Have you found yourself in the midst of a situation that is taking everything in you to manage or to survive within?
Are you wondering whether there is light at the end of the tunnel and whether you will ever find the way out of the angst and pain that you have found yourself in?
Are you waiting for others to change around you, or for your life situation to shift ‘of its own accord’, frustrated that it is taking so long to do so?
Have you been let down by those who have made promises to you or who have been in authority over you and your life?
Have you been promised the world and yet been given crumbs?
Would it help you to know that you are not alone?
If you are stuck in the middle of something that has been going on and on and you are finding it hard to keep your head up in the waves, I want to let you know that most of us go through a variety of storms and surges, especially those who grow and rise above the ‘norm’. Many of us have been there, where you feel as though you cannot or will not keep afloat. Many of us are still doing our best to swim, rather than to sink, under the pressure of it all. Not everyone experiences these trials and not everyone rises higher than the crowd. We each have a journey in life.
Sometimes the thing that can help us the most, when we are faced with any form of negativity or struggle, is to begin by reframing the way we are thinking about our problems, and to turn them into challenges instead. I love to think of problems as challenges rather, as it is more empowering, and to take them on rather than to run away. When we run away from our ‘problems’, the thing that has been creating disharmony tends to either stick around or chase us, or pop up in another (possibly worse) way later. It is never a good idea to stick our heads in the sand … unless we are ostriches, of course … and they were designed to do so.
As someone who has faced her fair share of uphill battles through life, and been close to others who have as well, I always find that it is better to face challenges head on. It is far better to deal with things as they arise. We progress our lives more effectively and more sustainably, when we do our best to get to the root of the issue as fast as possible, in order to move on once whatever lesson the situation holds has been learnt.
This is another way to think about problems or challenges, as lessons, however you see what it is that you are dealing with. Tough situations are: lessons. Every hiccup, every pothole, every obstruction has something that it can teach us in life and, when we learn the lesson, we go forward stronger, wiser and more in control of our own destiny than forever at the mercy of ‘fate’.
There are times, however, when no amount of good attitude or altering the way we approach our situation helps. There are times when we do indeed find ourselves completely ‘stuck’, and these are the times when we have to dig deeper. Thus, instead of being frozen when caught, we come up with more tools to cope and then to shift our lives when we are more able to do so.
If we alter our perspective on what we are facing, instead of ruminating on it, we can often find ways to win regardless of what is going on around us. If we find a way to step around the obstacle or the person who is standing in our way of achieving peace and success at something in life, we can find solutions. We can take steps ourselves to improve the place where we have been ‘stuck’, and we can keep our focus on the light while doing so … there is always light at the end of every tunnel. There is always hope.
When we look at a goal and take steps towards it, the very nature of our taking action will often relieve the sense of frustration that we have experienced, while we were looking out towards others for answers and relief. We do not think as victims, when we are intent on shifting our lives to a better place.
I have found, in the tides and the heartaches and the struggles to reach a destination that I’m intent on getting to in life, that it is helpful to look at where I have come from rather than looking straight up towards the peak of a mountain ahead. Looking back is good for referencing where we are at and what we have already overcome. This is not the same as living in the past, but is as useful as looking at a map for co-ordinates. We create a bigger picture, with more perspective and more awareness, which helps us where we are at.
One thing I have found immensely helpful to comfort myself with, is the thought that if God had intended my life to be ordinary, he would have made it far more straightforward! You might like to borrow that, during times that you feel life cannot get any more crazy or you wonder why everyone else is so happy, while your life is feeling all uphill. You are not alone … others are on the steep slopes too and they, like you, are the brave ones. Bravery is not fearlessness. Courage is doing it anyway, regardless of the fear.
Once we embark on a journey, whether to reach a goal directly or to undertake a journey towards the goal eventually, in increments, we can think of all sorts of things that might stand in our way and we can come up with plans to deal with them, if they do. This is a considered and worthwhile exercise, as it provides the vital preparation that enables strength during times of adversity … we have a plan. Before embarking on the journey, it is a good idea to do this exercise, rather than once we have taken off and then find ourselves in a silly mess!
