The Beauty of Trials

ankora-bay-easter-island-rainbow-935-1362427568

 

 

Are you in that time and space where …

the nights just seem so long,

the winter just seems to drag on,

the rough patch just got rougher,

Are you in a difficult lot in life right now?  Wandering and wondering …

Why is this happening to me?

This isn’t fair!

How can I carry on?

What will my future be?

 

Much as we hate it, life has its ups and downs: disappointments and betrayals, broken relationships, creditors on the door, lost a job, lost a home, lost a loved-one. For some people, it may have seemed like it’s an all-time low or that the roller-coaster is never coming back up.  Trying times like these leave us hurt, frustrated, anxiety-filled and even depressed.

In the darkest of my nights, tears just rolled down; the grieve was so deep, no words can describe.  During these deepest moments of despair, I cried out, desperately to Jesus and guess what – He met me there!

There and then, He called my name and told me ‘to let go of the past’ and that ‘He is there for me’ and ‘He is enough for me’.  Through it all, I’ve learnt that He loves me more than I can ever imagine and He is always there with me.

So then, why the suffering and pain? I’ve learnt much from these trying times, how to forgive some people and rejoice with others, how to be content with what I have and quit complaining, how to feel for people, how to give and receive love.

Just like there’s no victory without a battle, no rainbow without the rain, no dawn without dusk (and we know the darkest hour lies just before dawn) – There can be no growth without pain.

When life gets overwhelming, everything can seem to crash in together simultaneously, leaving you with no room to breathe. This is when you need to breathe in the air of Jesus – cry out to Him. He will come and hold you, heal and love you, and take you through this season.  He’s been there for me, I’m sure He’ll be there for you.

 

Whatever your circumstances, know that God is working behind the scene, 24 x 7.

Whatever happens know that God has not left you.

It may not be what we expect but then again, how would He be God if He always meets our expectations?

Nonetheless He will bring you to a flourishing end and it will be more beautiful than what you can imagine.

 


Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Hope for the Broken Hearted

beauty,ashes,hope,broken hearted

 

For there would be no sunrise without dark nights, … , no restoration without brokenness.  

 

Life is unpredictable.  The only thing constant is change, just like the four seasons.  And much like the many parodies of life, the human heart is so intended for contrast that, without one, we would not comprehend (appreciate) the other.  For there would be no rainbow without the storm, no child birth without pain.   If we follow this reasoning, it is possible to grow seeds of joy in the soil of sorrow!

As the famous author C.S. Lewis so aptly put it – a heart that is so sheltered from the possibility of wreckage “will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

What’s wrong with an ‘irredeemable’ heart?  To answer that question, rather let’s ponder on “What good is an irredeemable heart?”  Can it spread forth unconditional love; is it capable of genuine magnanimity, let alone, even appreciate true love?   See the picture?  An irredeemable heart is a heart of stone, impervious, insensitive, and incapable of growth.

Hence, perhaps we need to suffer the agony of a broken heart before our heart can be restructured and restored into a more beautiful heart.  Given that, I’ll gladly have my shabby heart wrecked and shattered.  So it can be restructured into something more splendid than before!

Though the process is painful and uncertain, knowing the end result is reason enough to help me focus on staying hopeful.  So besides having an attitude of joy, I’m journeying on with an attitude of gratitude, in anticipation of the beauty to come.

If this is what you’re going through right now, I welcome you on this trail.  Though our paths may be different, I believe we’re getting onto something more magnificent in time to come.  Never lose faith and Joy!

 

Isaiah 61:3 – he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning,

 

 

Joy in Sorrow – Beauty for Ashes

sun rise, hope,inspiration,joy,life,love

For there would be no sunrise without dark nights, … , no restoration without brokenness.  

– Reflections from the book ‘Overextended’ by Lisa Harper.

 

I’d like to warn you that this post is fairly long, I did not split this into 2 posts as that would lose the flow.  So please persevere and read on to the end …

When things are going our way in life, promotions, financial wealth, good  health, blossoming relationships, lovely new house/ car, and so on… it’s easy to be joyful, singing and dancing, looking to others and wondering why other people are acting like depressive maniacs, self- pity  partiers, low morale mongers indulging in sour grapes.

What happens when events take a turn in life, if we’re stricken with disease, incur financial losses, get betrayed by those closest to us, faced with career setbacks?  When the weather changes from a bright sunny day to a storm, can we still sing and dance in the storm? Especially when the world seems to be passing us by, friends are getting married or enjoying lovely marriages and kids, catapulting by leaps and bounds in their career or financial advances.

Under such circumstances, some people will spiral into depression, wallow in self-pity, become bitter, sour and even resentful of those who are seemingly in the celebration seasons of their lives.  After all, emotions (both positive and negative) are so attuned to our human nature.  I have to admit for once that I am a highly emotional girl.  Even the stormy weather can make me feel gloomy.  Being trained in psychology, I know far better about the colored lenses of depression and how behavior is affected by the cognition..  Nonetheless, that is easier said than done, as I’ve been down that road before (many times).  No matter how I convince myself to steer away from the negativity, I can’t help it!

