Rather than simply telling us what something IS, adversity forces us to experience what it’s NOT. That’s why the lessons stick. Because the price we pay for learning them is a high one.
Hardships come in different sizes.
We all face hardships in life. As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, adversity is something we can count on.
Some trials happen naturally and we quickly discover how NOT in control we are. Natural disasters, illness, and death are like that. Clearly, they happen whether we want them to or not. Further, they affect young and old, rich and poor, all of us without prejudice or discrimination.
Others occur on the heels of social, economic, and political upheaval. Like natural disasters, current events impact our lives whether we want them to or not. Likewise, we have very little control over when and how they occur. War, crime, and the recent pandemic make just how little influence we actually have on the world stage abundantly clear.
Then, there are the hardships and struggles that happen closer to home affecting us, and those closest to us, in intimate and devastating ways. Things like financial strain, struggling relationships, divorce, mental illness, abuse, and addiction, destroy lives, families, and souls.
Our personal struggles teach us the most. Perhaps because they require us to look inward, to really see ourselves without the blinders we usually wear, and to go deeper than the surface we spend the majority of our life protecting.
Adversity demands a lot from us, but it also teaches us a lot too. The wisdom we gain from suffering is the same wisdom that, if we accept and apply it, helps us heal.
Hindsight and perspective are wonderful, terrible things.
As I’ve progressed in my recovery journey, I’ve realized many things. Some of them made sense right away. Others took longer. And then there are the things that pretty much knocked me over the head.
Mostly because I’d heard them before and chose not to listen. I wasn’t ready. When I finally did listen and gradually grew to understand them, I wondered why it had taken me so long and so much pain to finally grasp them. Listening would have made things so much easier.
Of all the lessons adversity has taught me, one stands out. Its impact made the most immediate and transformative difference. It changed everything and it wasn’t difficult to figure out. Not once all the fog had cleared, anyway. It was also the most difficult to accept.
So much of my pain and suffering was preventable.
I could’ve prevented it. In doing so, I could’ve also prevented the pain and suffering my family endured because of me. Because, it really came down to this one thing: On the very short list of things I actually can control, choice is at the very top. And for a long time, I made the wrong ones, over and over again.
Viewing my life and myself through the unforgiving lens of perspective brought everything into really sharp focus. All of it, the good, the bad, and the devastating. That’s the beauty and the curse of hindsight. For, just as adversity teaches, hindsight solidifies the lesson.
Wisdom comes when we’ve suffered enough.
Enough to what? Enough to realize that we’re choosing to.
It’s through trial if we’re blessed enough to survive, that we earn wisdom and are given the opportunity to grow. These lessons are revealed to us throughout our lives. However, until we’re ready, we don’t fully understand their power.
Until we place our focus on the reward we’ll receive for letting go of what they’re not rather the cost we’ll pay for accepting what they are nothing will change. Including ourselves.
With wisdom comes acceptance and healing.
When I finally accepted the reality of my suffering, freed from my perceptions of it, the lessons I’d learned guided me.
First, they altered my thinking and therefore, my choices and my actions. Then, they inspired honesty, compassion, and forgiveness, not just in my relationships with others, but also with myself. Most of all, they gave me hope and brought the faith that had always existed within me to the forefront.
The lessons adversity has taught me are really quite simple. Once I accepted and applied them, I quickly understood that it’s their simplicity that changes everything. Truly, they’re not as difficult as we make them out to be, but their impact is immediate.
Moreover, with the perspective they’ve provided, I’ve finally come to understand and value the journey, as difficult as it has been. For, without the storms, I never would’ve needed the lessons and without the lessons, I never would’ve survived the storms.
How long did it take? 51 years. What did it take? Hitting rock bottom, where instead of the ending I feared, I found the beginning I was too afraid to believe in. What changed? Absolutely everything.