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I believe the gift is twofold: 1) the ability to Notice this challenging situation is CHRONIC and still needs to be resolved, and 2) having the opportunity to resolve it each time it appears.
Throughout my life, I have faced many chronically challenging situations. Each of these situations have been very difficult, but I learned last year that life is a journey spent on a rollercoaster. You WILL experience lows, but you WILL also experience the highs. The gift of challenging situations is being able to be accepting of the present moment. A lot of times I find myself chasing that high, but then the high comes and goes and I regret the time I wasted waiting for that moment. The gift is: you have the ability to choose to enjoy this ride. Faced with a challenging situation? Take it with gratitude and know that this challenge was given to you by the Universe to make you stronger!
In the opening to his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow, Francis Weller offers that at some stage of life we are each invited to become an apprentice to sorrow. I feel like i am standing solidly in that universal apprenticeship these days…
Three ideas stand out – the gift of humanity, the gift of connection, and the gift of fortitude. Humanity as we all share in the experience of persistent challenge. Connection as it is in our challenges that we are brought together. Fortitude as enduring challenges teach me to endure and push forward regardless of the challenge.
The answer for me is in the question. If the situation is chronic, of course it’s challenging and fighting, fleeing or freezing in place does not solve anything. But facing, feeling, grieving if required, helps. An understanding that acceptance is giving in not giving up is gift. My chronically challenging situation has limited the use of so many of my talents but has gifted me with a new understanding of what really matters. In many ways, I’m living more fully than I ever have before. I was a singer and a neck surgery in 1998 robbed me of a good part of my vocal range. I could no longer form the pitches so I sang in lower keys. More recent health issues have impacted my ability to use my diaphragm effectively so I cannot project my voice and can no longer participate in live theatre productions. Another issue causes me to cough when I do try to project vocally. In 2015, I wrote the following poem (It too is a gift that allowed me to feel and grieve my loss). I share it below:
Lament of Loss by Carol Ann Conner
Some of us have a booming voice.
Others speak with a lilt.
A few are given the gift
of song, but the day comes
when it is gone.
When this happened to me
It is like being violently stripped,
ripped from my very being
at the altar
of wasted chances.
Love always sang to me
filling my aching heart
so many times when hope
could not be found.
The laughter, the tears,
the promise, the fears,
The total vulnerability
in each tone.
Images of audiences
that still thrill me,
still inspire me
and fill me
with awe and gratitude.
No longer the singer
of the song,
No longer the voice
that’s forever gone
but the music lives on, and on.
Thank you for this poem.
You are most welcome. Thank you for reading it!
Carol, such beautiful, tender, and honest words here. Thank you.
Kevin, It has been helpful to learn that losing a gift can present one with a gift. Of course, I will always wish the voice was there. That said, I am grateful for the memories of when it was there; and I know that its loss has gifted me with greater awareness and compassion for myself and others.
The voice is gone. Singer is still there. I hear you singing everyday
Hermann-Josef, What a beautiful message to receive. Thank you.
Spimply being present, going through the hardship aware and gaining insight that would later be used for my benefit.
Thanks, Moses – I like your reply 🙂
I hope that the gift is awareness and compassion.
Chronic illness has forced me into following a more spiritual outlook in order for me to find purpose and meaning in a life where every thing I do leaves me exhausted and in pain. It is a work in progress but I have found a level of acceptance and through gratefulness I have learnt to find joy in little things and celebrate any achievements, however small and mundane they would appear to a healthy person. Being bedbound gives me the time and stillness to work on going deeper and finding light-filled spaciousness which is a beautiful place to be when I can quiet my mind for long enough!
I honor your courage, Butterfly, and hold you in light and hope.
Remember: there’s nothing to push against, work to feel, to understand, to create being safe. Look into the intentions of those who who at first seem to bring threat. Be grateful for the friend who gives guidance and understanding of the systemic factors at play in complicating the challenge. Act to help alleviate the the suffering, hopefully in ways that benefit both parties.
I can explore new resources that might help me cope. Sometimes a book, article or chat with a friend can provide a perspective that helps me see a situation in a new light.
A stability in the medication I am on . It amend I are doing an endless dance of on again ,off again. . Yet I am grateful that I am not in severe pain and pray for my friends who are!
Pain that’s chronic is challenging and the gift is learning how to accept and let go!
The gift that I’ve received in this challenging situation is the realization that I possess great strength and courage from deep within, along with an abundance of patience.
Might? Really? I live with chronic back pain that at times is extremely painful and debilitating. It’s been 14 years and I’m still waiting for the gift. Depending on the measure of challenge a person’s so-called “situation” may be, pollyannish comments like today’s question sometimes do the opposite of their intended effect.
When I have had a difficult situation, I have been surprised by which are my friends offer support. It is not always the people we expect.
To reflect on the situation and see how else would you deal with it …
Believing in ‘and this too shall pass’ 🙂
An invitation to look at what is really going on. For example, are there needs being neglected or are wants just getting too much airtime.
Grief…… Can I call coping with grief a challenge? I don’t know. Something in me tells me that I’m doing my deceased husband Karel a shortcoming by calling it a challenge . I don’t know about psychology or anything, but it feels that way in my heart. This is me…..thinking out loud again. But….. In grief is the great gift of love.❣
Christine, A very deep bow to you for your wise and tender words – in grief is the great gift of love. Your abiding love for Karel shines through…
Spot on, Christine! Grief is grief. To call grief a mere challenge diminishes why we grieve and for whom.
Maybe it is a journey, but yes a challenging one.
Any outside problem is an inside problem of my own. It is a mirror that shows what I have to work on. But at the same time it is a hint to be the silent loving being that is able to welcome any situation at a given moment. It makes no sense to fight against a moment that is already there. But facing it with love makes it full
Yes, Hermann-Josef, What is IS.
“It makes no sense to fight against a moment that is already there” – it’s a really good lesson I’m trying to learn right now. Thank you for sharing, it makes me feel less alone in this journey.
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