Yet, there are some people who can still stay steadfast, purposeful.  Though, not all the time smiling, they choose to focus on the positive.  Though they feel down at times, they choose not to indulge in a pity party, more than a slice of chocolate cake.  What is the secret?

Life is unpredictable.  The only thing constant is change, just like the four seasons.  And much like the many parodies of life, the human heart is so intended for contrast that, without one, we would not comprehend (appreciate) the other.  For there would be no rainbow without the storm, no child birth without pain.   If we follow this reasoning, it is possible to grow seeds of joy in the soil of sorrow!

As the famous author C.S. Lewis so aptly put it – a heart that is so sheltered from the possibility of wreckage “will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

What’s wrong with an ‘irredeemable’ heart?  To answer that question, rather let’s ponder on “What good is an irredeemable heart?”  Can it spread forth unconditional love; is it capable of genuine magnanimity, let alone, even appreciate true love?   See the picture?  An irredeemable heart is a heart of stone, impervious, insensitive, and incapable of growth.

Hence, perhaps we need to suffer the agony of a broken heart before our heart can be restructured and restored into a more beautiful heart.  Given that, I’ll gladly have my shabby heart wrecked and shattered.  So it can be restructured into something more splendid than before.!

Periods of trials and tribulations in life serve to strengthen not only our minds but our hearts.  Psychologically speaking, that could be the process of ‘Self Actualization’, thanks to Maslow’s theory.  However, in layman’s term, I believe it’s a process whereby I am the clay and my potter is remolding me into a vessel for higher purpose.

Though the process is painful and uncertain, knowing the end result is reason enough to help me focus on staying hopeful.  So besides having an attitude of joy, I’m journeying on with an attitude of gratitude, in anticipation of the beauty to come.

If this is what you’re going through right now, I welcome you on this trail.  Though our paths may be different, I believe we’re getting onto something more magnificent in time to come.  Never lose faith and Joy!

 

(This post is inspired by an excerpt from Lisa Harper.)

Retrospection

thankful

 

 

As we look back at the year, let’s not look back in anger,

neither should we look back in defeat.

Instead look back with gratitude.

Be thankful for the afflictions, for they have made your heart stronger.

Be thankful for the betrayals, for they have made your eyes brighter.

Be thankful for the struggles, for they have made your will tougher.

Be thankful for all of life’s insights for they have made your mind free-er.

For a phoenix cannot rise up from the flames without first being burned to the ground.

So let’s retrospect with thanks and prospect with hope for 2014 !

 

Maslow’s Self-Actualisation Theory

For the Psychology inclined, dig this:

 

The fulfillment of one’s potential, or self-actualisation is regarded to be critical to psychological well-being and optimal mental health (Rogers, 1959).  Maslow proposed that self-actualisation is achieveable only when basic needs (physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs) are fulfilled.  According to Maslow, self-actualisation includes being reality-focused, problem-focused, opened to experiences, receptive of self and others and autonomous (ruled by own values).  Self-actualised people may show negative attributes including stubbornness and detachment (Maslow, 1943).

In a study that investigated personality characteristics which correlate with self-actualisation.   Self-actualisation correlated negatively neuroticism but positively with extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.  All correlations were significant.  Self-actualisation is an important concept within humanistic personality theories.  These theories believe that everyone has the capacity to develop their full potential and achieve self-actualisation (which is important to psychological health).  Hence, the focus is on helping people become more competent and achieve optimal mental health (Rogers, 1959).  In this light, further understanding of self-actualisation will be useful in counseling settings as psychologists help clients advance towards optimal mental health.

 

Further Reading

 

References

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Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1980). Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective

well-being: Happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social

Psychology, 38, 668–678.

Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEOPI-R) and

NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI).Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment

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Costa, P.T., McCrae, R.R., & Dye, D.A.  (1991).  Facet scales for agreeableness and

conscientiousness: A revision of the NEO Personality Inventory.  Personality and

Individual Differences, 12(9), 887-898.

Dahl, R.J., Wakefield, J.A., Kimlicka, T.M., & Wiedersteik, M.   (1983).  How the

personality dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion and psychoticism relate to self-

actualisation.  Personality and Individual Differences, 4(6), 683-685.

DeNeve, K., & Cooper, H. (1998). The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality

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Draguns, J.G., Krylova, A.V., Oryol, V.E., Rukavishnikov, A.A., & Martin, T.A.  (2000). 

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Hayes, N., & Joseph, S.  (2003).  Big 5 correlates of three measures of subjective well-being.

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Jensen-Campbell, L.A., & Graziano, W.G. (2001). Agreeableness as a moderator of

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