Throughout the years, life has brought me many trials and challenges. Most I struggled with or failed at, which made my time in these seasons longer than was probably necessary. I can tell you with certainty that my attitude during these trials played a large part in the length of time I spent in the season and the outcome of each one. However, when I look back on my life, I am grateful for these seasons because each and every one has played a part in shaping who I am today.
For many years I put on the “happy face” and didn’t let many people know about the chaos in my life or how much I was truly hurting. In my mind and in my heart, I was the victim and danced an endless, silent dance at my internal pity party. “Why would he treat me like that? Why is this happening to me? Why don’t they like me? Why don’t they care about me? What did I do wrong?” My head spun with the “poor me” song like a stuck record.
It wasn’t until I heard the words, “Not everything is about you, Terri”, spoken to me by a dear and wonderful lady, that I finally began to understand. People are people and each one of us comes with our own baggage of hurts, hang-ups and habits. We are all different and handle things differently. I had to understand that there were countless reasons someone could have treated me the way they did and it probably had nothing to do with me at all; it was just how they handled it.
I also had to learn that just because something difficult was happening in my life, didn’t mean that my life was horrible. I think that’s where “faith and hope” really come into play. Painful situations happen all the time and it is my choice as to how I want to deal with them. I can spend my time and energy focused on the problem and how bad it is and let it suck me into an abyss of negativity or I can trust that there is something greater going on and know that I will make it through the situation, growing just a bit each time.
Of course, I had to learn about faith and hope first:
Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the thing I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,
trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will,
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next,
These verses and the Serenity Prayer were my focus for many, many months. Life was tough and had thrown me many curve balls and breaking old thought processes was difficult during these times. It was challenging. There were times that these scriptures were taped to my bathroom mirror, my cubicle wall and even posted in my car. The line, “trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will,” from the Serenity Prayer, was a mantra I repeated several times a day. I don’t remember how long it took or when it happened, but I slowly started to believe these promises. Yes, they are God’s promises to me, and of course, to you.
Something happened when I started believing; my whole attitude changed! I no longer fret about every struggle or hurt or bad decision or anything. I know there is a plan and a purpose for whatever I am going through, even if I don’t understand. Yes, I have bad days and down days but I do not stay there long. I do whatever it takes to get my perspective back and know, in both my head and heart, that I will be okay. I try to face each one with a positive attitude, knowing that everything will work out the way it is suppose to and it will be better than I could have ever imagined.
When I look back now, over my life, I can see God’s hand in it every step of the way. Those storms I walked, limped and crawled through were blessing in some form or another. They have shaped me and changed me in profound ways. How can I not be grateful for these struggles? How can I not thank my Savior for loving me enough to grow and change me? How can I not love myself when He has loves me so much more? I am not the person I once was…I am so grateful for the woman I am now!