Dealing with Difficulties in Life.
I often look at and admire people who seem to take life in stride and just pick up and go on no matter what difficulties life seems to throw at them. They make lemonade each time they are handed lemons and do so cheerfully. I clearly remember several years ago, when I had to tell a mom that her child had leukemia. I broke down and wept and she calmly looked at me and said she will be okay. She had so much strength, which somehow was passed down to her daughter and they went through chemotherapy and all the treatments with so much dignity, and her child was ultimately fine.
How does one deal with difficulties in life? Like the death of a loved one, an incurable or chronic illness or job loss or bankruptcy? I watch couples who strive so hard to have babies, with no avail and yet some of them are still strong and cheerful, whilst others become bitter and angry? What side will we fall on, when we face these life challenges that will invariably come our way?
1. Be Real
I know people who are very strong and give thanks to God and believe for the best in every situation. These people are spiritually very strong and have learned through experience that everything eventually works out for good. For most of us, we cry. We get upset. We even lash out at God and ask why? I find that our God is able to handle it and it’s okay and natural to show your emotion. It does not make you a bad person or a weak person. Everybody’s emotional fabric is different and for some releasing the emotion gives them the grace to move on. It’s also helpful to lean on your support system, be it your family or friends, your church family or even your therapist.
2. Give thanks
Having a spirit of gratitude is one of the greatest attributes anyone can have because gratitude and bitterness cannot live together in the same person. I have a very close friend, who lost her relative. We both cried and then after that I said, “How do we give thanks for something like this? We prayed about it. I felt so let down.” And her answer was so sincere and heartfelt. “It is tough but we still give thanks. God is always in control and He knows why this happened. We have to trust God and still believe.” Now that is faith. The kind of faith that moves mountains. Having gratitude seems to shift the universe in your favor. Maybe you are just happier and you draw good things to yourself. So I’m learning that as hard as it is sometimes, I have to try and find something to be grateful for in every situation. I don’t mean pretend that there is no problem but to have gratitude in spite of the problem.
3. Help someone else
One of the best ways to overcome difficulties is to help someone else. It may be as simple as a call to a friend who is facing similar difficulties. It may be volunteering at a soup kitchen when you’ve lost your job and are looking for another one. I loved the relationship between Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the movie “The Bucket List” in which they both took turns supporting each other in each person’s time of need. Humans were never created to live in isolation and reaching out and helping others and giving support when needed is healing for our own souls.
4. Be happy for other people
I always remember a friend of mine who had prayed for years for a husband and children. As the years went by, she watched each of her friends get married and start their families. Initially I was worried about how she would react to all this, but surprisingly she showed such genuine joy and enthusiasm for everybody. She loved hanging out with the babies and always gave the best gifts. Guess how happy we all were when it was finally her turn. She is happily married now and with a wonderful daughter. I don’t know if things would have turned out the same or not if she had had a different attitude, but I do know that she saved herself years of heart ache and bitterness. She maintained her good attitude and ultimately got what she wanted too. At the end of the day, we do have a choice. We may not be able to influence what life throws at us, but we can decide to be happy in spite of the challenges we face.
5. Never give up
I jokingly tell people sometimes that the day you give up on life is the day you decide to die. It is never too late. Some of the problems we face in life are of our own doing and some of them just happen to us. But we can never give up. There is always hope for a new day. I enjoyed the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” in which Will Smith’s character persevered through every adversity and was ultimately successful. There are so many people in life who quit just before life turns in their favor and settle and then start complaining about how unfair life is. Once you still have life and breath in you, why don’t you decide every day to do your best? It is not that much harder to do after all.
Even as we go through the challenges that life invariably throws at us sometimes, it’s normal to be upset and express your emotion, but not to stay stuck there. Persevere in all you do and even as you wait for your dreams to unfold, reach out and help other people and always remember to have an attitude of gratitude for your life and for the blessings in other people’s lives. No situation in life is permanent and it is only a matter of time before you find yourself smiling again.