Lessons from Adversity - Contemplative Journal

Lessons from Adversity

Lessons from Adversity

As unwelcome as adversity may be, it does shape and define us in ways that nothing else can. Life does have a way of presenting us with what we most need to learn when we most need to learn it. While those lessons may not come in a form we would welcome, almost always they prove to be our most important teachers. When those times come, it helps a lot if we can trust enough to let life lead us in the direction we need to go.

Uncertainty is a Fertile Field

Trust is an awesome tool. It brings a new dynamic into our experience and allows us to find both meaning and purpose as we encounter the truths we have been seeking.

One of the ways we find those truths is by letting go of how things were. Letting go of how we would like things to be. Letting go of the desire to change what we cannot change. Letting go is incremental to our healing. Until we let go, we cannot move forward.

As the old saying goes, you have to put both feet in the boat before it can take you where you need to go. Letting go means putting both feet in the boat. It means accepting the lessons inherent in your situation and then moving forward on the strength of what you have learned.

Letting Go is Deep Soul Work

Victories of the spirit require – indeed, demand – letting go of things as they were. Letting go is an austere discipline, and yet its rewards are generous, for through it we learn acceptance. Acceptance allows us to see what is possible. Therein lies the seed of our ultimate healing.

It is only natural to resist change, but resistance never wins. Resistance is always in a state of battle. Acceptance leads to the way out.

Acceptance Opens Us to New Possibilities

Acceptance allows us to see things as they are. It gives us the perspective we need to see what we can or cannot change. Then we are free to choose, and what we choose are our thoughts, our feelings, and our response to what is happening in our life. This means aligning our choices with how we’d really like to live our life. Then we can consciously enter into the creative process that makes our life what it is.

We Always Have a Choice

Becoming aware that we have a choice in how we think and feel is the first step toward bringing our habits into the light of conscious awareness so we can recognize when we are being given an opportunity to learn something. This is important. When we change our response to life, our experience changes, too, which is what we wanted all along.

For example, you might begin by paying attention to how you respond to what life is bringing your way. Listen to what you are thinking. Audit your feelings. This is a practice, of course, but when you watch your inner activity much as an outside observer would, it is easier to see how you are molding and shaping your days. This frees you to work with the everyday events of your life and let them be your teacher, even the events that are the most difficult – especially the ones that are the most difficult. Your most difficult moments are the ones that offer you the most room for growth.

Watch for the Peace

See if you can put aside some of the busyness that fills your days so you can reconnect with the peace and stillness that are the very ground of your being. You find this peace and stillness when you rest in your Creator’s quiet, loving presence. Then you can bring that stillness and that peace back into your daily life, into your every thought and feeling. Day after patient day, integrate that stillness and that peace into your daily living and see the difference it makes.

If you do, you may notice how that presence is always with you. The faithfulness of that presence just may open a door – a way of seeing – you’ve never known before. You may even begin to see that same living, loving presence looking back at you everywhere you go. When that happens, you will know you are never really alone, no matter what. That knowing creates a confidence and fortitude that will carry you through other difficult times.

Judging Narrows Our View

Another important lesson is learning not to judge. We all do this. We judge things constantly. This is good, that is bad. This is happy, that is not. We like this, we don’t like that. When we judge, we aren’t accepting things as they are and our inner peace is disturbed. The peace we are talking about, of course, is the peace you have found in the stillness.

If you find you are doing a lot of judging, see if you can change your thinking. At first it may seem like you are trying to catch a river, but if you stick with it, gradually, over time, you will see a difference. It will get easier to let go. To let be what will be. To not get hung up on results. To trust that whatever happens is for the best.

Choose How You Want to Live Your Life

You see, it really is possible to change how you meet life. It really is possible to direct your mind and teach it what you want it to do. Then you’ll be able to draw a line beyond which you are not willing to go. You’ll know when you are approaching deep water, and you’ll consciously choose not to go where you do not want to swim. Instead, you’ll focus on what you do want, so you can bring more of that into your experience.

Then, regardless of what else is happening in your life, you can still find some measure of happiness. You can still rest in that beautiful, loving presence you have come to know during those quiet, peaceful times. This kind of acceptance, this kind of freedom is very healing. It allows you to use your pain as a means of growth. It allows you to see through your challenge to one of the greatest gifts it offers – who you really are.

So day after day simply, humbly practice being who you are. In all the little daily things, affirm the truths on which you are hanging the sum total of your faith. Then you’ll begin to understand that your thoughts, your life, and even your death are just stages in your journey. You’ll know for yourself that there is no darkness. There is only light, and it is everywhere. More and more, you’ll begin to see that the fabric of your life is one uncut, unbroken whole. More than that, now you’ll know that you are whole, regardless of whatever else may be happening.

This is the ultimate healing of which we spoke. In that moment of silent understanding, all your fears just slip away as quietly as they came.

Editor’s note: The featured image by Renate Meijer is used under a Creative Commons by-attribution, share-alike license.

Donna Miesbach
Donna Miesbach

Donna Miesbach has been writing for Contemplative Journal since 2014. Now she has joined our online teaching staff with her course, Moving Through Grief, A Guide to Inner Wholeness. For over thirty years, Donna Miesbach’s inspirational poems and articles have reached around the globe through such venues as Unity Magazine, Daily Word, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II, Ideals, and the Cup of Comfort book series. Donna is the award-winning author of From Grief to Joy, A Journey Back to Life & Living. She was a featured author in Wise Women Speak, 20 Ways to Turn Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones. Among her other books are the Tools for Teens program and Trails of Stardust, Poems of Inspiration and Insight. In 1985, she was named Inspirational Poet of the Year by The Poet Magazine. Donna also co-authored Coaching for a Bigger Win, A Playbook for Coaches, and Coaching Character and Leadership, A Playbook for Parents, with Greg Roeszler, Founder and Executive Director of Playmakers Mentoring Foundation, Sacramento CA. Donna has studied extensively with Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, Dr. David Morehouse, Jonathan Goldman and Roger Gabriel, and is a certified Chopra Center Meditation & Yoga Instructor. Donna lives and teaches in Omaha NE. For more information, please go to www.donnamiesbach.com.