Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

     I think someone once said that life is supposed to be challenging. Well, yes, the statement is true enough.  But, somehow, many of us believe that things should go smoothly a good part of the time.  Most of us work towards this end, and we count on it.  Then, when life goes awry, we’re upset, angry, and disappointed.  We dread challenges and vexation.  I’ll be the first to admit that I work very hard to keep my life on course.  I’m an “all your ducks in a row” kinda girl.  I follow the rules, keep my word, and act decently–treating others as I would like to be treated.  I basically over-analyze most situations, teasing out the pros and cons before making a decision.  However, despite my good intentions and best efforts, challenging stuff still happens.

     Maybe, if we modified our view of challenging circumstances as a normal part of life, we wouldn’t be so surprised and upset when they occurred.  Also, what if we stopped interpreting the stuff that happens as positive or negative.  It’s happening, let’s try to accept it, and move through it.  You know, let’s stop judging the stuff.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  On the surface, some stuff looks pretty negative–even devastating at times. Which brings me to a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert that I absolutely love:  “Ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation.” What if the challenges we’re facing are part of our journey and a bridge to where we need to go to become our best selves?  This is when we must have faith and believe in our ability to navigate challenging situations with strength, competence, and grace. After all, it’s when we’re knocked out of our comfort zones and challenged that we discover who we truly are and grow.

     You may be wondering where I’m going with all of this.  Well, like most everyone, I’ve been knocked out of my comfort zone a number of times in life, and it isn’t easy.  However, it’s during these challenging times that I’ve come to know myself better.  I’ve learned more about my strengths, limitations, beliefs, priorities, courage, and……my humanity.  It’s in these moments that I’ve taken stock of what really matters, and I’m grateful for the relationships, experiences, and accomplishments I’m fortunate to have in my life.  Then I see that my challenges have been part of the journey.  And, if I changed any part of it, my life would be different, I would be different.

     So, perhaps as Ms. Gilbert says, ruin IS a gift—part of a higher power’s plan or the universe tweaking our course to ensure we’re heading in the right direction.  I’ve really come to embrace this idea.  I don’t believe in coincidences anymore.  I think the people we meet and the experiences we have are meant to be—meant to teach us something about ourselves and our places in the world.  There have been too many people and experiences that have come into my life that have been providential for me to think otherwise. For instance, about three years ago, I was experiencing so much anxiety that at times I could hardly breathe.  I was struggling. And, I see now, that the anxiety was a catalyst—my body’s way of telling me that I needed to make changes.  Changes I couldn’t face at the time.  Nevertheless, something amazing started happening. More and more, I began crossing paths with people who, unbeknownst to them, inspired me and lifted me up.  I am so very thankful for these people who reached out with their kindness and friendship, offering encouragement, affection, and support—especially, when I needed it most.  I don’t know any other way to put it, other than their love and light transformed me, giving me the strength and courage I needed to move forward.  Although the experience I described appears positive in nature, it’s important to remember that challenging events—however negatively we perceive them, often turn out to be favorable in the end.

     Here’s the thing:  We’re so eager to identify something we deem positive as good fortune or a blessing.  But, what if the other stuff was something positive in disguise? What if EVERYTHING, whether positive or negative—every person, every experience, and every situation that came into our lives was a gift?  A gift that was meant to teach us something about ourselves.  Now, that would be something worth embracing!


  1. Interesting timing.

    I live in a house that I have told my wife was built by Noah’s incompetent neighbor. If we have a problem it is water related. Waterheaters burst, pressure relief valves blow, we’ve replaced our entire sewage line twice (in 34 years). Yesterday the relief valve blew on a new water heater and the diaphragm in the expansion tank ruptured (not sure which caused which). The heater design is so new that the plumber doesn’t have a new relief valve for it, will be 2 weeks where we have to empty the bucket that is catching the water, and they won’t replace the expansion tank until then, claiming both need replaced at the same time. To top things off, there is a box around the supply lines and the expansion tank that the plumber wants me to remove before he can replace it. Why? He doesn’t think he can remove the tank with the box around it, even though the box was there when the tank was last replaced. A full weekends work removing paneling, 2x4s, etc., then another weeken reinstalling them.

    Yes, interesting timing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry! How very frustrating. We live in a really old house, and there is always something that needs repair. But for you to have all of this to deal with at once is a lot. A few years ago, Farmguy and I were preparing to go on vacation. The week before we left, our favorite sheep severely injured his knee. The vet came out, and we had to confine Clover to the barn for 6 weeks. Then, there was a summer storm that blew a tile up on the roof of our house, causing rain damage to the ceiling and wall. Last but not least, the refrigerator stopped working properly. I was really stressed out before we left, but I felt grateful that these things had happened while we were still home and able to address them. I realized later what a blessing these inconveniences had been when a derecho wind storm came through the day we were flying home. I can’t imagine what the damage would have been if we hadn’t repaired the roof earlier. Best wishes with your repairs. Thinking of you and your wife. 🙂 🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and that quote resonates beautifully. You are so right – if we accept rather than resist the things that throw up in our lives we have far more chance of coming out the other side not just in one piece but enhanced by the experience. Embracing the bumps in the road is not easy but it can turn the rough road into a growing experience. This was a lovely post. Thank. You.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a great way of looking at things and yes it’s true, perhaps we should all think a little more like this. When we work hard at something the reward is so much sweeter. By the way I love the photo of the horse with his big white blaze.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. Thinking this way can be somewhat difficult at first. However, the more we practice, the easier it becomes. Sometimes, it’s just about letting go and having faith.

      The photo was taken in the Cotswolds this summer at Hook Norton Brewery.


  4. Beautiful. A lot of my studies has been talking about this. All is good and for the good, we are limited in our understanding of the bigger picture. In the simplest aspect of the day, The Creator and creation sings to us only a lovely song! We can choose to carry joy with us all the time and bring a smile to another and learn from every circumstance!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The best life lessons often come at the worst times. This quote, from Mary Oliver, resonates with me for a lifetime….

    “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I broke a finger (well shattered is more like it) on the second day of our 8-day 20th anniversary vacation a few weeks ago and I didn’t bat an eye. Vacation is too fun to let a silly broken finger ruin your vacay. And I’ve learned some really unique one-handed skills I never knew I had!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are very inspirational. I have had some hard times a few years ago. If I did not look to the positive view of the future I do not think I would be where I am today. It is hard to stay positive around negative people. I had to make up my mind and set a goal to accomplish to keep my positive mind. Now I am happier than I have been for a long time. Keep sharing positive attitude we all need it.

    Liked by 1 person

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