Growing up, I was the sick child of the bunch. My body could not seem to handle illness. A simple cold would become a sinus infection and turn into bronchitis or an upper respiratory infection. What we would later learn is that I suffered with a weakened immune system. To gain control of my life and understand how to best care for myself, I learned that my body recalibrate's with sleep and clean eating. I can monitor myself for stress triggers, listen to my body's warning signs, and know when I should slow down and take a moment to rest.
I saw the worry in my mom's eyes when she didn't know what was wrong with me. It was frustrating to feel like you never knew when you'd be hit with a migraine or other illness. But instead of focusing on what I was losing, I chose to focus on what my unique childhood experience gave me - and that was a gift of deep empathy for others. Being ill, you come face to face with people in the worst of their pain and the inherent compassion of humans. I saw doctors, nurses, and families come together to do what they could to ease the suffering of a loved one. I saw people collaborate to solve the puzzle of chronic illness and the best prescribed care. I understood that humanity was inherently good, and people sacrificed (sleep, money, time) for each other. I also saw how people find their greatest strength in moments of pain, loss, and frustration.
We look at the negative things that happen in our lives and wonder, "why me?" We should, instead, look to these moments as lessons and opportunities for growth, that leave us with pretty amazing gifts. The dark moments in my life led me to find the light, the small beam of hope, that I could either ignore or step into and grow. Understanding this idea is what led me to discover Greater Than. When you look at the greater than sign, it is essentially made up of two minus signs converging. It is an important revelation. You can't get greater than without the convergence of two negatives.
Instead of focusing on where that loss is guiding us and the gift it leaves us, we tend to focus on what we are losing and who is being removed from our lives. Never imagining that in losing, we are being positioned for something more extraordinary. Think of an arrow that makes its mark. For that arrow to go far, it has to be drawn back and released when the tension is at its perfect spot. Drawback too far, and we break the string, and the arrow falls, not enough pressure, and the arrow falls again. Please recognize that when we feel like life is setting us back, life is building something in us. It asks us to consider the choices we made and the decisions that led us to where we are.
When I look back on the path I traveled to where I am, I can see how the lowest times in my life were the greatest gifts that propelled me forward. They forced me to look further and dig deeper to identify what I really wanted out of life, how I expected myself to show up in the world each and every day, to exude mature decision-making and establish boundaries where people, patterns or places no longer served my soul's journey. We never fully know how our willpower, courage, or confidence is established. However, we come out of these life events - strong and more aware of who we are. And that my friend is a gift!
It is easy to get trapped in the cycle of negative experiences, but we have to remember that things will always get better, especially when we embrace the lesson. And recognizing you've been given a special gift doesn't mean you have to do it alone, either. Sometimes, our strength is found in recognizing that we need help to escape circumstances that become dangerous, abusive, or toxic situations. Realize that you are worthy of so much more and lean on those around you who are there to help you. When I was sick as a kid, a lot of people, especially my mom and my siblings helped me. Now, I am in a position to care for her and others through my actions and words. Helping and being helped go hand in hand and is the ultimate testament to the Greater Than journey.
Being sick so often earlier in my life expanded my perception and made me sensitive to what others were going through. Even as I saw help administered, I also saw how different people were treated. How those without the knowledge or finances to care for their children were ostracized. I started understanding that things would not change unless we were willing to help each other grow. Without knowing, something was being developed in me, a desire to help, understand and make a change. I now see that I started my Greater Than journey at an early age, through what then seemed like minuses, was actually the beginning of my greater than sign being birthed. I wasn't even aware until later how much these early signs were really gifts setting me up to be propelled higher than I could ever imagine. Looking back, I am thankful not only for the lessons, but the time I was given to fully understand and embrace the meaning behind them. I am grateful for the journey that led me here and you . . . the gift, the burgeoning of the GREATER.
COMMENT below and share how this article inspires you to revisit what you may have classified as negatives, to what could have been the forming of your gift of greater?
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