3 Fringe Benefits of Being Fraught with Difficulty

Pollyanna’s father taught her to look at the good side of things.  Creating the “glad game” he helped to shape Pollyanna’s thinking.  Indeed, there is something to be glad about in every situation, no matter how bleak it may be.  The best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter is considered a classic of children’s literature.  Having such robust optimism allows us to actually see benefits when fraught with difficulty.  Author Andy Andrews punctuates it inside The Noticer, saying “Remember, whatever you focus upon, increases.”

 

I ignored a torn left rotator cuff for longer than I care to admit. I simply went around the difficulties it posed.  It wasn’t until I accidentally slammed my right elbow into a wall that I gave in and sought physical therapy.  Having both arms injured made daily tasks fraught with difficulty.  It also awakened a deeper sense of compassion.  You know that prayer people say not to pray for … the one about patience.  Well, I’ve come to realize the same is true about compassion.  Still, I’ll take all the sharpening God wants to leverage upon me.

 

There’s way too much hurt in this world to ever think I have arrived.  My muscle of compassion needs work; ongoing never-ending exercise.

 

There are benefits to being fraught with difficulty.  Powerful fires can be lit inside our hearts when we choose to see the miracles in the moments. Powerful fires can be lit inside our hearts when we choose to see obstacles as opportunities. Powerful fires can be lit inside our hearts when we choose to grow through the valleys instead of bitterly waiting for the next mountaintop.

 

“It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.” Jones offers up that healthy dose of perspective. (Jones is an optimist character inside The Noticer)

 

I have to thank my friend Sheila Jones (Yes, that’s her real name!) for giving me a little (more) perspective by gifting me a copy of the book. “YOU are a noticer.  I think you’re really gonna like this one,” she said.  From one who makes it her job to notice things – especially situations where people are hurting – those words mean a whole lot to me (visit her at Team Music is Love).

 

Other people often see things in us before we can see them in ourselves. 

 

I have always been a half-full versus half-empty kind of person.  I wrote a blog on how not to indulge the put-downs, insults, and sound-bites of this election season (and life itself). A fellow veteran subsequently “accused” me of being a Pollyanna.  He just couldn’t see what I see. There is something to be glad about in every situation and you can magnify the joy, no matter how bleak it may be.  There are benefits to being fraught with difficulty.  We can still be winners when life plummets us into losses.  Five came to my mind during this morning’s “ice session” at physical therapy.  When we’re fraught with difficulty it can actually heal us (and those we love) in surprising ways.

 

                1. Let the children come! I have seen it in cancer journeys and now I see it again in Alzheimer’s.  Well-meaning adults often shield children from the realities (and thus the blessings too) in coming alongside when grandma forgets … and struggles .. and slips … and sleeps … and eventually passes on.  They fail to realize children have muscles of compassion that need work too.  Our daughter recently came home for a visit and exercised hers; bittersweet tears flowed, as we played the “glad game” and comforted her grandma (my mom) in late-stage Alzheimer’s.  There is something to be glad about in every situation, no matter how bleak it may be. Letting the children come helps them experience the fringe benefits in being fraught with difficulty.

                1. Helplessness can be transformed into helpfulness! We are always going to be limited in some way, no matter how physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually equipped we are.  Then, like a God-wink kind-of-moment (while icing at PT), my morning devotion read: “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Clearly, we will not be made helpless in facing the fires.  We will get through the pain that comes with weakness.  In fact, we will emerge from the fire! We will survive, and perhaps emerge even stronger, smarter, and better at being helpful … no matter how bleak this season may be, no matter how fraught with difficulty.

              1. Hope is a renewable resource! I have seen it again and again.  When my buddy Sebastian was fighting Leukemia right on the heels of his mother’s fight with breast cancer. They could have easily become bitter. Instead they focused on being better, and we came right alongside them, to cheer them on and help renew their hope. When my husband’s heart nearly failed and ultimately put us on a life-changing course, we could have quit giving, doing, being there for others.  But wait! There are boomerang blessings, and boy did we receive them! And, thus we returned them, continuing the cycle as life itself.  That makes hope a renewable resource! No matter how bleak it may be, no matter how fraught with difficulty, there are always fringe benefits.  Can you see them?


 

 

There’s way too much hurt in this world to ever think I have arrived.  My muscle of compassion needs work; ongoing never-ending exercise.

 

 

I’m okay with being called a Pollyanna. I am also okay with being called Tinkerbell. My editor and Spanish translator calls me Tink, saying fairy hope-dust is evident wherever I go.  I consider both pseudonyms a compliment. A little hope-dust goes a long, long way. 😉

 

Have some fringe benefits of being fraught with difficulty? Share them please! 

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