Feeling overwhelmed is common to all of us. Most of us have experienced times and seasons where the circumstances in our lives make it seem impossible for us to get through them gracefully and emotionally intact. Life is hard at times.
I love listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “Count Your Blessings.” This popular hymn teaches a great truth.
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Even listening to the soothing music is calming.
Recently my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. Her entire extended family have each reeled through their reactions of shock and grief. I too have reached into my quiver of coping mechanism arrows to try and defeat the lethargy and spiraling despair.
For me, the first step in counting my blessings is to recognize the blessing. It may not immediately appear as a blessing in my life. I have learned that events and circumstances in our lives can be great blessings even if they are hard to bear. The difficult life lessons that we experience can become our greatest teachers and thereby the catalyst for personal change thus we discover that we have grown.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined the phrase, “Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.” It is from the “Maxims and Arrows” section of Nietzsche’s book, Twilight of the the Idols (1888). It is usually translated into English as “what does not kill me makes me stronger.” A well-known quote, it is found in many places, including the lyrics of a popular song by Kelly Clarkson.
Do a Google search on “hardship and personal growth.” It is an amazing exercise and you will find incredible resources. There are scholarly articles, blogs, youtube videos, TED talks. The list goes on and on.
By definition, hardship is hard. If we are going to survive it, we do need to find ways to navigate the rough waters in our lives. Practicing techniques such as counting our blessings, meditation and relaxation, will help us avoid allowing the storm to create an emotional whirlpool that becomes a vortex dragging us down.
I am grateful for the many reminders this past week of previous lessons I have learned. Some of them are: family support is healing, hugs are therapeutic, laughter and tears can both bring emotional release and sleep is crucial. What have you learned from your difficult days?
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