It has snowed this morning. We have been enjoying signs of Spring and rising temperatures, but Winter has returned. It is not a lot of snow, but a reminder that it is still February. It seems that every year about this time we get a bit of early Spring and every year I fall for it thinking that the cold weather and gray days are over. Wrong!
This year it seems that folks are anxious to see the sun shining and the world happy. We take good times for granted when we are in the midst of them and seldom stop to think that things could be any different. And then a cold spell hits in our lives and it feels as if the gloom will hang over us forever. It seems a cold spell has hit our nation and world right now and people are ready for sunnier times.
How do you handle difficult times? The true test of our character doesn’t come when things are running along smoothly, it comes when things begin to get difficult. How quickly does your faith start to deteriorate into complaining and feeling abandoned by God? It might be helpful if we all had a little meter hanging around our necks that sounded an alarm when we started moaning of worrying. We might be surprised by our own thoughts and actions.
It seems that human nature tends towards complaining. I don’t know why we do this. We just seem to be easily annoyed and put out. We are unhappy if we have to wait in line. We get testy if our food is cold. We take the weather as a personal affront. If someone cuts us off on the freeway we can be ready to verbally, if not literally, take their heads off! And this is in the good times!
For me, there are two antidotes to gloom that I find helpful and that is to practice gratitude and compassion. When I begin to feel negative it can easily spiral downward rather quickly, gaining momentum as it goes. By stopping my thoughts and contemplating what I am most grateful for and by focusing on the positive, the negative loses its foothold and my mood immediately begins to improve.
When I find others around me struggling to act like decent human beings, looking at them through the lens of compassion makes all the difference. Perhaps they were up all night with a sick child. Or maybe a spouse just lost a job. They could be tending a sick parent and totally worn out. Sometimes people are prisoners in their own lives to addiction or mental illness or a list of difficult struggles that we could never imagine.
By viewing others with compassion I am offering the space for them to step into. By not reacting badly to their bad behavior I present another option for them. This provides a space of unconditional love that can be the one thing that gives them hope to keep on going. Isn’t that what I need when I’m having a difficult day? Understanding and compassion?
As we move through some trying times, perhaps we can remember to hold gratitude in our hearts for everything that we are thankful for. At the same time we can reach out with compassion to our fellow travelers. This will make a difficult time far easier for everyone. One person can make all the difference. Let that person be you.