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Meeting Life’s Challenges

“Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.

“Jesus turned – caught her at it. Then he reassured her: ‘Courage daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.’ The woman was well from then on.”     Matthew 9 – The Message

I love to observe people. Postures reveal weariness or enthusiasm. Faces disclose concerns, excitement, or deep concentration. A life time lived with worry can be seen etched in deep lines that expose the battle scars of the soul and spirit.

Some people wear masks woven so tightly they form an impenetrable barrier against the world – emotions denied, guarded and concealed. It is only the eyes that give away hidden pools of pain collected over a life time. While others are like the pages of a book, open to new discoveries, new adventures, a zest for life and an indomitable twinkle in the eye.

Everyone meets life’s challenges differently; our personalities are played out on the stage of life. Some struggle with the simplest demands while others relish the complexity of life. Challenges may be different as well. While some lives are relatively uneventful, others are full of overwhelming tragedies, losses and disappointments.

But it is not what has been handed to us – but what we do with it that makes the difference. We can turn our challenges into a life rich in experience, even if battle scared, or one that is devoid of pleasure and filled with pain.

Life is not perfect – it is not easy. We may be required to give up everything: home, position, status, job, health, and even families. To live means we will struggle. But we can use that struggle to get stronger or allow it to beat us down.

The stress in our lives can be seen as challenges that hold hidden opportunities. Even when the pressures and stress seems unbearable, we can look for and find solutions and ways to profit from it. Even if the gains are small at first, they are steps forward.

In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Victor Frankl writes, “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.” In the horror of concentration camps, Dr. Frankl discovered that “what alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’ – the ability to ‘choose one’s attitude’ in a given set of circumstances.”

We choose. We choose how we will respond to the challenges in our life. We choose whether we will see opportunity or hopelessness. We choose whether we will try once more or give up. We choose to ask God for strength, hope, faith, resiliency and courage.

We choose how we color our world. Even when the canvas is all black, we hold the paint brush that can add bold color. The canvas does not become the dominant theme in our life – but only the backdrop for what we put on top of it.

The ability to choose is a great freedom.

©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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