During much of the year, we focus our attention on what we are not happy with, what we are lacking, things we feel are missing. I am sure that any number of us can effortlessly rattle off a long list of ways that our lives are not what we want them to be. It is very easy to become mired in negativity and lose sight of the many blessings bestowed upon us daily. What is extremely hard to do, but is immeasurably vital to obtaining true peace of mind and happiness, is finding the lessons in the midst of what we perceive as lack and being truly grateful for what we have, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.
Some time ago, I experienced a paradigm shifting series of events. At the onset of this "lesson" I felt utterly hopeless and full of despair. I spent countless hours crying and ashamed, desperate and humiliated; I had absolutely no idea how I would escape the situation and quite honestly wanted to curl up in a corner somewhere and disappear. Thoughts of facing my friends, family and critics if I did not resolve the situation raced through my mind and it was terrifying. I could mentally hear the accusations and see the disappointment etched on the faces of those dearest to me. How would I face my children? What would my mother say? How would this affect my marriage? How on earth could I reasonably explain what happened without shining a glaring spotlight on the irresponsible and misinformed choices I had made? "You are a failure; you'll never change. They were right about you.", mercilessly looped through my mind like a cruel recording that seemed to take on a life of its own. The negative thoughts and feelings assailed me from all sides and my old habits of avoidance, procrastination, self-pity and blame were eager to fill their long-held posts within my psyche.
The worst part of this entire ordeal was that the crisis I found myself in was totally self-created. The decisions that had given birth to the chain of events leading up to my predicament were overwhelmingly my own. It was a shame, but the road down which I was treading had carried the weight of my steps before. The scenery was all too familiar. I was devastated.
Broken and emotionally exhausted, I turned to God. Humbly, I began to pray in earnest, asking for God to show me the lessons and help me through the storm. I can honestly state that I did not consciously expect anything major to happen, but I felt I had no other option.
From somewhere deep within, a tiny voice emerged. "You can get past this.", it said. Feeling helpless, I brushed the voice aside and continued to despair. "You will grow from this, if you learn the lesson. You do not have to experience this again.", louder this time. In my heart I felt that believing anything other than the worse would be setting myself up for huge disappointment; thus, I continued to ignore the message.
As time marched on and my situation became even more precarious, the voice grew stronger. Each time I told myself that I was powerless to change my fate, the voice pointed out a multitude of options. Every time I rationalized why any action would be taken in vain since it was too late to fix the situation, the voice insisted that action was an absolute necessity. My ears were clogged with self doubt that was firmly rooted in years of low self esteem. My faith, long since diminished, could not believe there was a way out. My pity party was in full swing and familiarly comfortable. Did I not deserve the inevitable outcome of my poor choices? "No!", the voice demanded. I continued to shroud myself in self-pity, inadequacy and distractions, willing the voice to just be quiet and stop trying to give me false hope. The voice was daring me, forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and risk failure for the sake of changing an outcome. The thought of trying and failing was scarier than facing the terrible consequences that would result from inaction. As such, I dug my heels in deeper and filled my head with thousands of reasons why I should resign myself to my fate. The noise of panic set in, nearly drowning out common sense. In spite of this, the voice grew louder and louder still until it reached a soul searing crescendo. Finally, unable to fight it any longer, I sat still and listened. Then, I believed.
I began to take action, strengthened by the onset of absolute faith that grew stronger as each day ticked past. I knew that even if I could not change the outcome, in the end, I would be alright. I gave up the driver's seat to the only One who truly controlled anything, continued to take action and believe that in time, I would come out on top.
Many times my actions resulted in failure, but I kept persevering. After days of trying to change my situation and getting no where, a dear friend of mine called. She said that I had been on her mind for the past couple of days and that each time she thought about me she became very sad. For that reason, she had felt an urgent need to contact me. I thank God that she followed her instincts and reached out to me because it was through her that my answer came. I truly believe that God instructed her to call and provide me with the answer I so desperately needed. At the very last second of the eleventh hour, my situation was resolved. I am eternally grateful to her and to God for bringing her into my life. I am forever changed.
The lesson I took home from this ordeal was that I need to be truly thankful for each and every experience, loved one and possession in my life. I am truly changed and now actively look for the silver lining of every cloud. Life is good.
During this holiday season, I implore you to take some quiet time to think about all that is near and dear to you. I challenge you to feel extreme gratefulness for each day and every accomplishment, no matter how minor it may seem to you at the time. Instead of griping and wallowing in self pity over the situations you feel are keeping you down, take action. Dig in deep, find your inner strength and faith, then take action. Do not continue to expect new results from the same old actions. You are in control of your destiny and you have the most powerful cheerleader in your corner. Go to Him for guidance, humble yourself and pray. Dare to believe. Dare to be grateful. Dare to have faith. Dare to be thankful. Make this year the year that you experience your great breakthrough and begin to live to your full potential.
About Tamara Aw
Tamara Aw is the Founder & Director of MEG Staffing, a staffing company dedicated to positively impacting the communities it serves. Tamara also publishes the Achieve It All blog (http://www.achieveitall.blogspot.com), that seeks to motivate and inspire people in all areas of their lives.
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