It kindof stinks to know the best lessons I have learned in life came through my times of struggle. One thing I have become very grateful for is that I do not know the future. If I had known in advance how long I was going to suffer through some of the trials I have faced, I would have been convinced there was no way I could do it. It took me three full years to come out of the fog of grief I entered when I lost my sister. Three years is a long time to endure heartache. I am glad I didn't know that was coming.
I have learned I am far stronger than I ever would have imagined. My faith held fast every single time I had to pick myself up - and I did it. God did it. Some of the problems I have had to deal with were my own fault. I have learned I can admit that, do my best to fix them, and go on. God’s mercy has taught me so much. It is easy to beat myself up again and again for things I have done wrong, but He forgives me and lets them go - and that assurance has allowed me to forgive myself and move forward. Yes, I have made mistakes and sometimes my mistakes, or bad decisions, made things worse for me. But no, I do not wallow in those things - or continue to blame myself for my failures. I am human - therefore I am not perfect. I am free to admit that and move forward with my life.
I have learned that difficult times pass. Pain eases. Jobs become available. Life gets better. I learned the importance of letting people go. I can’t be defined by an image I want someone else to have or held back by what another person might think. I can’t let the fear of the unknown stop me from following the path I must take. I learned my courage, my hopes, my dreams, my life and everything I am are deeply molded and formed by my consistency in prayer and faith in God. I learned He never disappoints, even when life does.
I learned people can let me down and hurt me, but I only hurt myself further when I dwell in that pain and nurse it to bitterness. I cannot let their ill intentions define who I am. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE deserves to be forgiven. I learned that doesn't mean I have to be best friends with people who make me uncomfortable or who have hurt me in the past, but I do have to free my heart from carrying grudges against them. And often, if I am honest with myself, the people who have hated and hurt me the most have also launched me into becoming a better person, closer to God, and stronger overall. Sometimes their actions have even put me on a different path entirely that I didn't expect or want to travel, but in the end has actually been better than anything I could have imagined before.
I have learned to face obstacles without becoming discouraged (at least not for long) and losing hope. I have learned the importance of being open to change - in my life situation, in my self, in the people around me. I have learned to embrace the impossible, because when I try to do what people tell me cannot be done it becomes an exercise of my faith, intellect, gifts and abilities and suddenly I become aware of what it is to be fully alive.
I have learned to savor the good things in my life. I cherish times with my children and my family, and I treasure those times in my heart. I held my new nephew for the first time last week. I laid him out on my lap for the longest time and we just stared into each other’s eyes for several blessed minutes. I absorbed that moment - it was precious and beautiful and will be with me always. I slept in my sister’s guest house at night with my two youngest daughters. I would just lay and listen to them talk and laugh together and my heart swelled with love and joy for having those moments.
I learned in the deepest, darkest times when it seemed there was no way I could ever get relief from my debts, my heartaches, my troubles, or my fears - there was always a spark of hope to be found somewhere around me. I have learned sometimes I have to actively seek it out - and dig deep to find it, but it is always there. My hope has been renewed by watching the sun rise and set. It has blossomed through laughter with a friend. I have found hope in a walk or exercise or in helping someone else. I found hope in learning new things, like fishing with Sarah and how to operate a mobile kitchen. There is hope in giving and hope in receiving. There is hope in knowing troubled times pass. There is hope when I love, and hope when I dream. There is hope in letting go of the material and experiencing the supernatural. There is hope because sometimes the impossible happens when I least expect it.
I have learned a lot.