Discovering My Strength Amid Life’s Challenges

Challenges Ahead

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

-Bernice Johnson Reagon

My first reaction to life’s challenges isn’t always a positive one. Such was the case with certain events I encountered in the past year, particularly in the last several months. But the quote above by Bernice Johnson Reagon genuinely offers profound wisdom for people like me who find it difficult to battle life’s everyday challenges. Admittedly, life’s challenges do throw me way out of my comfort zone just when life is flowing so smoothly. But if I look at the deeper meaning behind those challenges, they provide me with a multitude of opportunities to face my fears and to rediscover myself, my purpose, my strengths and my weaknesses. These challenges allow me to refocus on my relationship with the Divine and to find ways to strengthen my faith — the faith that sometimes wavers when I’ve hit rock bottom and I can only see darkness all around me. And I sometimes forget that there is a comfort and peace that is waiting for me if only I open my heart to receive it, if only I allow God to bear my burdens, if only I become still and listen, if only I put my complete trust in God and His timing.

Paralyzed is how I felt amid some of my trials and tribulations recently. It was as if my life had come to a halt and all of my aspirations were delayed. It seemed as though all of the difficult events were controlling my life and in which direction my life would now be led. I had allowed myself to be defined by my problems and the uncontrollable challenges of my life. There were many days when the tears wouldn’t stop streaming down my face and there were countless moments when I sat in utter self-doubt, even questioning God’s ways, wondering about the turmoil and why my world was so shaken up all of the sudden. Despite the doubts and questions that had begun to creep in, God saved me yet again. Through it all, God was my strength. He reminded me that I could lean on Him when I couldn’t lean on my own understanding. He brought me back to Him because He knows that I belong only to Him. He knows that I will always be tranquil when I allow myself the time to experience His real presence. God knows that peace is promised when I deepen my knowledge of Him through nature, through others who are fighting a harder battle than I am, through the people who are ever-ready to shower me with their love, through my trials and tribulations, through His word, through acknowledging His beautiful attributes, through prayer and through my sincere efforts to become still.

During my moments of stillness, I was privileged to feel the close and authentic presence of the Divine. It was in the quietude that the small still voice within began to change into an audible whisper to bring forth God’s love and wisdom. God whispered His beautiful truth into my ears when it was least expected. He enlightened me to open my heart and see the world with eyes of love, to heal my body and all the brokenness that resides in my heart and to be brutally honest with myself so that I can dance gracefully with my soul. He afforded me with innumerable opportunities to shift my consciousness, to continually be aware of how to better myself, to count my blessings no matter what the circumstances and to believe in the abundant beauty of the Universe. Every demanding experience, every trial of faith and every adverse event that I encountered couldn’t have been survived without God’s endless love that was poured into my life. He didn’t give me everything that I WANTED but He sure did give me everything that I NEEDED in my moments of hardship. And the most precious gift that I received was my very own best friend named God who was ever-present in each and every chaotic situation I faced. It is said that people will abandon you, fail you and break your heart but God will never do that because He only loves and forgives.

So I want to take a moment now to thank my beloved God for blessing my life with His magnificent miracles. I’m so very grateful for God’s gentle nudges that remind me to stay centered while I continue to journey through this challenging phase of my life. I now stand stronger than before and more faithful than ever with only praise and glory in my heart for the Almighty and Omnipresent Creator of ALL.

 

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Thoughtful Thursday: Life is too short

Clouds with heart shape

Life is too short. I often personally have to remind myself of how unpredictable life can be and sometimes, the reminders are so naturally manifested as I’m going about my day. We never know what will happen from this moment to the next. All it takes is a second for our world to turn inside out. All the plans for the future that we make in life to feel like we are somehow in control may never be accomplished. All the dreams we wish to fulfill may be left unrealized. We may be surrounded by our loved ones in this very moment and in an instant they may vanish from our lives. Yet how often do we tell our loved ones what they mean to us and how grateful we are for them? How often do we willingly forgive those people that have betrayed or hurt us at some point in our life? How often do we remember that our loved ones will not remain in our lives forever? People have an innate tendency to take life and the people in our life for granted. We may lash out in anger and express some harsh remarks to someone we love over a trivial situation or even stop talking to them. And we may think that tomorrow we will apologize or reconcile with them. But we forget that tomorrow is not promised and it may be too late to make amends.

So while we are still living our life, let us…

…never stop saying “I love you” to those that are near and dear to us and most importantly, show them how important they are or how much we love them.

…never stop saying “thank you” to those people that are truly blessings in our life.

