and redemption of pain for ministry to others. Church history brims with those who clung to faith amid horrific persecution—Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, Richard Wurmbrand, Helen Roseveare, and Joni Eareckson Tada, to name a few. Common themes emerge… courage under fire, radical forgiveness of oppressors, intimacy with Christ outweighing agony, and miraculous redemption of pain. Take heart, remembering God walked intimately with other darkened travelers before you. Your storm cannot possibly surprise or bewilder a God who permitted Job’s whole travail.      

God Captures Every Tear

When waves of mourning overwhelm you, ask God to capture your tears in His bottle of remembrance (Psalm 56:8). Visualize Him delicately gathering each fallen tear like treasured keepsakes holding precious significance instead of casually brushing them aside as useless discharge from leaky eyes. Consider every drop crystallized and then stored in His heavenly vault. Picture each tear transformed into individual diamonds specially cataloged with labels detailing the sorrow and meaning behind their release. Your loving Father thrills to transform tears shed in grief through faith’s perseverance into sparkling jewels adorning eternal crowns. Every tear falling to earth in despairing pain contains holy sacredness as offerings to God allowed through His filtering will. Rest knowing He preserves those tears as precious memorials of passing earthly sorrows once fully redeemed for glory. No tear ever touches the ground without God’s notice. “You keep track of all my sorrows…collect[ing] all my tears in your bottle” (Psalm 56:8 NLT). You are never alone in mourning.

Where Do You Go From Here?

If your world feels like it’s crumbling, take heart. You are not alone. Countless followers of Christ have walked this valley before you, clinging to God as their anchor in the storm. Their journey reminds us that faith can withstand and overcome life’s most brutal blows with God as your foundation.

The stories, promises, and spiritual truths we’ve explored equip you to better weather storms when they hit unexpectedly. Prayerfully reflect on anything God revealed to you through this journey. Ask Him to highlight the next faith steps as you move forward.

Lean wholly into proven anchors that uphold during trials—Scripture’s truths, prayer’s lifeline, faith community’s support, and service to others. Pursue deeper intimacy with Christ. Release emotions freely and transparently to God. Speak gospel truths aloud in combatting lies and despair. Fix eyes on the glorious hope eternity holds, allowing this perspective to shape daily choices.

And remember, the Minister of All Comfort promises to be nearer to you than your breath. You need not walk a single step without His presence upholding you. He captures every tear and faithfully works to redeem your pain for good. Emerging beauty awaits as God’s love and purposes become clear one day.

You have all you need to withstand life’s worst storms. Now, intentionally cling to the Unshakable One as your only daily anchor. Take courage—He will lead you through the winds and waves to the harbor of the most profound rest, most entire joy, and brightest hope. The choice rests with you. Will you trust Him with all that lies ahead? Say yes to His outstretched hand!

Me After We: Loving Yourself Back to Life When a Marriage Dies

A peak at my latest book:


Divorce or separation can be a challenging and emotionally trying time in anyone’s life. Your world is turned upside down as relationships change, living and financial situations change, and your vision for the future changes. This book is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to navigating all aspects of divorce and separation, offering practical advice and solutions at every step.

I cover all facets of managing life during and after divorce or separation. We’ll tackle the emotional aspects and mental health considerations, including coping with grief, loneliness, anger, depression, and more. We’ll dive into the legal process, ensuring you understand your rights and obligations. We’ll explore the financial changes and budgeting effectively as income and expenses shift. We’ll discuss telling the kids and helping them transition as custody arrangements take shape. An entire section of the book focuses on building the structures and skills for moving forward in your new chapter of life.

Chapter 1: The Emotional Impact and Mental Health Considerations

Going through a divorce or separation turns your world upside down emotionally. Even when the decision is mutual and amicable, the grief feels profound. Relationships with not only your former spouse but often shared friends and family members suffer collateral damage. Your vision for the future shatters along with so much familiarity within your daily life.

It’s an understatement to say the experience provokes intense emotions like anger, loneliness, resentment, and deep sadness. You may cycle rapidly through these feelings, feeling totally out of control. The loss of stability can exacerbate or contribute to mental health struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, and more.

