We all face storms in life. When storms happen, this can be daunting, because we end up feeling restless and weary. As humans, we all want to feel in control instead of feeling vulnerable, and we all desire the ability to flawlessly tackle every obstacle that jumps in front of us.
But truthfully, experiencing storms can be a blessing in disguise. As the saying goes, “We can’t have a little sunshine without a little rain.” Even if a storm is worse than just a light rain, it’s God who makes it possible for us to get through. Life’s storms can be daunting, but as someone with mental health challenges, I know I’m not alone.
The major question is, how can we get through every storm and navigate our boat to get to where we need to go? I’m not an expert, but I have experience with fighting a lot of mental battles. Perhaps we can draw upon my experiences to help us get through any kind of storm, whether it’s mental, physical or spiritual.
With that being said, here are seven reasons why—from my perspective—people who find themselves frequently facing life’s challenges should never feel completely down.
Challenges improve your character
What do people do when there’s a hurricane, tornado, tsunami or earthquake? We tend to panic, right? That’s totally normal! Facing storms with Mother Nature can be nerve-wracking, but it also can be exciting!
Usually, everyone evacuates when things like this happen. They find a place to be safe, and then they learn to be patient, resilient, calm and trusting of our creator. The more storms we face, the more these survival skills just start to kick in when a challenge arises.
This is what builds our character. When we do things like seek shelter and buy safety supplies, such as food, water and anything else that’s necessary, we feel the comfort inside of us growing. We communicate with our neighbours, loved ones and friends so we can offer each other support. We begin believing in one another. Our character improves, miraculously.
If you experience frequent storms in your life, your faith may be tested to the point that you want to give up, but all the while, your character will be gradually growing stronger.
As an individual with mental health issues, my battle has taught me a lot of life lessons. When my mind is a storm, my safety tools include meditating, praying, doing the things I enjoy, clinging closely to my amazing support system, and of course—let’s not forget—getting through that storm.
Through the turmoil, I have one thing that can guide me along with my safety tools: my heart. Storms are a part of life, and going through challenges is just part of being human. When you face a challenge, after you get some rest, get back up and try again! That’s all we can really do.
The more we overcome, the more confident we get; then we start to work harder and become even wiser, stronger and smarter. During challenges, I try my best to stay poised, and that’s exactly what builds my character: fighting my battles with God’s grace.
Challenges bring you closer to God
When facing a storm, many of us tend to pray to our higher power, God. We ask him to guide us and protect us all from harm. That’s the real blessing that comes from struggle and hardship: Losing something, but gaining something more inside ourselves.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, frightened or stressed out, think of how God sees you as a special human. Remember that he loves you and wants the best for you. Most importantly, think about how he needs you to call on him.
No matter how your day goes, in the end, God’s love never fails. When you’re feeling down, it’s helpful to focus on this permanent blessing, as God and the people he includes in your life show you uplifting signs of his love. God can hear your thoughts and your heart, and he’s silently writing down your story. He has a plan.
Nonetheless, it’s totally normal to panic when we’re faced with an intrusive thought, but my parents always tell me that God knows my worries, fears and doubts, and to take things one step at a time.
If I call God even once, he’ll come 1,000 steps closer. Every day is a chance for us to become wiser by getting closer to God. At the end of the day, it’s him we should lean on before others. If everyone leans on him, their relationships with others will be healthier and happier.
In my case, I absolutely love the relationships I have with my loved ones. We have a strong bond, and we never let anything set us apart. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, and they feel the same about me.
Challenges teach you about happiness
In order to feel happiness, we have to know what sadness really is. Life isn’t just flowers and rainbows; there’s also thunder and rain. All of this balances out, though, and makes life beautiful.
If you’re defining yourself by your emotions, it’s good to talk to someone about that. Your emotions don’t define who you are, even though it’s part of human nature to have strong feelings. You should never feel ashamed about those feelings, but if they’re overwhelming, it’s best to talk about them with a licensed therapist, a psychologist, a doctor or even a loved one.
I never define myself by my emotions, but I accept them, so I can embrace myself fully and be happier.
We all have phases in life, like seasons. When we come out of a cocoon of darkness, we’re enlightened when our wings begin to grow. This is a spiritual journey that includes a transformation, just as every butterfly experiences inner struggles before it’s actually ready to fly. It’s a part of growing up, and feeling that spiritual spark inside ourselves is what leads us to happiness.
