“Into every life, some rain must fall.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1842
Bristlecone trees, like human beings have been through all sorts of storms. Bristlecone trees are sustained because its nature adapts. The very hardships it must adapt to cultivate trees so beautiful and so ancient they surpass the majestic Giant Sequoia of the Sierra by more than a millennium. Bristlecone roots run so deep that it isn’t moved by anything.
These trees look dead, yet are very much alive. They are the oldest trees on the earth-about 4,000 years old. Nothing can uproot it or shake its foundation!
After witnessing the Bristlecone Tree firsthand I got to thinking about the aspects of my life where my roots go deep like the Bristlecone and those where my roots are shallow and roll like the infamous tumbleweeds.
The places of my life with Bristlecone depth include: my treasured relationships with others; my persistence concerning a project that’s near and dear to my heart and my relationship with myself: a constant willingness to self-analyze, relearn and regroup.
I soon discovered, the other places of my life weren't the depth previously calculated. Aspects of it feel like they’re blowing away or are being partially swept away by remnants of a tsunami.
Purposing to convert the challenges, which presented into a growth opportunity, I pledged to ask myself what’s standing in my way and what’s next?
What’s STANDING in the way?
The question, which kept encircling my mind, was why there were aspects of my life where I felt I was always learning; yet NEVER coming into the KNOWLEDGE of those truths?
I honestly thought I was stronger than I was. The very areas taken for granted in passive reflection as inherent strengths, I couldn’t write down as Bristlecone deep. For example, I thought I’d mastered the area of not taking things personally-yet over the past two year’s, my life had been ambushed by several situations where my character was attacked…. and it hurt!
Yes I’ve rebounded from much of it, yet there’s this lingering stuff that raises its evil head just when I’m ready to emerge as this healed-whole person that’s well able to look past the pettiness of a few mean spirited individuals and circumstances.
The places where I find myself stuck are those where my memories of the past are more vivid than my future.
The balance of this blog entry will focus on what you and I require to withstand whatever is thrown at us.
I scoured the Internet, my personal and professional resources to tackle the emotions I was experiencing. The targeted outcome was to ingrain forgiveness in my soul and increase resiliency...as I became crystal clear that additional challenges will arise as my life emerges to new heights.
I discovered something profound, yet meaningful from Virginia Smith Harvey, PhD, NCSP. Harvey indicated, “It is neither possible nor appropriate for forgiveness to occur while the harm is still occurring. For example, a person who is being abused should not try to forgive the offender while the abuse is still occurring. But later, forgiving increases well-being and improves interpersonal relations. In forgiving, an injured person can develop empathy and come to understand even an abuser’s needs and motives. Empathy can enable a person to accept imperfections in all people, including themselves. Forgiving persons choose to experience, appropriately express, and then let go of negative feelings of anger, guilt, and retaliation. All of these responses increase future resiliency.”
Here was my answer. I was actually more resilient than I’d been giving myself credit for, in terms of the character and circumstance attacks I’d endured. I merely needed a NON BIASED voice of reason to clarify things for me.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t being inappropriate or unforgiving; rather I am & was (yes all at the same time) in the midst of a metaphoric Perfect Storm and wasn’t being offered a mercy/apologetic amends raft by my would be accusers, character assassins & circumstances that had occurred beyond my control!
My new objective is to control the controllables. This begins and ends with m-y-s-e-l-f! In controlling my responses, I better grasp the resilience already in my personal, professional, emotional & physical arsenal to appropriately and quickly deal with anxiety, anger, or depression that can result from the ongoing adversity, I’ve been/am subject to.
The second benefit of this behavior modification is it enables me during times of peace, self-encouragement, as well as pre-establish a series of realistic and manageable goals aka boundaries. For instance, in times of pondering solutions with difficult people/circumstances, I can preface interactions by providing a consistent structure and clear expectations; that is, expressing what behavior(s) are acceptable for interactions with me regarding “________”, and what behavior(s) are not acceptable regarding “________”.
But! It’s too hard….
Nothing is too hard unless you believe it is. Yes it will be difficult to establish changes in your life, yet not impossible. The true culprit that stops you and I if we aren’t diligent and clear about the outcome we’re seeking is FRUSTRATION & HOPELESSNESS.
Hope is the oxygen of your & my soul. However, everywhere we turn we now see the downfall of the economy, tragedies, and strained relationships-many feel very HOPELESS.
Frustration is an enemy to knowledge because it ‘s faith functioning without hope.
"Hope is the blueprint of faith." When hope is lost, your faith loses its aim. You no longer have a mission to accomplish. Rather, you scatter efforts uselessly in every direction.
Expectation in Greek means the happy anticipation of good, eager longing, strained expectancy, watching with an outstretched head, and abstraction from anything else that might engage the attention.
Hope is regained when you take your idealized end point, keep it before your eyes and in your ears until you’ve built an image inside you. Hope cannot be penetrated when you cannot see yourself without whatever it is that you endeavor to have, become or see manifested.
You know you’re on the right track when you become so tuned in to what you envision, that you can’t think about anything else.
People may try to have a conversation with you and you’ll always end up talking about your hope/expected endpoint.
When your hope gets that strong, it doesn't matter what kind of unbelief people and life circumstances tries to throw your way, it’ll just bounce off you. You're so one-track-minded; you can't be drawn off course.
Remember HOPE is birthed in the heart & mind, activated through the mouth, followed by corresponding action-after you speak something, you have to do something!
It’s fed by gaining and acting on the knowledge gained.
The litmus test… When knowledge is received, you act upon it like advice received from your pharmacist, doctor, lawyer or trusted friend.
When will you act upon this insight contained in this blog? I’ve already got my 3x5 card of advice offered by Virginia Smith Harvey, PhD, NCSP. I’ll refer to it when I’m tempted to beat myself up over something I shouldn’t.
To your greatness,