Life’s trials are often unexpected. Always changing. Never ending.
Think of a time in your life that presented more challenging circumstances than any other. Pause to remember a specific obstacle you overcame. Or chapter so demanding, it’s hard to believe you made it to the conclusion.
Next, think of a memento you possess from that time or event. It could be a picture, trinket, or any object that personifies the arduous path you traveled. Now, go and retrieve the thing. (I’ll wait.)
Okay, got it? Put it in a visible place. Somewhere you’ll see it often. Why, you ask?
Because you’re going through something difficult right now, and you need a reminder that you are strong. You’ve been through worse. You pushed forward once before, emerging victoriously over a laborious challenge. And you can do it again. God will see you through. One of my favorite quotes says: “Things will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.”
My own personal reminder is a faded green coffee mug. The gold emblem with the name of a school I worked for in Silicon Valley is nearly worn off. But it serves its purpose as a token. Representing a time I don’t want to forget.
A new adventure and bold decisions brought me and my husband to California in January of 2004. I was thankful to find a teaching job in the middle of the school year, at a prestigious institution filled with Harvard-bound students. My schedule included five different preps. Algebra, Pre-Algebra, Geometry, Computer Science, and one so miserable I purposely erased it from my memory. (No, it wasn’t underwater basket weaving.) I taught all day and graded all night. A typical day beginning at 7 am and ending at 11 pm.
Unlike kids I taught previously, many of my students were excessively studious. Way too serious about life for thirteen. Can you imagine a group of teenagers needing encouragement to goof off once in a while? I know, right?!? One morning I was desperate to liven things up, so I performed a cartwheel in pre-algebra class. Thank God nobody caught that on video.
Being new in town and having a husband who traveled for work meant I had no life. And I had never felt so alone.
My dogs destroyed something in our corporate apartment daily. A low point was the time they ate the leg of the dining table, threw up on the bed, and someone stole the comforter after I hung it on the porch to dry. (It was hideous, anyway.)
A train charged by, just 30 yards from our sliding glass door, whistle blowing promptly at 2:00 AM every morning.
Our house in Texas sat on the market for 7 months. I cried for days when our realtor showed us a house well outside our price range that literally backed up to the interstate.
No individual situation was debilitating. But add them all up, and it was a hard time.
In the midst of all this, the phone rang one cold Spring afternoon. Heartbreaking news traveled thousands of miles. I had lost my uncle at a tragically young age.
Life is hard. And that year was a particularly awful time.
I don’t believe in lamenting the past. I don’t suggest dwelling there, either. But I do think, from time to time, we need to remember our battle scars.
So on mornings when I’m discouraged by a current struggle, I get out that green mug and drink my coffee from it. Knowing very well, if I made it through that time in my life, I can make it through this too.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato
What about you? Do you have something you use as a reminder of your inner strength?