Finding Strength Through Adversity
It' been said that what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. That may not always be the case, but it is true that we often don't realize just what we're capable of until we're truly challenged.
Life is good at throwing curveballs our way. Sometimes we can handle them with relative ease, but other times the challenge is much greater. In fact, every now and then we're hit with something that seems impossible, something that we're convinced we can't handle, something that will break our spirits, and that we won't be able to escape unharmed.
Anyone who has experienced something of this nature can probably tell you that they also have a habit of hitting you at the worst possible times. You've just lost your job and a week later you get a foreclosure notice. Now you're afraid that you're days away from becoming homeless. Or perhaps you just found out that you're pregnant after years of trying unsuccessfully. Your family is finally coming together when you get into a car accident and have a miscarriage. Then to add insult to injury your husband is diagnosed with a terminal disease. Days ago your dreams were coming true and now you feel like you're losing everything.
When something like this happens it's natural to become depressed, angry, distraught, confused, or just plain devastated. You may be wondering why this is happening and if you'll make it through. Maybe it's not your spouse, but yourself that's been diagnosed with that terminal disease. You wonder if you'll survive, if you'll ever see the birth of your first grandchild. You wonder if you'll be able to manage the treatment, if you can afford it, and if you'll be able to get through it physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually.
But many times those things that we thought were impossible are not. Many times those things that we're convinced were meant to break us, build us up, making us stronger than ever. That which was supposed to destroy us doesn't. Instead it teaches us. Instead it grows our character. Instead it makes us a better person than we were previously.
That job loss may have been a blessing in disguise, because now you're free to find a better job, with better co-workers, a shorter commute, and a larger paycheck. That car accident may have made you a safer driver, which in turn could've prevented several others accidents that you otherwise would have been involved in, each of which could've been worse that the original accident.
Facing foreclosure or bankruptcy may be devastating in the moment, but when you come out of it you may find that you have a much better grasp of and control over your finances. You no longer go into debt indiscriminately. You find that you actually have more spending money and a greater sense of peace not stressing about bills all the time and worrying if your power, heat, gas, phone, etc. is about to get turned off.
Moving last year only to lose your home to a fire may have been tragic at the time, but may also have led to a miracle as you watched your new community gather around to support your recovery. Some people may have offered you a place to stay. Other provided new clothes or prepared food. Suddenly you realize that instead of being all alone in this new town that you actually have an abundance of friends right in your own backyard.
Being diagnosed with a terminal condition may not seem like it can have any positives to it. It may feel like your time on Earth is limited and you're helpless to do anything about it. But the truth is that the same was true yesterday. Your time on Earth has always been limited.
Perhaps this diagnosis can teach you to treasure the time you have left in a way that you never did before. Perhaps it can do the same for someone close to you. After all, is it better to live to 100 having never really lived at all or to die at 35 having lived life to its fullest?
The other thing that happens when we overcome seemingly impossible odds is that we begin to have less stress and anxiety. We begin to realize that other things that were once so monumental are actually trivial. That pimple on your forehead, not having the newest clothes or the right brand of shoes to fit in with your friends, being shorter or taller, heavier or thinner than you'd like to be, living in the "wrong town", not having the "right degree", being single, not being promoted or getting elected... these things that in the moment may have felt like a really big deal suddenly begin to feel much less significant.
Overcoming the seemingly impossible helps teach us to appreciate all that we have, realizing that tomorrow it could all be taken away without a moment's notice. It can also help us to grow our character, learning to treat others with more respect and be more sensitive to the things that they may have been through or are currently experiencing.
If you're in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds right now, please don't misconstrue this article as trivializing your predicament. What you're experiencing right now is not easy and it may very well be the hardest thing that you've ever faced in your life. But keep moving forward. Don't give up. Stay strong. Keep fighting.
You may not think you have enough in you to make it through the day. Then don't worry abut the rest of the day. Just focus on this moment. Take it day by day, hour by hour, or minute by minute if you have to. One moment at a time is all we can experience anyway, even when things are at their best.