Know that ALL these emotional reactions are expected after a separation or divorce. There is no “right” way to feel – be compassionate with yourself as you navigate the turbulent waves. And utilize healthy strategies to cope with the challenging mental health elements so you can begin moving in a positive direction.

Coping with Grief 

The grief parallels what someone may feel after the death of a loved one. That grief stems not only from the loss of the partner but also from the imagined future, the day-to-day familiarity, stability, and dreams that disappear. Allow yourself to grieve fully. Find supportive people with whom you can confide during this mournful transition.

Don’t criticize yourself for what you feel or when/how intensely the grief washes over you. Appreciate the stages of grief as part of the healing process:

•        Denial – Numbed shock set in initially for me when I first heard my spouse say they wanted to separate. I pretzeled every which way to justify why it wasn’t over and over. But denying the reality only postpones the pain temporarily.

•        Anger – When denial faded and the permanence set in, white-hot anger roared through me regularly. I felt so betrayed that they could upend my life. Journaling, exercise, counseling, screaming into pillows – find healthy releases for all that intense anger. 

•        Bargaining – I desperately sought any way to unwind time and save my marriage, willing to promise the moon if we could reconcile. But at some point, I had to accept there was no bargaining my way out of it.

•        Depression – After exhausting myself, raging, and negotiating to no avail, I crashed HARD into depression. The extreme sadness, isolation, and regret washing over me felt endless. Counseling and medication to balance my brain chemistry kept me functioning. 

•        Acceptance – One baby step at a time, I made peace with my new abnormal. My marriage was over; this was my life now, and I had to keep walking forward. I still get pangs of grief, but predominately, I’ve embraced surrender.

Don’t get down on yourself for how long it takes to reach “acceptance” or if you cycle back through the stages. Healing grieving takes time and patience with yourself.

Coping with Loneliness 

The loneliness of losing a life partner often overwhelms in those early days and weeks after separation. You may yearn physically and emotionally for their presence – falling asleep alone, waking up, and coming home to an empty house. Feelings of isolation can seem relentless.

Combat the tendency to withdraw entirely from others by proactively nurturing social connections. Reach out to loved ones routinely – not just when the angst becomes unbearable. Spend less time alone at home, ruminating over your thoughts and feelings. Push yourself gently to get out, do activities that generally lift your spirits, and participate in gatherings even if you don’t feel like it.

Also, consider seeking out divorce support groups in your local area. Connecting with others walking the same grieving journey can help normalize your experience and remind you that you will get through this. You may even build lasting friendships and networks from the groups. Knowing you are not alone makes a difference in combatting loneliness.

Anger Management Techniques  

Anger often emerges front and center after the sadness of a separation surfaces. You may feel infuriated by perceived injustices regarding how the breakup played out or how your former partner treated you. Resentments can erupt like volcanoes over assets lost or the costs of divorce and rebuilding. Anger towers when you perceive your ex is speeding through the grief and moving on romantically well before you’re ready.

The key lies in expressing the anger in appropriate, not destructive ways. Yelling, throwing things, and plotting revenge will only breed more hurt and entrench you in negativity. Healthier strategies include:

•        Vent to trusted friends/family who can empathize. Feeling listened to provides a healthy outlet.

•        Journal extensively about your raw feelings. Getting them out on paper can help you process them. 

•        Engage in intense exercise like kickboxing classes or working out to sweat out the anger coursing through your body.

•        See a counselor who can help constructively unpack the anger and hostility to find a resolution. 

•        Channel the passion into causes or activities fighting injustices that upset you in the culture.

•        Allow the intensity to subside instead of reacting instantly when upset. Pause, breathe, and remove yourself from the situation, heating your anger until you respond calmly.

The goal lies not in squashing justified anger but appropriately channeling it so that it is a constructive force, not a destructive one.

Coping with Depression, Anxiety and More

The level of life disruption, uncertainty, and grief triggered by separation and divorce can readily spiral into psychological struggles like depression and anxiety disorders. Rates of both conditions skyrocket in the aftermath of a marital dissolution. Additionally, some develop symptoms of PTSD in response to the trauma and chaos that turned their lives upside down unexpectedly. Mental health struggles can paralyze you from effectively responding to the pressures and demands already besieging you during this challenging transitional time.

