Episode 167: Life Interrupted – Problems Call Forth our Courage and our Wisdom
Episode 166: Life Interrupted - Problems Call Forth our Courage and our Wisdom
Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled said, “Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually.”
Stay tuned for today’s episode which I have created to remind you about all the courage and wisdom you’ve gained from your problems and challenges, and that life interrupted is actually just life.
As most of you know, the Love Your Story podcast started from an earlier time in my life where I didn’t love my story. I felt shame and disappointment about my three failed marriages. I felt like I had failed in places where I was meant to succeed. What I wasn’t seeing during those rough years was that the relationship problems and all my efforts at saving my relationships, the struggles and the learning, the mistakes, the stretching that was required in the most painful places, and maybe especially the spiritual experiences I had as I tried to stand again after being metaphorically gutted in all kinds of ways….well these events would create courage and wisdom. They would show me my own strength. They would give me empathy and understanding I could never have had if I hadn’t been in the battles I’d fought.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross said, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation , a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fill them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Today’s episode is a reminder that the problems in your life, big and small, have the potential to call forth your courage and wisdom. They have the potential to create in you understanding and empathy, and to align you with the human plight in ways that the easy life could not. As we traverse our problems sometimes it’s hard to remember that they are opportunities, that they are workshops, so this reminder episode is a space for you to look at the problem you are currently wrestling with - what is it? Let’s pinpoint it right here……., now console yourself with the knowledge that you are growing, and then consider what story you can create around it that will serve you best - that will help with that growth state, that will bring hope bubbling to the surface, even if it’s just hope for a better time, with the knowing that at some point the difficult parts of your journey will make more sense.
In episode 22 Becky Andrews, a blind woman, mom, and mental health councilor shares a story of an important crossroads where she recognized a crucial moment in her life - where she could choose to control her fear or to stay home bound. She shifted from her fear and chose how she was going to let her problem of losing her eyesight and the fear she felt control her life. Here’s Becky:
Tune in for this flashback clip...
Hellen Keller once said, “Although the world is very full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
The overcoming of it - the struggle, these are the opportunities of the metaphorical cocoon. Richard Bach, one of my favorite writers - pointed out, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly.”
We are all at a different stage within our cocoons - changing, growing, turning stubby legs into beautiful wings. I always remember the example taught in grade school - you can’t help a chicken break out of it’s egg or it won’t be strong enough to survive. You can’t pry a roses petals open or it will wilt and die. You can’t tear open the cocoon to help the butterfly emerge - the butterfly must break out of the cocoon itself in order to have the strength to fly off. We are of a grand design and that design requires struggle, but that struggle creates beauty.
Let me share another example from another earlier Love Your Story episode. This was one of the craziest stories I’ve heard on the podcast -
In episode 21 I interviewed Rusty Lindquist and he shared his story of his father trying to sacrifice him as Abraham tried to sacrifice Isaac in the Bible. His mother escapes with her two children but the drama and trauma doesn’t stop there… it’s an almost unbelievable story that I highly recommend going back and listening to, but I want to just share a clip today….
Tune in for this flashback clip...
His story is an excellent example of being able to choose the story you create about your experiences - Rusty could have been a VERY traumatized and broken man, but his choice to look at his story as the space for overcoming and sharing created a successful outlook on life for him. He went on to creat a solid marriage, a close family with lots of kids, a successful and stable career, and a platform for sharing his story to help others. This was built intentionally. This was the overcoming.
In episode 65 Annadel Lemon shares some ideas on taking back our power. I don’t know all the processes of healing that Rusty went through as he grew up, but this next example shines a light on the process of healing and being gentle with ourselves as we enter the recovery phase.
When Annadel was 15 years old her father shot her mother and then killed himself in a tragedy that certainly created a difficult story for Annadel. Instead of letting her story and her problems hold her back Annadel found that she naturally started looking for things she could be grateful for in her life. She says that being able to get to that space of gratitude for the growth, the life shifts, the new opportunities, despite our losses, is key, but first there is a process of grieving our losses. I think this is an important piece of the puzzle as we discuss the ideas of life’s interruptions, because the space and compassion for ourselves, for our pain, for the processes we must go through is part of the growth, and we need to allow for that part of the struggle without self recrimination. Let’s be real about how we heal. It’s a process and that process requires self compassion, an allowing and a tenderness rather than judgement and pressure. Here’s what Annadel has to say:
Tune in for this flashback clip...
