You’re so strong, God wouldn’t give me this kind of challenge. He knows I couldn’t handle it!
I’ve heard that frequently, these last two years, with a son in chemotherapy for lymphoma and a husband in the hospital for 9 months with Guillain-Barre. I’ve decided that these statements are the 21st century version of making the sign of the cross to ward off evil spirits. Like that gesture, people seem to believe that if they state loudly or frequently enough that they can’t handle the tough times, God will get the message not to allow illness or tragedy into their lives.
I don’t know why tough times happen. Figuring out why they happen is much less important to me than how to get through them. Having a belief system that offers possibilities for growth, even transformation during tough times has helped me navigate through some pretty rough seas over these last two years.
I believe, like Einstein, in a friendly universe. For me, that entails a God who loves and cherishes us, who doesn’t cause pain or illness but stands ready to support us and to help us find meaning and growth when tough times hit.
I believe that a support system is a necessary blessing. We are all connected and those connections provide us strength when our own resources are a little wobbly. Letting others enfold us in their love enriches our lives and theirs.
I believe that we have control, even in the midst of tough times. We can control our thoughts—whether they center on hope or pessimism. We can control whom we choose to be when faced with tough times—compassionate and present or anxious and withdrawn.
I believe that in every tough time there is a potential river of gold. Like miners, we have to be willing to spend the time panning through the mud of the experience to separate the dross of fear from the nuggets of gold that can come out of living through tough times–transformation, love, spiritual growth, healing, and gratitude.
As I go through these tough times, I am prompted to ask myself questions about the choices I am making as a spiritual being on an Earth journey. How often am I being the person I have within me to be? How often am I staying conscious and present, choosing to live with love and faith? How frequently do I let anxiety and fear run my life? To what extent am I trusting my friendly universe or trying to handle it all myself?
I don’t know why tough times happen. I do know that when they do (and they will, to all of us), we have choices to make. I choose to stay conscious as much as possible, to be intentional in my thoughts and interactions as often as I can, and to believe in the power of love.
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