Here I am on day four wondering what on earth got into me when I decided to write a sixth Lenten blog. This happens to me every year, but somehow I manage to muddle through it. I have a small but very loyal following whom I don’t want to disappoint, so I will keep supplying these offerings, old and new, for their and my own pleasure. Tonight is continuing my streak of previous posts. I offer this evening’s selection that focuses on recovering from calamity and growth in the midst of challenge. Enjoy.
From The Next Forty Days, Day 17–Life in Reverse
The year that was 2011 was exceedingly difficult: my relationship with my significant other ended, I lost my job, and lost my home and had to move. I had lost my father in September of the previous year. It was not a good time. But that was five years ago, and a lot can happen in that period of time. With the grace of god, the support and assistance of family and friends, and my own determination and resilience, I was slowly able to pull myself together and begin to heal and recover from all the loss I had experienced in that challenging time. The other day I began to realize that everything I lost is gradually being restored. It’s like living life in reverse of what it had been, though I wasn’t going back to exactly where I’d been, I was returning to something better.
I can’t say I fully understand how this works, but I am more grateful than I can say. Life will always have its challenges, its ups and downs; that much you can count on. So when I experienced what felt like blow after blow, for a time I was understandably reeling. So much of my life was tied up in the major areas of loss: love, employment and income, home and a sense of place, of belonging to a place, family, and my overall sense of safety and security. But through it all, some things remained clear–I was bruised and broken, but not beaten. In spite of everything, I still had a strong spiritual belief: I knew things would get better. I knew in my core that I had the perseverance and resilience to stand strong in the midst of all that was happening and come through it, somehow, with a sense of peace, calm, and equanimity.
Now don’t get me wrong–some days I totally lost it. I cried, I stressed out, worrying about how on earth I was going to keep from being swallowed up by the fear and angst brought about by my financial and emotional situation. But even on the hard days, I was able, each day to pull something positive into it, even if I had to drag it up from the depths of my misery. I was going to find something good. So I began to focus intentionally on the many (many) things for which I was grateful. In spite of all the drama and trauma that had befallen me, I recognized how very blessed I still was. I could resist the fear that would occasionally assail me because I knew that everything would be alright in the end.
And so it has been. In the five years since the calamities began, the challenges I faced have subsided, and so much of what I lost has been restored. What has been the greatest gift is that it has been perseverance, persistence, patience, and resilience that has allowed me to move up and on for the first time in a long, long time. In the midst of difficulties is when you learn what you’re made of, and while I don’t wish ill fortune on anyone, it seems to me that how you respond to it likely affects what you get out of it and perhaps even how long it lasts and how severe it is.
During these 40 days, when so much emphasis is on suffering and death and solemnity, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on how one deals with difficulty, hopefully with strength and grace, with the occasional meltdown. It is part of the human condition and has been part of my journey. I am grateful for it and for the wisdom it has woven through the tapestry of my life. Life in reverse doesn’t necessarily mean going backward. In my case, it has meant anything but.
Published 29 February 2016