Finding the Beauty
If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, “The Secret Garden”
Over the next several blog posts we are going to explore the subject of Resilience – bouncing back from hardship, adversity and trauma. Each post will explore a specific way we may be able to adapt to the challenges and difficulties in our lives. Based on an article in Psychology Today – “I Get Knocked Down – But I Get Up Again”, the third tip is:
Adjust Your Perspective
When I was in my 20s and filled with the sense of invulnerability that comes with youth, I thought resilience was an individual matter. If you are smart, young, and psychologically tough, you can find your way through even the most serious problems. But recovery from major hardships, such as spousal loss or unemployment, can take years. Now that I’m more battle-worn, I realize that to function in new circumstances, you have to be able to change your expectations and view of the world. —Melanie A. Greenberg, Ph.D., “The Mindful Self-Express”
Recently a friend wrote us about his week. It had been bad. Very bad. He felt useless at work, pushed aside, his opinions disregarded. What he had signed on to do had somehow gotten changed, against his preferences. In his new responsibilities, he wasn’t getting the support he needed. He listed issue after issue in his office where his role had been altered. He wasn’t happy. At home, it was even more difficult. His wife has a very serious illness and her capabilities are limited. She is often too weak to eat, certainly too weak to work, and unable to leave the house except for medical appointments. Care that they were counting on to take place in their community cannot be given. They have to travel an hour each way to receive it. It’s not easy for him to be away from home for long because his mother also lives with them. She requires 24-hour care. Lately, they’ve had to call 911 for her several times, resulting in several hospitalizations. Money is really tight. Medical expenses have added up. His paycheck has gone down with all the time he’s taken off to care for his mother and his wife. He’s had to borrow from his retirement to keep some of the creditors away.
He wonders when it will all end. He asks how long will this time of trial go on. He cries out at times in frustration and anger at the relentlessness of it all. He questions whether or not God has any concern for him and what he and his family are going through. His patience is frayed and many times he is angry. He’s sleep-deprived and exhausted. His activities have been severely limited. At times, he desperately wants out. Of it all.
His anguish is raw as it pours out. The pain is palpable. His fatigue unending.
Yet almost without fail in the midst of it all he can find something good to share. The latest was about the garden his wife has started. She can’t tend to it a lot. But the little she can brings her joy. His joy grows along with hers. At times it’s been about an unexpected refund, or an expense that wasn’t as large as he anticipated, or a few hours when he was able to get out of the house for an afternoon. He always asks about us, about how we are doing. He still thinks beyond himself, even in his distress. He keeps looking up even when he is all the way down. He is always pointing out the beauty even in an unpleasant world.
None of it is easy, we know. Sometimes we don’t know what to say. But his resilience is incredible. His will to do what he needs to do is intensely strong. He is battle-worn; that is for certain. But he has altered his perspective for the people he loves. His years of experience tell him that life isn’t perfect, that troubles come and go. He doesn’t expect more than is realistic and he doesn’t dwell on what is not. Instead, even with his daily limitations and responsibilities he can still find something to celebrate.
Though the celebrations may be small, they are enough to give him hope. Enough to see beauty and joy somewhere, every day.