Thus, recognizing when to seek professional treatment proves essential. If you had no preexisting mental health conditions but battle the following symptoms for two or more weeks, reach out urgently to a psychologist or psychiatrist:

•        Depression – Loss of interest/joy in activities once pleasurable, overwhelmed by hopelessness nearly every day, lethargic fatigue, sleeping too much or too little, noticeable unintentional weight changes, excessive tearfulness or crying spells, recurrent thoughts of dying or suicide.  

•        Anxiety Disorders – Constant nervous feelings that won’t subside, panic attacks, irrational worries about a host of everyday situations, obsessive thought patterns you cannot control, uncontrollable compulsive behaviors.

•        PTSD – Reliving the traumatic event through intrusive memories/flashbacks/nightmares, avoiding reminders of the event, emotional numbness/withdrawal from life, feeling perpetually on edge or jumpy, negative sense of self or the world, difficulty recalling specifics of the trauma.

Counseling, medication from a psychiatrist, group therapy, or often a combination of these interventions tend to work best in combatting divorce/separation-related mental health conditions. As symptoms improve, usually you can reduce or phase out the treatment supports in place. Prioritize finding this help ASAP – you shouldn’t have to live feeling miserable, anxious, or emotionally paralyzed in the wake of losing your marriage or partner. The right interventions can help encourage significant emotional healing.

Click the link to buy on Amazon:

Mastering the art of life


Life is messy. The world is chaotic. With endless stimuli and distractions demanding our attention from the moment we wake up, it’s no wonder many of us feel lost. We grasp for the familiar in jobs we dislike, expired relationships, and routines that numb our senses. The noise of the external world muffles our inner voice, obscuring our true passions, needs, and purpose.

In the quest for stability and sanity, many of us turn to self-help books, podcasts, and gurus promising fulfillment. We absorb the advice: Discover your calling, curate your social circle, practice mindfulness, and radiate positivity. This sounds wonderful, but is it achievable amidst the swirling chaos? Can we implement such noble principles when our day-to-day reality is so turbulent?

This book follows one man’s journey to find his best self in an imperfect world. John’s path of self-improvement and struggle teaches us that while life will never stop being messy, we can control how we respond to external chaos. Happiness is not found in controlling outside forces but in nurturing inner calm and light.

John’s story shows how habits like mindfulness, optimism, and resilience allow us to navigate life’s storms. By letting go of external attachments, focusing inward, and accepting that the chaos will never cease, we can find inner peace and continue improving. While the world’s noise is sometimes deafening, tuning into our inner voice helps us stay grounded.

John’s transformation illustrates that real change comes from within. Even when all seems lost externally, we can shift our mindset and actions. We can clear the clutter of toxic habits and thoughts holding us back. Though the journey is challenging, inner work liberates us to thrive amidst the chaos, find fulfillment in simplicity, and uplift others.

This book is an inspiring tale and a practical guide to becoming your best self in an imperfect world. John’s example provides hope to those who feel lost in the madness and desire positive change. His story teaches us to embrace chaos as the backdrop for continued self-growth because the only thing we can control in this unpredictable world is ourselves.

Chapter 1

John woke with a start, slapping his alarm clock into silence. As he wiped the sleep from his eyes and sat in bed, he felt a familiar dread wash over him. It was Monday morning—time to return to his soul-sucking job that he hated.

John begrudgingly showered, choked down a bland bowl of cereal, and put on his most boring suit. Just another manic Monday, he thought bitterly. He walked the crowded city streets like a zombie, avoiding eye contact with the other disgruntled commuters crammed onto the subway.

John’s mind began to wander as he settled into his tiny, windowless cubicle. He looked around at his coworkers in the office, all mindlessly typing away. He internally groaned, thinking about the mountain of data reports he had to file that day. John’s job as an accounting clerk for a big insurance company made him numb. Meaningless numbers on a screen. Endless spreadsheets and paperwork. The office’s harsh fluorescent lights only added to the agony.

The worst part was that John’s surface-level life looked pretty good from the outside. He made decent money, lived in a lovely apartment, and seemed to have things under control. But internally, he was miserable. He dreaded coming to work daily, feeling no passion or purpose in the tedious corporate job.

Things weren’t much better outside of work. John’s long-term girlfriend, Emily, had broken up with him a few months ago, leaving him devastated. He spent most weekends just drinking beer alone and watching TV, trying to distract himself from his sorrow.

