Recently I saw a message posted on Facebook that read:
"Some people come into your life as Blessings! Others come into your life as Lessons!!!"
Now if this was, say, 20 years ago, I would have agreed with that statement because I was still living very dangerously in victim mode. Instead, my first thought was “But aren’t Lessons really a blessing, too? And doesn’t that make all people who come into your life a blessing on some level?”
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt considered her husband’s crippling from polio as a blessing in disguise. “He understood human suffering and knew that it could be overcome,” she said. “He also knew that one must have spiritual and physical courage; and, if one had that, there was no situation that could not be met.”
Like many others, I’ve been faced with my own physical challenges, and sometimes it is difficult to see the rainbow through the rain. I’m learning to slow down and re-evaluate, to listen to my body and to appreciate the things I can still physically do, like writing. I’ve also become more empathic and share a deeper alliance with others in pain, something that I sadly lacked in my own upbringing.
I was not raised in a compassionate family.
So if I fell off my bike and skinned my knee, I wasn’t coddled or cooed. No one offered to help me up or say “I’m sorry you hurt yourself.” Instead, I’d get something like “Oh, that didn’t hurt!” or “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”
And I thought that was how my life would always be. Then I moved away from home and learned to take care of myself, to be dependent upon me. I was the one who would fix things. I was the one who would make me feel better. I was the one who would give me comfort. Yep, little ol’, overly sensitive me.
Then one day I met (and later married) the most wonderful, caring man. It took me a long time before I realized he was Heaven sent because I had grown extremely independent by the time Nick came along. I was Super Woman and Wonder Woman rolled up into one and—like that old television commercial used to say—I never wanted them to see me sweat.
Truth is, during our 20+ years of marriage, Nick has seen me through much more than bouts of perspiration. He has lovingly supported me through a barrage of disappointments, grief, accidents and illnesses. I don’t think a day has gone by when he doesn’t tell me that I am his Number One priority. I love that.
Kindness and trust are just two of the lessons I learned from Nick.
He helped me to see that it’s okay to show vulnerability, and that it won’t make me weak or useless. In turn, I learned that in allowing Nick to help me when I truly need it, he receives the opportunity to be of service. That doesn’t mean that he’s taken over my life or that I am a completely weak and useless human being. It’s a blessing to us both because we gift each other the opportunity to be useful—which, in turn, makes us grateful.
For all the times I longed for words of comfort during my childhood, I believe that my family has been my greatest teachers. Whenever anyone asks why I think I am here on this planet at this time, I always say it’s to learn the lessons of love and forgiveness. So I consider my painful experiences to be blessings in disguise. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say the blessons of love and forgiveness!
Are you satisfied with yourself? Do you like the person you’ve become, or are you doing your best to hide it?
Halloween is the season of mystery and veils and it won’t be too long before our doorbells are ringing and we’re dropping pounds of candy into the sacks of tiny trick-or-treaters. For the kids, wearing a costume is fun because it allows them to shed their everyday kid persona in favor of a super hero or a scary monster. The fabric is magical, an instant power source of strength and fearlessness.
There was a period in my life—from the time I was a teenager and throughout my twenties—when I wore an invisible mask of being this confident, carefree spirit. In school, no one knew about my family problems, my fears or the fact that I never, ever felt comfortable in my then 100-pound body. The mask I had created was super strong and impenetrable, at least until I came home and then the fantasy popped like one colossal rainbow bubble.
The power of the mask is pure illusion.
We believe its fabric wall protects us from being vulnerable, that it stops a person from knowing too much about our true identity. Having the need to wear a disguise indicates that you do not feel you are good enough. And it’s no wonder. The advertising industry tells us there is something wrong with us so they can sell their products. Our hair is too gray. Our teeth are too yellow. We’re not wearing the right clothes. We don’t have the right car, the right home. The subliminal message is we’re just not good enough.
One day I was watching an episode of The Talk. As an experiment, all of the female cohosts, guests and audience members wore no makeup that day. I think I gasped. As a woman who has rarely left her home without at least a bit of lipstick and mascara, I found this to be an almost insane act. At the same time, it was also courageous, inspiring and groundbreaking.
So I decided to try my own experiment. I washed my face and ordered a pizza. And when the doorbell rang, I confess my heart skipped a few beats. Could I do this? Could I really do this? When I opened the door, would the pizza guy stutter and stammer—and maybe even scream at my naked face? Would he drop the money and the pizza on the doorstep and run to find an angry mob with pitchforks?
The result was surprising. The pizza guy never flinched. In fact, he was pleasant and smiling and (here’s the key) he actually looked me in the eye without screaming!