…not lose sight of all the people that we have encountered in our life and be grateful for the lessons that we have learned from all of them.

…appreciate the people in our life for who they are as well as for the time we have spent together with them even if they are not around as much.

…forgive those that have wronged us and put all those unpleasant memories behind us.

…rekindle bonds that have been severed before it’s too late to say “I’m sorry”.

…enjoy every moment and live every day as if was our last.

And remember, we often don’t realize the value of someone until we lose them. A moment now spent cherishing those around us, loving and forgiving them can make a difference in our own life. This thing called life is just that it goes by so quickly and tomorrow may not be ours to see. All we really have is this moment to express our love so why not start now?

Thoughtful Thursday: Walking In Faith

The path ahead of me is very narrow and obscure with many treacherous twists and bends in the road. The thought to forge ahead when there are no guarantees that the walk will be smooth and pleasant is extremely scary. It takes a lot of guts and a strong-willed mindset to travel down a path where you cannot see where it leads. Time and time again, I wonder if the path I have chosen is where I should be headed or if a fork in the road ahead will result in even more strenuous challenges ahead. I worry. I doubt. I lose all of my hope and faith. Why? Because the rebel within me emerges when I find that the path I have chosen does not lead me to the end of the road as quickly enough as I would like to get there.

And then I hear His whisper, “Patience, my child. You will get there in time.”

Yes, I hear this countless times. But do I really listen and take heed?

No.

Admittedly, this path is not an easy one to travel. When certain things don’t go as I had planned, I feel unsure and unconvinced that my plans are consistent with God’s will. When I feel defeated, I lose any faith I have in myself and in His plans for me. I question myself, “Am I following the right path, the one that He wants me to follow?”

As I stand on this path feeling weary, I ask for the Lord’s guidance relentlessly to help me move forward in life and to not dwell on the past, to look ahead and not behind me where I have already been, to make choices that will serve me better than the ones I have made in the past. But when I don’t hear a clear answer from Him, I feel discouraged.

Actually, I am not being attentive to the answers He wants me to hear or see.

His way of answering my prayers is by the signs that are manifested in my everyday life. Sometimes, I ignore these signs and other times, I am careful to follow His lead. The signs remind me of why my journey is so important for me and how I can make this journey more fulfilling for myself. And to get there, I must choose faith over fear.

I must walk in faith.

One. Step. At. A. Time.

As I was perusing Courage 2 Create today, I started to ponder the following quote on this blog:

Whereas Hope is the belief that things can get better, Faith is the knowing that things will get better.”

And I began to tell myself these very words:  “It is not enough to hope that things will get better. It is not enough to believe that things will get better. I have to KNOW that things WILL get better.”

So I look at the path behind me that I have traveled thus far only to reflect upon the chaotic times that did in fact become easier and calmer, the then-turbulent problems that are now so trivial and the journey that has transformed me from who I was to who I am now. And I recognize that it has only gotten better.

Indeed, I stumble on my journey through the darkest valleys, the raging waters, the heaviest storms and the most dangerous fires that I encounter. But God continues to encourage me along, lighting my way to keep me from sinking. Sometimes, remembering this is all it takes for me to pick myself back up and walk along in faith because I KNOW something wonderful is waiting for me in the end which will make all the difference.

Missing Your Smile

Smile

Today, I celebrate a very special day — my big brother’s birthday. I haven’t seen my brother in almost a month now. Oftentimes, I long to see him and hear his voice. My heart misses his angelic smile dearly and I hope that he will enjoy this poem that I have written especially for him.

Missing your smile

I miss that smile,
The smile that only you can speak,
The smile that is so special and unique,
The smile that I will always seek.

I miss that smile,
The smile that was unspoken yet it would inspire,
The smile that illuminated my dismal days when I was in the mire,
The smile that is simply divine and the one I deeply admire.

I miss that smile,
The smile that even without you around, I still see,
The smile that expressed how proud you were of me,
The smile that always greeted me with glee.

I miss that smile, my big brother’s gracious smile,
The smile that would make my troubled heart soften,
The smile that I do not get to see often,
The smile that will never be forgotten.

Thoughtful Thursday: I Tried So Hard

Sometimes I need to say these four words to myself. Out loud. Especially in those times that I have tried and failed. Though it doesn’t come easy to me, I need to praise myself for trying hard…to fully acknowledge and believe that I gave it my best shot even if the outcome was not what I had hoped…to honor myself for doing what was right and making a difference. To have tried is to have learned…and succeeded. And that is what matters in the end.

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