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!