John had a few casual friends from college he would text occasionally, but no one close to whom he opened up to. He was shy and insecure about putting himself out there to meet new people. So John just felt stuck, lonely, and depressed.

As John listened to his boss ramble on about their department’s quarterly quotas, he thought seriously about driving off the road into a tree on his commute home. If he didn’t do something to improve his life soon, he felt like he might lose control of these suicidal thoughts.

Something had to give. John knew deep down that he deserved more out of life than this daily misery. He was only 25 years old – he couldn’t fathom enduring this despair for decades to get his pension and gold watch. Unfortunately, his first step to positive change would have to wait until the weekend. John gritted his teeth and pressed on for the rest of the long, painful week.

Illuminating Social Media: A Creator’s Guide to Lighting Indoor Video

Illuminating Social Media: A Creator’s Guide to Lighting Indoor Video

Lighting is one of the most important yet often overlooked aspects of creating quality video content for social media. With so many people now watching videos on their mobile devices, proper lighting is essential for ensuring your videos look polished and professional.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need about lighting for indoor video shoots. We’ll cover key terminology, different types of lights and their uses, where to position lights, how to use natural light effectively, and much more. By the end, you’ll understand the fundamentals of 3-point lighting techniques essential for great-looking social media videos.

Empty photo studio with lighting equipment

Key Terminology

Before we dive into setups and techniques, let’s go over some essential vocabulary around lighting that will help you better follow lighting concepts:

  • Key light: The leading light that primarily illuminates your subject. This is usually placed at a 45-degree angle from the camera-subject axis.
  • Fill light: A secondary light source that fills in shadows created by the key. It softens and balances out harsh shadows.
  • Backlight: A light placed behind the subject to help separate them from the background. Adds a rim light around the issue for added depth.
  • Intensity: How bright or dim a light source is.
  • Color temperature: A light source’s “warmness” or “coolness” is measured in degrees Kelvin. Lower Kelvin ratings are more yellow/warmer, while higher ratings are whiter/cooler.
  • Soft light vs. hard light: Soft light comes from a diffuse source, creating soft shadows and highlights. Hard lights have focused beams, creating harsh contrasts and sharp shadows.

Types of Lights

There are many options when it comes to selecting lights, each with its pros and cons. Here are some of the most common types:

Continuous Lights

  • LED panels: Bright, energy efficient, long-lasting. They come in a variety of sizes and color temperatures. Great for beginners.
  • Florescent lights: Affordable but lower intensity. It can have an unnatural color. They are still used often for interviews.
  • Tungsten lights: Hot color temperature. Traditional stage lights but high power consumption.

Strobe Lights

  • Speedlights: Small shoe-mount flashes. Very portable but has limited power. Great for fill lights.
  • Studio strobes: Powerful off-camera flashes. It allows for creative lighting but is more expensive.

Natural Light

  • Windows: Gorgeous diffused light. Changes color/direction with time of day. Blinds/sheers help control.
  • Doors/Skylights: Add additional ambiance. Consider the path of light.

As you can see, every light type has advantages and limitations. We recommend starting with LED panels as they offer the best balance of control, power, and ease of use for social media videos.

Key Light Positioning

The critical light plays a vital role in lighting your indoor videos. Your key’s position, angle, and quality dramatically affect the look.

The most common placement for your key light is at a 45-degree angle towards the front of your subject. This angle casts nicely defined shadows on the face, creating contour and depth without heavy clouds. Position your crucial light high enough so light falls onto the subject’s face but not so high that you lose the lighting intimacy.

If placing the key at a 45-degree angle isn’t possible with your space, you can position it straight ahead, facing towards the subject. Just know this frontal lighting is bright but flat, losing much of that dimension on the face.

Here are some essential light dos and don’ts:


  • Place key to complement subject’s position
  • Use softboxes or diffusers to soften harsh lights
  • Match brightness color temp with other lights


  • Don’t place the key behind the subject, casting shadows on the face
  • Please don’t make it too bright, blowing out the image
  • Don’t use unfiltered hard lights, creating sharp shadows

Getting the key set up correctly takes some tweaking. But nailing it goes a long way in having professional quality lighting.