However, on some journeys, there are others with us and their attitudes, actions and perspectives will affect our journey as well. These are the times when, rather than surrendering to thought patterns or actions of others’ that we find simply wrong, we can look within ourselves and out towards those signs of life that give us hope, in order to find the fuel to keep on towards the goal.One thing that is never a viable option, until all options have been tested, is to simply shrivel up and say “I can’t”.
When I was a little girl, my mother taught me that “There is no such thing as can’t”. Well, there were many times when I questioned why my mother was telling me such ‘lies’, because there were indeed times when I could not … but I learnt to keep going anyway and I learnt to persevere in all sorts of trials. Thank goodness I learnt that type of perseverance at a young age, as it has been much needed and much later in life too!
I certainly did need to learn that there is such a thing as ‘can’t’ too, and to learn to stop rather than going on indefinitely when something was going in the wrong direction for me. Some things in life are simply not meant for us to continue to participate in and some things or people must be removed from our lives. But, we do not remove the unsavoury from our lives in a spirit of defeat or victimhood, ever.
Keeping on going is often the determination to remove what is not working, taking a deep breath, and then continuing the journey. At times, ‘keeping on’ might mean climbing back down the mountain and trying another mountain instead, but it is never a good idea to give up when we have already invested so much of our life and energy into reaching a summit or a vantage point in life. With most things, it is only a matter of time and perspective and grace, and we will reach our destination eventually, hoist an imaginary (or real) flag and say “I made it, despite all the odds!”
What do we do when others have thwarted our journey, though, and caused us endless bruises along the route?
Well, there is nothing to it really: we have to forgive.
How can we forgive, when others have caused the problems, the pain, the obstructions, the loss, the heartache, the isolation, the slithering back down the soggy slopes?
Well, there is nothing to it, really : we have to forgive.
What? Do you mean to say that I should forgive someone who has caused all the mistakes and failures, all the unnecessary delays, who has neglected their duty, shirked responsibility and caused untold stress?
There is nothing to it, really: we have to forgive.
How can I forgive someone who has caused me to slip and to slide, to lose my way and perhaps even to be kicked out of the groups in which I formerly held a key role?
Well, there is nothing to it, really: we have to forgive.
Why must I forgive someone who is so clearly at fault?
Well, we forgive so that we can be free and so that we can breathe and so that we can shine and so that we can attract goodness, as moths to the light that draws them closer.
We forgive so that we no longer carry the burdens of pain and despair.
We forgive so that we have the mental space to create and to attract new opportunities, rather than to be stuck in the old and the stale.
We forgive so that we have space in our lives to welcome in the new.
What of the other person(s) who have caused damage or distruption to our lives?
Well, there really is nothing to it: life itself will sort them out.
It is not our responsibility nor do we have time in our lives to bear grudges. Life is short and we do not need, ever, to seek revenge. Revenge seeking is a complete waste of our precious lives.
Well, my life has been extraordinarily hard, you might say.
To this I would add that had God intended your life to be ordinary, he would have given you the easy life.
You will win, and it will be glorious when you reach the summit and the truth and the light.
Remember this, for a beautiful life, no matter the journey to get there:
“Forgiveness is key to flow in our lives, and affects every area of our experience.”
We really do not have any other choice, if we wish to live well.
It is the key to flow and to peace.
PS. If you’re looking for inspiration and to hear a true story of courage, integrity, grace, humility and forgiveness, I would urge you to take a look at the website of Rusty Labuschagne, a South African man with the most incredible story to tell. Let Rusty’s story inspire you! Go to www.beatingchains.com to find out more.
PPS. There are many resources amongst the range of books that I recommend too, for which you’ll find links in my Reading List at www.TheHollyTreeTales.com/Reading-List.
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