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Difficulties as Opportunities

July 9, 2010

The sunrise (or sunset) over the Oklahoma plains can be extremely beautiful.  Some say it is so colorful because of dust particles in the air.  It was the dust in the Oklahoma Panhandle that usually left me with severe attacks of sneezing and watering eyes.  I didn’t really appreciate the dust.  But when I look at the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset, I see that something that gives me discomfort also can bring great beauty.

Life is often that way.  Many discomforts come our way and we resent them and wish them to go away.  As Lucy said in one Snoopy cartoon, “I don’t want problems!  I want only good things!  Don’t bring problems to me!”

But if we see these discomforts/problems as opportunities for growth, deeper understanding and a channel to develop empathy with others we, and our community, can benefit greatly from them.  In otherwords, difficulties we face can be seen as opportunities to be responsible and to act responsibly.

I’ve faced some severe disappointments at times and the first question that comes to mind is, “Why me?”  But I realize that is not a useful question.  Good things happen to both good and bad people as do bad things.  So the important question rather is, “How will I respond to this negative experience in a way that strengthens and builds opportunities for justpeace in society?”  It is difficult because my first reaction to a bad experience is to fight against it.  But one important lesson we need to learn from the Christmas stoy is that fighting again a bad event only leaves us tired and feeling hopeless.  Responding to it in compassion and wisdom can turn it into something of great benefit – a true Christmas gift.

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