I’ve spent a lot of time writing about perseverance, about how we face difficult times and find ways of getting through them. I’ve had experience with the storms and have come to understand that I am who I am because of what I’ve been through. This post from 2015 speaks to that a bit, that even though things are difficult in the moment, or even for a while, the hard times don’t last always.
Forty Days Day 7–Trouble Don’t Last Always
The other day a coworker was teasing me about how bundled up I was as I was about to leave the office and head out into subzero weather. I was so wrapped up in my hat and two scarves that one could barely see my face. I probably looked a bit ridiculous, but that wind was no joke. I remarked back to my colleague that the bad weather really isn’t going to last that much longer, and that spring really is a matter of a few weeks, maybe a month away. It’s hard to believe when you’re measuring wind chills in the tens of degrees below zero. And even though the groundhog saw his shadow (who came up with that idea?) predicting six more weeks of winter, by my estimation that means that by mid-March we can look forward to spring.
Sometimes when we’re in the midst of the storms of our lives, facing significant challenges and hardships it feels like there’s no way out, like what’s happening to us will never come to an end. And yet, I can guarantee with a fair degree certainty that many of the situations and issues that confront us in this moment most certainly will end one way or another and that life will go on. Spring always comes after the long, dark, cold of winter.
I can remember after my mother’s funeral sitting in the limo as we drove toward the cemetery for the burial. I gazed dully out the window, watching people going about their normal business: shopping, strolling, here and there, blithely living their lives. I found myself thinking, “What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you know my mother is dead and I am devastated?” I even had the nerve to be angry at the sun for rising that morning on such a clear, beautiful late spring day. At one point in my life I believed I wouldn’t be able to function if my mother were to die. I was much younger then and my mother was practically the center of my universe as a child. In dramatic childlike fashion I thought I would never be happy again after my mother died, though even as I thought it I knew it wasn’t true.
Such is the way of humans when we are confronted with those issues that we seem to be unable to comprehend, and we believe we will in fact not get through them in one piece. And yet, somehow we do. Even people who have suffered great losses, who have been faced with atrocities, who have experienced unimaginable situations, even for them these things come to an end and for many of them they find a way through to some degree of acceptance and healing.
“Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Sometimes the night is very, very long and many mornings may pass–months, even years–before something resembling joy comes. But after the pain, grief, sorrow, illness, anger, all the many states that we go through after a trauma, there does at some point come an easing. I think there is a resiliency of the human spirit, a natural buoyancy that we have the doesn’t permit us to stay eternally stuck in a dark, stormy, negative state of mind. This is perhaps not 100% true for everyone, but it has been my experience.
These 40 days commemorate a difficult time in the life of one individual and an entire people. As an individual I can relate to the mental suffering experienced by one facing a single or multiple sources of trauma. One of the strategies I used to cope with a series of losses I experienced a few years ago was to come out of myself enough to reach out to others. I knew that while my situation felt difficult and challenging, I could keep my misfortunes from overwhelming me by reaching out to and helping others who had it even harder than I did. How we approach these situations goes a long way toward helping us to recover and heal from them.
It may be hard to imagine when the wind is howling and cutting through your clothing that the warm breezes of spring and the gentle showers of April really are just around the corner. If I am can wait with some measure of patience, I know that hard times will ease and pass. And so it goes.