“It’s not WHAT happens to you that counts, it’s HOW you deal with it.”
This was a direct quote from my father, who often quoted his father, while giving me advice as I was growing up. I believe my cousin Ben even used this quote in his high school valedictory address. Our family motto comes from Romans, but I’ll call this a Thompson family mantra.
Dealing with life’s difficulties is something we’ve all experienced. A breakup that ends a long, serious relationship. A divorce that happens when you never envisioned your marriage not succeeding. Making one decision that affected your life more than you ever imagined, good OR bad. Losing a loved one to a terminal illness. We all have trials – but how do we learn from them, and use them to grow and learn more about ourselves? When we decide to put one foot in front of the other – how do we attempt to move it in the RIGHT direction? Sometimes it comes with age (they say wisdom comes with age, right?). How we deal with the whoas of life shape us into the person we are today, tomorrow, and the person our children may grow to be as they learn from our reactions (my toughest pill to swallow these days).
I’m the world’s WORST at overreacting to my children when they fall and hurt themselves. The worry of what I might walk into (busted lip, missing tooth, broken arm, etc) is the biggest reason why. The fear of the unknown. But what about the fear of the KNOWN? When problems arise in our lives, do we run from them? Cope in negative ways? Or can we dig deep and use these roadblocks to reveal a stronger version of ourselves? I had two incidents happen within 5 days of each other (not long ago) that left me feeling confused, shocked and in many ways hopeless. None were life threatening, thank the good Lord, but still were things that shook up my every day routine and life. Before that, there were “happenings” within our school that involved parents (ugh, let’s just leave it to the kids and teachers I found myself saying) that was also very “nerve wrecking” for me. I felt that good ole’ feeling of “when it rains, it pours.”
I asked myself over and over again, “What have I done wrong?” “How could I have done this better?” “How could this have been avoided?” I was sitting in the floor and just prayed. We all have “self talk.” I mostly experience it when I’m driving, doing house chores, or putting my girls to bed (rocking, scratching backs or rubbing heads). I’ve learned to turn that self talk into prayer. That particular day I prayed for strength. I knew the feeling of “when it rains it pours” all too well, and I asked God to lift that burden off my shoulders because I could no longer carry the weight. I’ve had a lot of coaching over the years from my parents, my friends, and now David. We all need that person or those people who tell us that life isn’t always going to work out the way we hope it will. To remind us to take a moment and look at the blessings in our lives. I think we will find that they FAR outweigh the bad. We are human, and focusing on the negative is a very automatic reaction. Not letting those negative feelings win is when life’s blessings reveal themselves.
We recently lost a family friend and church member in a farming accident. His wife, my choir director and leader of the children’s church programs, texted me that morning as a reminder me to turn the clock forward so the children would be on time for Sunday’s performance. It wasn’t hours later, that her husband unexpectedly passed away. When she woke up that morning, she had no idea it would be her last day with him. A week later at his funeral, I left the service wanting to be a better person. Feeling inspired by his life, and the fact that he never reached the finish line but always set goals. A former US Marine, retired sergeant for Virginia State Police and then farmer – he certainly witnessed hardships and had some of his own. However, he was known to never be pessimistic. He lived each day to the fullest, and his final act was tending to his flock. My sweet friends, life can change so quickly. I believe everyone’s stress is relative, and nobody’s problems are any worse (or better) than the next person’s. However, if we can compartmentalize our worries and challenges, dealing with them can become so much easier. Go take a walk, and look at the blue sky above you. Soak in the bath with a glass of wine. Hop on the treadmill or spin bike and pound those machines as hard as you can. VENT to somebody who won’t judge you! Albert Einstein said, “in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” Be one of those who smiles even when it’s raining (POURING). I’ll keep trying my best with you – because better days are always ahead.