“Sometimes we must experience the low points in life in order to learn lessons we wouldn’t have learned any other way.” – Unknown
The other day as I stood in the mirror and washed my face I took a moment to reflect on my life. I thought about what I’ve been through, what I’m currently facing today and the many lessons I have learned and continue to learn. Some lessons I feel as if I have mastered, while others not so much. There are situations I never thought that I would face, and others I thought I would have handled differently, whether more maturely, with more wisdom or with more courage. There are those circumstances that brought me shame, embarrassment, while others literally caused me to finally see the light or at minimum take the necessary steps to begin to face the light, which was usually a representation of truth that I chose to ignore or deny. Today as I stand (in that mirror) I am grateful for every lesson, every let down and disappointment that I have encountered. Not because I enjoy pain and suffering, but because of what I received while enduring the hardship. I received lessons that not only will I carry for the remainder of my life, but also will put into action should a familiar scenario arise. At times I feel like a child in a classroom waiting for my teacher (life) to give me my next assignment. How will I do? Will I fail, cower in a corner somewhere or press through the task at hand? Those answers truly lie in what I have actually learned. No words can predict how I will respond, for the answers are in the actions I take versus the words I choose to eloquently use.
It is so easy for people to say what they will never do, but many of us were simply never placed in a situation to see how we would really respond or react. It’s not that we are living a lie, because we honestly hold true to our convictions, it’s just given a specific circumstance, how we always believed we would handle a situation, tragedy or major life set back suddenly doesn’t line up with those convictions. We may find ourselves in a quandary, questioning everything that we ever learned or stood for, but my life experiences have taught me that is not the time to question anything, just go through it and come to an understanding that perhaps your ideas, beliefs or even faith needed more support, work and authentication.
It’s in these times that we have the choice to either tighten the loose areas of our faith, revisit what we believe and why or go back to the drawing board and rediscover who we are. The option to keep things as they are will most certainly bring more frustration in your life. What I have also learned is these three options that I just mentioned do not necessarily have to represent a negative or bad thing occurring in your life. They may be the very thing required to get you motivated to finally begin to address those lifelong pangs, issues and unspoken words that have lied dormant for years in your heart and mind. Unfortunately most of us have been so conditioned by religion (not God), empty traditions and vain ideas that really lead to nothing but living a life of compliance to rules made by man, that we have difficulty distinguishing what we truly believe in our hearts versus what we believe based on someone else’s truth. Sometimes it’s the pain in our lives that can become the very life-preserver we need to recognize that we are drowning in our own doubt, lack of faith and belief. It is during this time that we must have the courage to desire more for our lives, for our present as well as for our future. This courage will cause you to ask tough questions of yourself and others. Questions like:
1. Why have I settled for less in my personal relationships all of my life?
2. Why do I naturally take a backseat when it comes taking the lead with something?
3. Do I really believe in God or am I pretending so no one ridicules me?
4. Am I really as strong as I proclaim to be, then why does it feel like I’m not?
5. How come I cannot get over the guilt of my past?
When we are finally able to ask these types of questions of ourselves, we are then on our way to becoming whole and living our truth. They our tough questions, hence the term “doing the work” is coined here. This is what it looks like to do the hard work of discovery, analysis and meaningful understanding. This work may require professional help for a considerable length of time, but your commitment to you is at stake here. Don’t quit or become fearful of what you may discover as you journey down the path. Give yourself grace and the license to feel afraid, angry and even regretful, while equally recognizing that remaining in that place is not only not healthy for you, but contrary to the ultimate goal. The goal is to learn the lesson of why and discover the answers of what. What will I do next after finally learning about why I’ve even done it? Here is where we must become like that kid at the desk committed to learning the new lesson.
So where does your life fit in all of this? What type of student were you? Were you at the front of the class eager to learn while raising your hand to answer questions, or were you in the back of the class, not paying attention and oblivious to whatever was being taught? Now is your time to become that student once more, well hopefully a better student. Only difference is class is really never over, the bell to leave class will never happen, for the school of life is always open. Life is a great teacher if we decide to listen and make the necessary adjustments along the way that are directly tied to what we’re learning or what we have learned. The emptiness and negative repetitious reactions can finally cease when we begin to glance in the mirror of our souls and realize that perhaps some of the struggles that we have endured were in part self-inflicted, whether due to ignorance or blind disregard. Regardless of why we find ourselves repeating lessons, the results tend to be the same; you in turmoil…alone. There are some lessons that I truly wish to never repeat nor wish them on my worst enemy, so I do the work, learn the lessons, and ask the questions to obtain the answers I need to live a full life. One without regrets, yet with truth while still allowing myself to fail, fall short and be imperfect.
I strive for perfection, while living an imperfect life. I seek to live my truth, yet I may come upon darkness along the way. I seek the answers to be better, while still making mistakes, but I am whole because my life is no longer one of shadows or fragmentations. I accept who I am today and continue with much prayer to remain on the journey towards my best life.