May 5, 2019

Don’t Wait for Rainbows. Enjoy the Storms of Life!

By Brigit Atkin

I hate winter. I can’t take the cold, and I don’t like seeing the trees bare of their leaves. It seems like every year, I enjoy the wintry weather as it sets the stage for Christmas, but then, I want to skip right to summer.

This year was different. During the winter months, my husband and I enjoyed many local road trips together, and in doing so, saw some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever experienced. We saw a snow-capped Pine Valley Mountain peeking above the beautiful red rocks that are so prominent in this area. We marveled at some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets ever and took many pictures of the low-lying clouds and fog that blanketed our local mountains and valleys. I gained a new appreciation of the winter: its wonders and its beauties.

Sometimes, our lives can be like winter: cold, dark, bleak. Storms can threaten our foundations and can wreak havoc with things we thought were in order. Dark clouds can bring gloom into our minds. Rains may produce flooding, and winds can howl loudly at our doorsteps. Yet, they can benefit us. Natural disasters aside, what can these storms teach us?

If we look at the storms in nature, we learn that the elements have the power to reshape our environment. Wind, for instance, has the ability to help seeds move from place to place, something they otherwise couldn’t do. Many varieties of oak and pine trees are partly dependent on this scattering from the winds. In addition, wind blowing on a small seedling or newly emerged spring plant helps the plant create a stronger stem. Rain also plays a vital role in our ecosystem as it replenishes and restores life to parched land, insects, and wildlife. Rain is essential to our survival.

Now let’s apply the above analogies to the emotional storms of life. When painful emotional winds blow around you, when dark mental clouds threaten your happiness—what then? How can you possibly find peace amongst your personal storms? Through personal experience, I have developed several habits that have helped me gain strength and perspective during challenging times. They are:

  • Always start with gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even in difficult circumstances. You may have to look hard, but I promise there will always be a silver lining in the clouds.
  • Receive the support of others. We have three large pine trees in our backyard that provide an excellent wind break for us. Who are the people in your life who serve as a sounding board or a buffer for you? Difficulties provide us with excellent opportunities to find safe shelter and draw strength from friends and family.
  • Take a moment and envision the person you will be on the other side of this difficulty. Just as the winds shape the terrain, difficulties can mold and refine you—if you allow it. You can also choose to be bitter and isolated, but it’s up to you. Just as the wind creates a stronger plant stem, adversities can make you stronger.
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Emotions are our teachers, and they want to be acknowledged. Don’t suppress them or push them down. Instead, let yourself be sad if that’s what you need to do for a time. Just remember that this is a temporary place and that it is serving a purpose. Oftentimes, simply defining your feelings by naming them out loud can validate them, allowing them to move effortlessly out of the way on their own. Feeling your emotions means you are alive, processing important things, and moving in the right direction.

I learned a new lesson this past winter: I can enjoy the season that is usually the hardest for me. I can see the beauty through the storm. I can enjoy the cold season as I wait for warm, sunny days ahead. A wise man once said, “Sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most.” I invite you to see the beauty in your life, in your struggles, in your difficult relationships, and even in your pain. Sometimes, it is your focus on the problem that is the problem. Look up; look around; look behind you…and enjoy the magnificent views.

 

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