Fill Lighting Purpose and Position

The next step is adding fill lighting once your key light is positioned correctly. As mentioned, fill lights help soften shadows created by the harsh key. This balancing effect makes the lighting look more natural and appealing.

Standard placements for fill lights are on either side of the camera, low towards the front of the subject. This frontal position better reaches shadows created by that key source. The fill eliminates dark patches under the eyes, nose, and chin. Fill intensity should be around half the key’s strength, kissing enough to softly even ratios.

You have options for sources – using LED panels, spotlights, or reflectors to bounce in natural light. Having enough separation from the key prevents washout while still brightening facial shadows. Be sure to adjust levels for a smooth gradient of light and shadow.

Back Light for Added Dimension

At this point, you have essentially completed the standard 3-point lighting setup. But you can take things further by adding backlighting for extra background separation.

Backlights, also called hair or rim lights, create nice halos of light around subjects, making them stand out from the scene. Position your backlight above and behind the talent. Angle this down towards the top of their head so light grazes around the front edges of hair and shoulders.

This back rim light adds excellent depth, moving from a brighter talent to a darker background. It works exceptionally well in videos with busier environments. Use flags or sheets to prevent the backlight from spilling towards the camera, ruining contrast. With a properly balanced 3-point lighting scheme, your videos will pop with professional quality dimensions.

Manipulating Natural Light

While artificial lighting provides ultimate control, natural daylight can be used effectively if manipulated correctly. Here’s how to make the most of ambient sun and skylights:

First, ensure your critical natural light source is diffused by positioning it next to large windows, reflective surfaces, or shooting under cloud cover. This gives soft, flattering light vs overly harsh shadows.

Next, pay attention to directionality – where shadows fall based on the sunlight path- and use these patterns to your advantage. Shooting earlier/later in the day casts a more excellent angled glow vs midday overhead.

Thirdly, shape incoming light by blocking direct rays but allowing a maintained bounce glow with scrims. Similarly, cut down intensities with white diffusion sheets when overwhelmed. Window blinds/curtains also help control levels.

And finally, fill in underexposed areas with reflectors or LED lights. These balances contrast for more even exposures under otherwise unbalanced natural conditions.

Natural light can elevate overall production value by thoughtfully shaping distracting highlights/shadows, embracing golden hour glows, and filling overly contrasty regions.

Optimizing Exposure

Your lights may all be perfectly placed, but effort is wasted if not properly exposed. Follow these tips for optimizing exposure:

  • Use light meters to gauge brightness levels on subjects objectively. Most cameras/phones have these built-in now.
  • Ensure subjects are neither over or under-exposed based on histogram or blinkies. Boost lights if underexposed, and diffuse/adjust if overexposed.
  • Set custom white balance according to your lights so colors are accurate. Most cameras allow manual color temperature settings.

Get familiar with exposure warning tools, adjusting aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to center ideal brightness ranges while balancing the desired depth of field. This ensures lighting is shown in its full high dynamic range glory.

Accessories to Enhance Lighting

Beyond fundamental lighting sources, accessories like reflectors, bounce cards, flags, and diffusers add further finesse:

Reflectors: Inexpensive mirrors that redirect existing lighting. Use to fill overly dark shadows and facial contours.

Bounce cards: Lightweight whiteboards that achieve similar fill effects to reflectors. More flexible.

Flags: Solid dark fabrics that cleanly block light spill contamination between areas, like key > fill zones.

Diffusers: Translucent sheets that soften harsh light sources by scattering rays. Fasten to lights with clips.

Gobos: Templated light blockers create patterns used to isolate regions. Stencil spotlights/backgrounds.

By thoughtfully incorporating secondary modifiers, you gain even more control over your indoor lighting designs’ shape, texture, and contrast.

Achieving Cinematic Looks

Thus far, we’ve focused primarily on balanced, naturalistic lighting aesthetics. But more stylized cinematic techniques can be applied for extra visual intrigue when appropriate. Here are some ideas:

Low Key Lighting – Dominated by shadows. Only partially illuminates subject, obscured environments. Evokes mystery.

High Key Lighting – Very evenly lit, blown-out background. Clean, modern with flat gradients.

Split Lighting – Shadow runs halfway down the subject’s face. Dramatic.

Butterfly Lighting – The high and centered key creates a shadow under the nose. Fashionable.

