365 Grateful: Rising From Challenge

365 Grateful 03-28-2020I have a habit of connecting with deep, thoughtful questions. Generative questions. Questions that make you pull something out of yourself and launch you on an ongoing quest to understand and learn about yourself, about others, about the world around you.

Consequently, when I see or hear one, I try to capture it. Here’s one that hit me between the eyes today, from a Facebook post in The Art of Hosting (thanks to Mira Bangel from SenseTribe Consulting):

“When life gave you a challenge and you rose from it,
what did you learn from that time that stays with you now?”

Let that sink in for a moment or two. Roll it around in your mind. Reach deeply. What changed you – and continues to inform you today?

I think it’s important to think about, talk about, and understand the answers to these kinds of questions. In this time of Coronavirus, it’s also poignantly appropriate. The trauma of this period will leave a global mark. Every person living today – and who emerges once this crisis is under control – will never be the same. Part of it will be due to the constant barrage of information overload, which goes a long way toward creating repeated trauma for us all (by the way, here’s a solution for maintaining mental health wellness).

When we rise from this challenge (and most of us will), what will we have learned that will stay with us for the rest of our lives? It’s a great question.

In 2009, I thought my marriage was over. And only two months into the angst of that time, I rose from that challenge. The experience is seared into my memory. Standing in the computer room, facing my husband, I hit a point where hurt, anger, and fear faded … and my backbone turned to steel. I honestly have no other way to describe it. I figuratively and literally felt my spine straighten, strengthen, and solidify. And from that point, I rose from that challenge knowing I could choose my reactions and move one step at a time through any situation, challenging or not. And we both did.

What I’d risen with, I now know, was the basis of constructive living: “accept your feelings, know your purpose, do what needs to be done.” (The ToDo Institute explains it well as a combination of Morita and Naikan therapies.)

Since then, I’ve leaned upon that moment of rising out of challenge until it’s now simply the way I am. Let me show you the progression:

  • In early 2018, my husband died following a year-long battle with lung cancer. About two weeks after his diagnosis – two weeks of sleepwalking through daily life – I once again felt my backbone stiffen. And I remembered what I’d risen with in 2009, and it only took me two weeks.
  • In late 2018, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, which launched me into a period of wallowing in self pity – but (surprise!) for only 24 hours! – before I remembered and applied what I’d learned.

In this time where normal is in flux and the path you’re walking has morphed from paved and smooth to overgrown and rough, what can you call upon to sustain you? When have you overcome something before and what did you do? These questions are perfect for strengthening us, for showing us that, yes, indeed, we DO have within us the capacity and the tools for handling challenging times in our lives.

This question is also resonant for all those who will celebrate Easter in a few short weeks, however shadowed by Coronavirus fears. Christian or not, imagine what would have risen from that experience for all those involved? Life-changing for many, even if it’s just a switch in perspective.

So I offer this question to you, in whatever challenging places you find yourself today. Dig deeply and ask yourself and others:

“When life gave you a challenge and you rose from it,
what did you learn from that time that stays with you now?”

Blessed be.

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