Over the last couple of months my patience has been tested, and I am oddly thankful that it has.

The last couple of years, since my mom passed away, I have noticed a reoccurring cycle of suffering. It starts around October 31st and continues through February 17th. It embodies all the holidays, my birthday and concludes on my mother’s birthday. It isn’t a season I have found joy in at all, until this morning.

I am reading through “The Book of Joy.” This morning I sat down with my coffee, my heated blanket and read the chapter of suffering and adversity. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu along with Douglas Abrams have created a safe place to look back at suffering in this chapter. In their own words, they tell about their suffering and how it has taken them to places they would have never been capable of going. For one, their friendship would have quite possibly never been. Had the Dalai Lama been able to stay in his country and live out his intended life it’s possible no one would have had his story of peace to comfort them in their time of unrest.

Archbishop Tutu explains that suffering can either embitter us or ennoble us and that the difference lies in whether we can find meaning in our suffering.

While sitting in my quiet, safe space, my eye’s started to water, and my heart calmed.

I can get through the loss of my mother’s love and the validation I need from her if I focus on the meaning of my suffering.

I can get passed the frustration of the balance of my checking account when I concentrate on the reasons why I have made my choices. I have chosen to homeschool our children and be the keeper of my home. It isn’t a vacation, but it isn’t exactly suffering either.

I am writing my story. It isn’t bringing in lots of readers, it isn’t lucrative at this point, and it hurts like the telling of one’s pain does, but I am not in the face of someone’s hate, being crushed under their feet.

I sat back into my couch and meditated on the truth of this season’s focus. As much as I have been succeeding in looking for love and living in it, I have also let my attention drift to my suffering. I don’t deny the pain of loss, and the confusion of what to do about it isn’t a walk in the park. I have spent many days laying in my bed curled up with my children just resting in that love to make it through the day. It has come to my attention however that I am the only one that can get myself out of this pain focused mindset and shift to seeing compassion for the ones that have caused some of this pain.

Today I can choose to see my pain as a path to where I am going.
Today I can choose to love and show compassion towards the people and circumstances that have had me emotionally imprisoned.
Today I will put time into being thankful for my pain and let it take me to a place I could have never been without it.

May your eyes focus on where you are and where you are going. Seeing through a lens of compassion for yourself and the circumstances that lead you here.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.