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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Problems & Their Gifts


There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts. Richard Bach

Every situation, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity to heal. A Course in Miracles

These quotes, both of which I've used occasionally to illustrate my writing, are so illuminating if we but take the time to think about them. And of course the more we think about them, the more we are able to put their wisdom to use in our lives in the way we perceive our problems or challenges.

Think back: what have you learned from the major problems in your life? I lost my mother at the age of 19, long before I was anywhere near being prepared - if one ever is - for such an event. Furthermore it happened while I was traveling abroad and she was there one moment, and gone the next when the phone call came. What did I learn? To make every moment count. To use such a devastating situation to grow and understand more about life so that her death would not be in vain. I became so much more of a self-responsible human being due to that. I also learned how important it was to never neglect an opportunity to tell those that we love, that we do indeed love them.

Then my only brother died when I was 23. I went to the funeral with my eldest son of barely three weeks in my arms. More devastation. He too, just as my mother, had died of cancer. What did I learn? The above lesson was reinforced. I learned about the fragility of life and the need to live it at its fullest as long as you have it. I grew a few more inches.

Scarcely 18 months later when my second son was less than one month old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the end it was a false alarm, but until I knew that, it had caused me to take a look at my own mortality. What did I learn? That my own mortality scared me much less than the well-being of my children. That I knew I could deal with this. It showed me another portion of my strength.

About two years later, my third son, then nine months old, was found at the bottom of the pool. It appeared he had drowned and for several very frightening and long drawn-out minutes, it appeared he had died. What did I learn? That I was able to keep my head in an emergency. That I did what was necessary to manage a situation that was totally out of control. It showed me a portion of my strength. 

Only a little later, with those three very small boys of 6, 4 and 2, I went through a very contentious and acrimonious separation and custody battle. It was everything but pretty. I was alone, without my family of origin (they were mainly dead), not in my country, and with very few friends other than those that had befriended me via my spouse. I had never worked. I had no money. And even though I was the one that left, I was deeply, terribly alone. And frightened. So what did I learn? That I was very strong, that I was a survivor, that I was flexible in ways I had never even imagined - a flexibility that allowed me to turn my life around, and above all, I learned to see through other people's eyes and I learned to forgive. The lesson of forgiving, when based on a desire to clear the past of its hold on you, is perhaps one of the most important lessons we can learn in life.

After that there were many more lessons to learn, many more difficult moments. Perhaps one of the most significant was in 2006 when I was diagnosed with cancer again. This time it was the real deal. No false alarm. In the end all was well, but not before going through a very difficult inner process. What did I learn? That the mind is at least as important as the body in a process of healing. That my inner strength was serving me very well. That love is crucial to the process.

Obviously your problems will be different from mine. Better or worse is not a comparison that is germane to this post, because problems are what we make of them. Perhaps what for me was horrendous at some point of my path, for someone else would have been easier, or vice versa, what I was able to bear with relative inner ease, for others would be insurmountable. Problems and challenges are subjective, but we can all look for the gifts in our problems. Because, as Bach says, we have them because we need their gifts.

Photo Credit: Francesco Marino

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Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch



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1 comment:

  1. Wow!! Gabriella, just read this post of yours. It is so to the point, if we think of problems on the surface that is exactly what they are - problems only.
    But look a little deeper and we begin to see just how necessary they were to bring us up the ladder to where we are now, wiser and older in many ways, the actual gift we needed to unwrap. All the process of growing up and just how we perceive our problems.
    And also another thing that came across is that every person has a story to tell and it never ceases to amaze me just what people have gone through in life... to be where they are today. The grass certainly seems greener on the other side of the fence, but the truth is that go a little closer and you see that it isn't all that green, everyone has their share of problems in life.
    Beautiful writing, thanks for sharing.
    Parminder.

    ReplyDelete