As we are making our best life plans shit happens and life, the life we envisioned is interrupted or even completely rerouted. In episode 103/104 Taunia Terry finds her way back to herself after 5 abusive marriages - those weren’t in the plan. In episode 115 Sara Dean works through infertility and the life she had planned, the life she wanted, and creates something different than she originally expected - the Shameless Mom Academy.
When your husband leaves you unexpectedly, when you don’t get that promotion at work that you’ve invested years into getting, when you get that cancer diagnosis that changes your life, or your child is born with disabilities….what you pictured gets interrupted and the canvas you’re painting on suddenly has colors you never expected.
What do you do with those colors? That’s up to you - like Becky’s story; like Rusty’s story. We always have choice.
Now, stick with me through a couple threaded thoughts - First, we all know the adage that Nobody said Life is Fair. It’s not. Second adage - You can do hard things. You can. Third adage, Life is Messy. That’s a fact. Fourth adage: Live Well. Laugh Often, Love Much. That one’s just annoying, but it’s still great advice.
In other words, the very nature of this thing we call life is that nothing is guaranteed, fair, or easy, but that we are strong and we can choose to laugh, love, and live with beauty.
In episode 30 - Titled “Beautiful People Do Not Just Happen.” I quoted Simon Sinek…and I want to use this quote again -
Simon Sinek said, “The most important thing to do before we die is live.”
I think Simon Sinek’s quote applies to this topic beautifully because times of trial are times when living is the hardest. It’s these hard, uphill climbs when we often want to stop – sit down on the metaphorical trail or jump off the cliff. I’ve had moments where I could not see any point in going on. I’ve had times I wanted the whole darn thing to be over with. But I’ve come to realize, that like it or not, living is a collage of beautiful spaces and staggering pain. There are incredible ah ha moments, peace is often fleeting, uncertainty is a given, and fear – in all its forms is a part of the game, but it’s also rife with accomplishment, joy, love, and magic. It’s a mixed bag of everything, and I’ll state the obvious - it’s the bad that helps us appreciate the good. It’s the dark that lets us see the light.
Live with all you’ve got people - live before you die. There isn’t room for leaving early. You’ve got power, choices, and internal strength. Call on all of it when you need to, and I’m a fan of including God and all that extra power when things get beyond me - I highly recommend that.
Think back with me through your life. What courage and wisdom have you gained from your “life interrupted” moments? (Leave a space here……)
The answer to this one question is enough to put things into perspective and even to shine a light of hope on any current interruptions to your ideal.
Your wisdom and courage didn’t come from having everything go right. So, the fact that it may not all being going smoothly right now is still okay…it’s all going to be alright - all of it. Even the stuff that so inconsiderately interrupted your plan.
You are getting tougher, wiser and braver and every time the skies darken you flex those muscles.
You choose to be held hostage by the worst things that have happened to you, or you find your way forward knowing that this too shall pass and when it does you’ll have a little more wisdom, a little more courage, and a greater understanding of your own strength.
In the words of Aristotle, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
Life interrupted is just life. Not the life we planned, but have faith that the story ends with someone - YOU - who knows things they didn’t know when they started; who understands things they did not once understand, and along with that you’ll also have a bag of magic tricks you’ve learned along your journey. It really IS about the journey and the journey is an adventure, and the nature of an adventure is that you never know what’s around the next corner. Surprises are the norm and struggles make us strong, and the nature of life is the mixed bag of all of it.
You’ve got this.
Thanks for being with me today.
Quick reminder: Go to loveyourstorypodcast.com for your t-shirts, for the link to buy your copy of LIFE - Living Intentional and Fearless Everyday - my book with the 21 Life Connection Challenges in it, and to get a link to all the 160+ episodes that have aired over the past 3.5 years. Including the ones I shared snippets of today.
Your challenge for the week is to take a moment and consider the toughest times of your life and to catalogue the growth that came to you during those times. It’s a GREAT journal entry that will serve to strengthen you even more.