Challenges build your support system
The main reason we’re so fragile is that we’re humans, not robots. Human life is filled with storms, sunshine and seasons. We also resemble the storms, the sunshine, and life’s various seasons as we get through each phase one step at a time.
Sometimes, we don’t know which way to go. We don’t know how to move the boat or prevent it from drowning in the huge, gnashing tidal waves. But that’s why God put people in this world: to come together. When we surround ourselves with positive and loving people, we can gain the perspective, knowledge and wisdom we need to move forward.
But what if we’re all alone in the storm? What if no one’s there? That’s the sound of silence, and it’s waiting for you to call. (I’ll note that this isn’t something I’ve personally experienced, because I’m never really alone, and I’m very fortunate to have a support system that gets bigger and stronger each day.)
It’s true that when we have a loving support system, we don’t get to the point of feeling completely alone, but being alone doesn’t really mean you’re supported any less. You have yourself to hold onto, and God can give you the strength you need to get through challenges with his power. If we want more people in our lives, God can also make that possible, as we all live in communities full of people.
Whenever my mind is a storm, I think of what I have, and that helps me get through it. Miraculously, somehow my mind gets back to sunny and clear blue skies again. But despite my smiling face, I’m just like everyone else, with individual obstacles to overcome. It’s my support system that gets me out of that headspace of worrying and doubting myself.
Challenges help you set goals
What’s your strength? We all have weaknesses, but we have strengths, too. There are many, many reasons to be proud of yourself, and you likely don’t even know about all the gifts inside you. If you don’t know your strengths, it’s time to open up those gifts God gave you.
When we find our strengths, we can allow these tools to help us achieve our goals and get us through the obstacles life presents us with. We all have happy days, but curveballs may approach you when you least expect them to. It’s best to be prepared so that when they do come, you can kick each one in the goal instead of just being hit.
Another thing to remember is that even your weaknesses could become your strengths tomorrow. If you’re struggling with something now, tomorrow could bring the total opposite. As we make a habit of using various skills that we have, including our weaker ones, they can all help us accomplish what we want in our life.
When a curveball hits me, I tend to write, bake and read. Those are some of my strengths, and they keep me busy and help me tackle my challenges with a positive attitude.
Challenges prompt self-care
No one except God is flawless in this world. God makes us feel stable when we lean on him, which means that when we take care of ourselves and rest, we can get through life more gracefully. God will never put you through anything that you can’t handle.
When I give myself time every day to feel God’s unconditional love, through meditation and prayer, the answers to my problems get clearer and clearer. The more I fill my cup with self-care, the easier it is for me to get to the top of the mountain and spread love along the way.
Do I find it hard to overcome many obstacles? Yes, absolutely! When my level of self-care goes down, I end up making life and everything in it harder than it really is. Suddenly, each day becomes a new and difficult mountain to climb. However, I know life would be so much easier if I engaged in more self-care and didn’t overthink so much. The less self-care I engage in, the more my negative thoughts are triggered, and then I end up thinking with cognitive distortions and become stuck.
With that in mind, we have to make time each day to do something that rejuvenates us and makes us whole. Trust me; it’s not selfish at all. God wants you to be just as well as everyone else.
Challenges remind us to be grateful
What gets me back up every morning? The people I wake up to! This is my mantra, and with the great people I have in my life, I always have something to look forward to. Whenever I face any hardship, big or small, my family is there for me. I also never hesitate to reach out to therapists, psychiatrists and doctors. When I struggle, I think about all the goodness I have in my life—including myself.
At the end of the day, what matters is that you’re a good person and you’re going to get through. God is full of love, and he’ll help you. Sometimes, the challenges we experience in life can make us even more grateful for what we have on Earth. We’re blessed with God’s grace, and knowing that helps us be thankful for everything.
Every night before you go to bed, it’s helpful to think about all the good things that happened throughout your day. It feels so good, doesn’t it?! I like to write a list of all the positive things that I’m grateful for before I go to bed, and if you’re looking to feel better about yourself and your life, this really works!
Let’s be warriors—not worriers
If you keep these seven silver linings that come with life’s challenges in mind, you should never feel down during a storm. No matter what our challenges are, it’s time for us to be warriors, not worriers, and remember that we’re all travelling through this life together. Keep the peace, my friends, and have a beautiful journey along the way.
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