Cherish the Struggle
Lizzy oversees corporate communications for a nationally known software developer. Over a five-year period, while maintaining her significant work responsibilities, Lizzy had four miscarriages. Four. Miscarriages.
Her story has a happy ending. Lizzy and her husband persevered through a successful fifth pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Heather.
Lizzy feels called to write a book about her journey so she can share all she learned with other hopeful parents struggling with fertility issues. A mutual acquaintance introduced us, and Lizzy called me for advice about how to find a literary agent (something I had done successfully last year).
Lizzy’s voice was buoyant and joyful. She said she cherished (yes, cherished) the struggle. “I don’t feel like I gave birth to my daughter, but that my daughter gave birth to me. I feel much more alive and appreciate big and little things in a fresh way that I don’t think would have been possible any other way. My team tells me I’m more approachable and I know that I don’t get as stressed over things I can’t control. It brought my husband and me much closer. In the long run, it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. I discovered what I am made of.”
That’s gratitude for you. It wakes us up to all of the unintended, unexpected positive outcomes that shift our hard luck stories into thank-god-that’s-over-but-wow-look-at-all-the-good-that-came-out-of-it-stories. Gratitude allows for Honorable Closure, clean completions, grace and grit.
And yes, sometimes it takes months or years until we gain this perspective. I asked Lizzie if she ‘cherished her struggle’ while it was going on. She said she refused to lose faith and chose to believe that everything that happened was just one more step toward motherhood. And she didn’t fully ‘cherish’ the whole experience until she had a baby girl to call her own.
If you are currently struggling with some loss, disappointment or betrayal, it can help to invoke the question, “how might this work out better for me, even if I can’t see it right now.” Take 5-10 minutes and journal your answer. This question invites you to see beyond the obstacle, having faith (or at least curiosity) in an unexpected conclusion that is even better than you might imagine from this moment in time.
Cherish your struggle and you loosen its grip.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Can you recall a hardship, disappointment or loss that—after some period of time you eventually became grateful for? What was it? How is not getting what you want, or getting something different (or later) than you wanted a good thing? What are you struggling with now that might benefit from gratitude?
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