Life is full of ups and downs. Highlights we reminisce about enthusiastically and low times we never want to revisit again. Life can resemble a triple loop roller coaster at times. One that can make us scream with delight, and one that can turn us completely upside down, leaving us gripping in fear and screaming for our very lives. In reflection, I like to look at the tough times, the times when life has me hanging upside down, as stepping-stones.
Have you ever tried to cross a stream without getting wet? What do you do? First, you assess the stream. You look for stones strewn from one side of the stream to the other. Stones you can step on. Some stones are close together. Some stones are spread further apart. Some stones are smooth and easy. Some stones are jagged and treacherous. Some stones are there standing tall out of the water, beckoning you, giving you a safe place to land. Some stones, however, are there but lie just beneath a thin layer of water. You can land safely, but your feet will get a little wet. Once you’ve chartered your best path, you then reach out with your foot. Stretching and striving for a safe place to land. With every stone you reach, you step, growing more confident as you go. Stepping, leaping, jumping, from one stone to the next, until eventually you cross over to the other side of the stream.
Such are the hard times in life. Stepping-stones. The other aspect of a stepping-stone is it’s under your feet. You step on it. You jump on it. You walk on it. You do not hang on to it. You do not cling to it. You do not pick it up, put it in your pocket, and carry it to the other side with you.
Like most people, I have crossed a lot of stepping-stones in my life. Situations which needed to be overcome in order to get to the other side. Sometimes I didn’t chart the course so well. Sometimes I slipped and fell in the water and had to start again. And, sometimes, I made it to the other side safe and dry on my first try.
Have you ever heard someone say; “I’m thankful for the hard times” or “I’m glad it (insert something tragic here) happened”? Me too. And you know what? Every time I hear someone say something like that I think to myself; “What in the hell is wrong with this person?” Thankful? Seriously? Pish Posh Applesauce!
Thankful you didn’t succumb maybe. Thankful you found strength to move on. Thankful someone heard your cries, possibly. Thankful the sun was able to shine again, but thankful for “the hard times?” Ummm… yeah… I’m not buying it (Unless, of course, you are completely psychotic, but then we have bigger fish to fry).
My point being… Why on earth would we give credit to people who set out to devour and destroy us? Why on earth would we give credit to anyone who took any affirmative act to inflict pain or harm upon us (even if that person is within ourselves)? Why on earth would we give the darkness credit for all the great and wonderful things that lie within us? It proves nothing to be thankful for the hard times. I’m sure a lot of us would have liked to live through life with just a little less character.
You didn’t grow in strength and wisdom because of them, but yet, you grew in strength and wisdom in spite of them. The instinct to survive is innate. Give credit where credit is due. The capacity for greatness was within you the entire time. In spite of the harmful person. In spite of the harmful act. In spite of the difficulties. In spite of the situation. In spite of those who wanted you to fail, you are still here. Ready and willing to stand tall and fight another day.
For those who need a reminder, remind yourself of this, daily if need be:
Not because of you, but in spite of you…
I grew strong
I grew in wisdom
I became educated
I believe in myself
I learned to fight
I learned to love
I am passionate
I am compassionate
I look for the good in people
I trust myself
I am beautiful
I am worthy
I am happy
I am at peace
I am adventurous
I am successful
I can be all things I set my mind to
My heart is filled with joy
My future is bright
I am safe
I am not destroyed
I am alive
All of this I am, not because of you, but in spite of you. Stepping- stones. It is all just stepping-stones.