They are strobing / Flashing – On/off pulsing lightning. It can feel glamorous on set or chaotic in narrative.

Implementing these alternative schemes sporadically adds flair and cinematic style to your creative vision.

Optimizing Lighting for Different Skintones

A vital point we have yet to cover involves adequately lighting diverse skin tones. Due to differences in melanin levels, dark and light complexions react differently under light. As such, special accommodations should be made so that all talent looks great on camera, not just more delicate-skinned subjects.

Here are tips for lighting various skin tones effectively:


Increase exposure slightly. Reduce color intensity. Add warming gels if they are too bright/blue. Watch for blown highlights.


Golden skin can turn grey if there is an incorrect white balance. Boost amber tones slightly. Watch for shadow depths.


Use redheads/tungsten lights to emphasize rich tones over sickly green casts. Lift shadows to prevent muddiness.


Boost exposure significantly. Add more frontal fill light to compensate for underexposure. Cool down orange hues. Lift blacks.

You do justice by tailoring adjustments to complement melanin levels by representing diverse subjects beautifully. Don’t simply default to conventions that favor certain complexions.

Lighting on Darker Backgrounds

We’ve primarily addressed lighting against white/light backgrounds. But videos increasingly utilize darker, more cinematic backdrops. Here are quick tips for lighting these richer scenes:


Dramatically under-exposing backgrounds add inky richness. Use flags to shield fills/backlight spilling onto walls/floors.


Use gelled lights matching vibrant walls to model subjects with color—teal backlight against the teal wall.


Inject subtle floor lighting to give standing subjects a glow from below. Use cooler temps like tungsten.

These moodier high-contrast setups create striking focal points around subjects. But preserve fill illumination so important facial areas don’t get lost!

Common Lighting Issues & Fixes

Even well-conceived lighting plans can develop problems. Here are common headaches and how to alleviate them:


Are certain sections excessively bright or dark? Reshape lights to distribute them more evenly.


Add more frontal fill to soften dark hollows. Diffuse or re-angle key source.


Compensate orange sodium vapor or blue haze with a custom white balance.


Increase subject-background light ratio with more exposure up front and less behind.


For multi-cam shoots, use objective light meters to match levels across angles.

Identifying and addressing these symptoms quickly gets lighting back on track.

We’ve covered many ground discussing approaches to light indoor video content for social media effectively. From fundamentals around 3-point lighting to manipulating natural light to more advanced techniques involving color and contrast, you now have a framework for establishing creative, flattering lighting setups.

Just remember, knowledge is useless without application! Rig up cheap shop lights and an iPhone and experiment with the above core concepts. Learn through doing.

Great lighting is truly the unsung hero behind exceptional cinematography. Start playing with light, and your videos will shine brighter than ever on any social platform.

When Someone Lets You Down, It’s Okay to Let Them Go

We’ve all had people who have disappointed us or let us down in some way. Maybe a friend broke a promise or went behind your back. Perhaps a family member said something hurtful or failed to show up when you needed them. These experiences can be painful and make us question the relationships. However, as difficult as it may be, it’s often healthiest to accept what happened, realize it says more about the other person than you, and then let them go from your life.

gray rolled asphalt road under cloudy sky

Trying to cling to a relationship after a significant breach of trust or act of disrespect usually leads to more pain. It may keep you chained to the past rather than moving forward. You might try forgiving them and giving them another chance. But if they don’t own up to their actions, make amends, and show through changed behavior that they want to reconstruct the relationship, you are not obligated to keep them in your life.

You are standing up for yourself by acknowledging their poor choice and its consequences – namely, that you don’t feel comfortable having them play an intimate role. Rather than raging against them or reacting angrily, you are sending the clear message that you deserve to be treated well. If they cannot or will not do that, you are more than ready to walk away and focus your energy elsewhere.

This isn’t about spite or revenge. It’s about self-respect. You know your worth and expect mutual care, understanding, and reliability from your close relationships. While others can live by their standards or make their own decisions, even hurtful ones, you can choose who occupies a prime place in your life. When someone’s actions reveal they don’t value you as you love them, it simply means they no longer deserve that coveted spot. The most constructive thing you can do is gracefully remove them from it and make room for those who treat you the way you want and deserve to be treated.