In Spite Of Everything - A Teaching Of Overcoming Adversity
By Jocelyn Bishop • April 26, 2018
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again." (Anne Frank, "Diary of a Young Girl")
Touched by the divine, that message appeared in my newsfeed moments after my mother was convicted as a criminal. My feeling of fear and hopelessness suddenly lifted. That soft-hearted passage gave me a sigh of relief and hope that this would all be okay.
I share with you my story of overcoming adversity, because it reveals my truth. It unlocks my purest form of being, which is displayed for all walks of life to see and discover. There is no shame in dealing with hardship. As a society, we view suffering as a problem. Rather, we should see it as an opportunity that destiny has given us to grow. We are all human, and every one of us face battles. In spite of all the difficulties and suffering, at the end, adversity makes us stronger, more resilient, and more authentic to our true self.
I'm not ashamed or embarrassed to share with you that due to an unfortunate instance; my mother was accused for elderly abuse. For three long years, I have been along side my mom, supporting her as she went through one of the biggest tribulations in her lifetime. Three years of fighting in court, consulting with lawyers to our defense against the district attorney have been filled with tears, calamity, and a tremendous load of stress.
There were dark days when my mom just wanted to give up. In the midst of what seemed like a dark and devastating storm, I knew I had to be the glimpse of light for my mom to see ahead. I started to remove the center focus of our own suffering and instead, I turned outward to the world. I brought my awareness to all the suffering that was happening before our own eyes. As we speak, there are millions of people starving, homeless taking refuge, battling illness, fighting wars, and so forth. The world was suffering just as much as my mom and I, if not, maybe more.
I thought of all our great leaders who have been through suffering and adversity, many great, strong and powerful leaders in this world whom have overcome hardships. As Nelson Mandela mentioned when he was imprisoned, "that these difficulties, with the right way of thinking, can lead you to have great inner strength." Even at their lowest points, they may have felt like giving up, but you know what? They kept going. And so I knew my mom could too.
When we face adversity wholeheartedly we surrender to the unknown, we surrender and have faith that there's a higher power that's leading us to a greater good. We build our trust and our strength through resilience and certitude. We let go of thinking how a situation should turn out to be. We let go of fear and doubt of the future; - and instead we embrace the present moment. We give gratitude and thanks for what this moment is that we are experiencing.
Through many teachings, I've learned the quality of your thoughts and your outlook on life shape the way we tolerate a certain situation. Sometimes facing a hardship may seem like life is not fair. We think to ourselves, "I do not deserve this!" or "why is this happening to me?" We must face these challenges wholeheartedly and change our perspective to think, "What is this trying to teach me?"
Deep down, I felt my mom was being wrongly accused and it hurt my heart to the core that she had to go through this. For someone to actually believe that she would do something like this is beyond my belief. It outraged me to sit in the courtroom while the DA painted my mom as this horrible monster. After over 30 years serving in health care, how can one exploit be the collapse of her career? I knew there was a higher purpose calling for her. It was a blessing in disguise. And in the midst of this curse, there was something better that God had planned for her.
"I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
It's a strange alchemy of mind over matter. If we don't endure any bad, then how can we recognize the good? How could we see the lightness of day without the darkness of night? This collection of experiences, good or bad, are what shape us, they are the fabric of our life. The more we accept and embrace these experiences, the more meaning we can find in our lives. There is a Tibetan saying, "the suffering is what makes you appreciate the joy." The more appreciation you can feel. The more gratitude you have.
When I look back, I see how this hardship had become one the greatest gifts. I've learned to face adversity wholeheartedly, to stay truthful to myself and to preserve my mom's true authenticity. Vulnerability through adversity has been my pathway to feel deeper. To deeply love and care not only for my mom, but also for my family and friends who have supported us along this journey, and even to the people who thought indifferently. Each individual has been a thread to bring the utmost compassion I behold for this world, which resumes to go through adversity.
By opening ourselves up to this experience, we have discovered new opportunities. Fate took over, and at the end the only judge was God. The truth was to be revealed and all would be restored. Through all this hardship, my mom had the courage to move beyond her current life situation and chose to not be a prisoner to the pain of her past. At the end, she reclaimed her life, she was liberated, and she was stronger than she ever thought she could be. She is a walking transformation of life who turned her fear and doubt into love, truth, and wisdom. Her life's journey has been filled with triumphs and tribulations, yet, in spite of everything, she still lives each day with purpose and compassion. She is my hero.
We will continue to face an infinite amount of challenges during our lifetime. Instead of resisting what's brought forward, we shall embrace them as opportunities for our personal growth. Believe it when I say it, because this world is good, and in spite of all the challenges, life is worth living. There is so much beauty in the struggle.
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