This blog has been on an unscheduled hiatus for the last few months, due in part to some major life changes my family made last year. We’re now a month on the other side of what is probably the most stressful period our family has ever experienced, but we’ve come out of it with new perspective about ourselves.
Rather than gripe and moan over the stress we experienced, it’s far better to reflect on our experience and glean as much as we can. What can we learn from our failures? What weaknesses were exposed that we can work to strengthen? How can we better ourselves in the aftermath? In what ways can we love and support one another better?
Those are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself recently, and there’s quite a bit more soul searching to do. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from this recent season of life.
- The truth, though sometimes painful, will set you free. At one point during this stressful time my wife looked me in the face and lovingly but sternly told me in essence, “I’m disappointed in you, and here’s why.” Did it hurt? Yes, but the hurt I’d been causing her was far worse. Her tough love was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment, and once I heard it I had to either decide to blow it off or take responsibility and grow.
- Sometimes the best option is to give up. Not to say that the first reaction to hard times should be throwing in the towel, but there are times in life when the wisest course of action is to just stop what you’re doing. Remember the old saying about insanity? Albert Einstein said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There are times when you are simply not equipped to take on a task, so the best choice you can make for everyone’s benefit is to find someone who can help you, or find someone better equipped to take over.
- Stress reveals weaknesses, so do something about them. Times of stress reveal so many things: flaws in our character, inadequacies, lack of knowledge, deficiencies in relationships, and so much more. When those weaknesses are revealed we have two choices. We can either work to change or do nothing and stay the same. My family is now working through a season of life where we are investigating those weaknesses and doing what we can to change ourselves for the better. Even then, that’s not permission to check out of life, but a wake up call that should drive you towards change.
- You fail, but you’re not a failure. I’ve written about this idea before, but it’s hard to remember sometimes in the cold, dark moments of life. It’s so easy to feel like an utter failure when plans don’t go according to plan, but it’s simply not true. The truth is that failure primarily comes from three sources. One, we fail when we take no action when we could or should have. Two, we fail when we do the wrong thing. And three, we fail when we try our best, but our (current) best simply isn’t good enough. Without going into details, that third source of failure is what my family experienced. Months of training and preparation weren’t enough for us to manage the monumental task we took on. Yes, there are things we could have done better. Specifically, there’s much I could have done better. But in the end, the results would have been the same. We only failed because we tried to do something most people would never consider doing.
I could go on and on, but at this point the best way I can wrap this up is to say that we’re different people than we were just a few months ago. We see the world in a new light, and for all the pain we experienced, we don’t regret what we’ve gone through together. Now there are major changes underway in our lives, and I’m full of hope that our best days are yet to come.
Also published on Medium.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.
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