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I kept telling myself to breathe as my heart was pounding out of my chest.
I had just been told that my daughter had gotten held back at customs in the airport and would not be meeting me on the island of Gozo, where she was living. Maybe, she won’t be coming home at all.
My heart sank in despair. It had been years since we had seen each other.
The idea of practicing acceptance and embracing what is was not exactly my thoughts at this time. Although these ideas can save you from yourself, it can be trying when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you as it did when I landed on the island of Malta.
This trip was to be the beginning of my heroine’s journey after losing my sweet sister, Shannon, to cancer. I had embarked on a sojourn, a spiritual journey to heal my heart and to learn coping strategies for the deep, raw grief and loss I felt from the inside out.
Knowing that life often sets us up for a comeback through our setbacks I understood that there was a divine plan in place. I questioned God and the universe—what are you trying to show me here, what am I supposed to learn from this?
My soul was crying out to learn more about this higher purpose. I kept telling myself the following German proverb:
“Adversity is the mother of wisdom.”
And at the same time, I had had enough! I didn’t want more wisdom. I wanted life to work out nicely. Cleanly. Simply. I wanted to see my daughter.
After preparing for months and leaving behind almost everything I owned, I flew to the beautiful pearl of an island called Malta, off the southern coast of Italy. It is surrounded by an emerald green Mediterranean sea and is known for its historic sights, fortresses, and megalithic temples.
I was planning on spending a month on the island of Gozo, the neighboring island of Malta with my daughter, Michaela, who had been living there.
Adversity: a difficult or unpleasant situation—when life isn’t happening the way you had planned
Upon my arrival, when I learned that she wasn’t there and may not be coming back any time soon, I wondered what the heck was going on. Both of us had been excited for months to be with each other again after so many heart-wrenching trials in our family, and now, we had to wait longer.
I later learned that she had run into problems with her visa and she was going to have to return to the United States.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I surrendered once again.
My body coiled into the fetal position, knowing that the lifeline I was wanting so desperately was not going to be there to help me through my grief and adversity.
In knowing full well that I had the power to create my own perspective and experience, I chose to settle into what was happening and not fight it.
My personal options were to surrender to what was right in front of me and try to make peace with it, or resist it and try to fix it. Over the previous six months, I had been surrendering to so much that I felt like I was melting into nothingness.
Questioning My Inner Beingness
I asked myself, “Do I even have space to feel anything else?”
It felt easier to just let go and see what happens. It made no sense to fight it.
My decades of living had taught me to never give up. That adversity and challenges are an invitation to the flight of growing your wings on the way down.
And honestly, I didn’t know if I had the strength to even try to fly.
The tragic events that had occurred in my family prior to my arrival in Malta, left me feeling distraught, angry, lost, alone, and sometimes hopeless. I was crushed when I landed on the island and learned that my lifeline, my daughter, would not be there.
My journey of going it alone continued.
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
Resilience has long been a strong suit of mine. Before I had the tools and skills to process challenges, I would put on my “happy hat” and stuff my feelings because I didn’t know how to process them. While that may work temporarily, in the long run, it caused illness, body aches, depression, and dysfunctional behavior that didn’t serve me.
This time around, I knew I had a choice to either feel stuck and tell myself that ” I can’t go on” or I could be thankful for what is and eventually find a way to bounce back from the pain I was feeling in my heart.
The emotional distress in my body wanted to be released and in the process, it was teaching me resilience.
“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”~ Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven
I knew that I would rise with more strength, courage, and keen insight and in the end, I would be grateful for these virtues.
Acceptance: when one is aligned with the present moment
Acceptance was the pathway to my healing and offered me the gift of wisdom when I would just lean in and embrace life with all the resilience I could muster.
This is where my faith comes alive. God has another plan. It’s one of those circumstances where you know something significant is occurring but you just can’t see it at the moment. The universe is aligning the stars in an art form, completely different than the one we had in mind.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~ Lao Tzu
S,o I surrender. I pray for God’s will to be done. I put Him first and myself second.
I pray for my daughter, Michaela, to be safe. My heart longs to be with her but the pawns have been moved and I can’t change them back.
Surrendering sucks sometimes but it also gives us freedom. It gives me peace and grace to move through the suffering.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl
We can accept or deny this offer. We can point the finger out or within. It’s up to us.
I chose to change myself. Typically when I find myself suffering from a life experience that is overwhelming, I can feel anxiety, strife, depression, or a physical ailment that has manifested from my pain (victim)—or I can choose to change myself. Holding a container around me with compassion and comfort, knowing that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings.
At any given moment, I have the ability to choose to feel differently about what’s happening in the present (nonvictim).
Resistance: pushing back… without resistance, life can flow with the universal will.
The choice is ours as to how we choose to view life. With challenge and pain comes opportunities for growth and transformation.
We have the power to change the way we think and the way we feel. When we choose to move in a forward motion, this decision can change our life for the better and equip us for the future.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” – Confucius
There is wisdom in knowing that it takes only one small step to begin to turn your ship around. Yes, it requires discipline, strength, and resilience to get back up and through to the other side. And in the process, it’s the journey where our lessons lie.
I find that the lessons are totally worth it to stop the suffering that I have chosen.
On the other side of surrender are beautiful gifts bringing peace, love, and happiness. Falling into divine surrender is the safest place I have found to trust with hope and faith that all eventually will be well.
I receive comfort in the knowledge that God truly knows my heart and understands my pain, sorrow, grief, and disappointments.
Each morning that I wake up, I give thanks and know that this day is a new day to begin again. Carpe Diem!
And as I release doubt and embrace trust, my soul and (sole) adventure in life unfold beautifully. And so it is.
I realize everything is perfect, just as it is.