“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.”
Anthon St. Maarten, Divine Living: The Essential Guide To Your True Destiny
“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me.
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.”
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
What does one do with a setback, a disappointment, a frustration? If you are smart and lucky, you immediately find something to do, an action to take so that the pain is not allowed to take over. We accept what is, which is not to say we like it, but only accept the reality of it.
“I didn’t get that job.”
“He left me.”
“I’m not where I want to be in life.”
“I didn’t get the grade I wanted.”
“I did it wrong and now I have to start over.”
Everyone has a statement like this. Everyone has struggled with disappointments, some large, some small. But as many philosophers have said, and I paraphrase badly, “It’s not the thing, it’s our view of the thing.”
But by having a different view, does that mean we are in denial? No. It means we have the power to choose our thoughts and our responses. When we’ve done all we can to get what we want or need, and it doesn’t happen, then we choose to take productive action, or we choose despair and defeat.
None of this is new or original, but it’s okay because I’m done worrying even about that. At least I’m taking action. I’m governing my emotions and responses so that I can enjoy all the blessings that surround me. In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis says that Hell is not large, but instead very, very small, smaller than a pebble in this world, smaller than an atom in Heaven. When we focus on disappointments, personal injustices, and regrets too much, we’re focusing on Hell. But we’re focusing on the small things, rather than the large blessing. Sometimes it’s a battle to do so, but I believe we are meant to live in peace and joy and love. We’re supposed to watch Hell shrink away.
Besides, I’d rather focus on Heaven.
I’d rather focus on what is good, on the work I have to do, or the work I can create.
I’d rather focus on my blessings.
This doesn’t invalidate my feelings about my disappointments or pain, but it doesn’t allow them to control me either.
Right now I have so many choices – so many books to read, so many words to write, so many miles to run, so much good I can do for myself or others.
Here’s another thought: maybe my disappointment is only a delay. Maybe it’s all about timing. In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says,
When we surrender to God, we surrender to something bigger than ourselves – to a universe that knows what it’s doing. When we stop trying to control events, they fall into a natural order, an order that works. We’re at rest while a power much greater than our own takes over, and it does a much better job than we could have done. We learn to trust that the power that holds galaxies together can handle the circumstances of our relatively little lives.
When I can rest in what is, I can love more and better. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to love and work and wait. Someone said, “He who loves much does much.” So I’m going to do all I can with the time I have. I’m going to Get Started and Keep Going. And I’m going to watch Hell shrink away.