The movie Tommie Boy is one of my favorites. And one of my favorite lines is near the end. Someone sabotaged Callaghan Auto Parts, laying waste to their local town due to massive layoffs. Just when the two are at their lowest, the bench they are sitting on collapses under their weight. As both characters sit on a wooden pile of debris, Tommy says “Coulda done without that.” As you know, it is immediately following this moment that Tommy comes up with a hair-brain idea that saves the company and the town. They had their breakthrough.
Bliss and a profound sense of freedom are often on the other side of a breathrough. It's because of the growth that has occurred after we learn a lesson. On the front side of a breakthrough, there is usually heartache, confusion, or tragedy as well as a feeling of being 'wrecked'.
No one in his or her right mind wants to go through this feeling of being ‘wrecked’. It’s painful. It reminds us of how fragile we are and how little control we have. But we can find solace in the midst of this because we can know that we are not far from a breakthrough. The kind of breakthrough that will most likely change everything in our personal lives. You’ve experienced this on some level before haven’t you? That thing that you thought was the worst turned out to be a huge blessing. With hindsight it’s simple to look back and describe this experience with lofty language. But in reality, it was often a messy and sloppy season for us. We didn’t make the right choices. We didn’t always choose better. But in the end, we were able to discover our lesson. We felt the refreshing wave of our breakthrough crashing over us in new and inspiring ways.
We have a choice in the midst of difficult times. Often we resign ourselves to the wrong story (limiting beliefs) and find some comfort in our familiar sad tale. “This always happens to me. Things never go my way. They always screw me over. I’m the only one that this ever happens to.” These stories suck on several levels. They suck the life force and energy from us. They suck the kindness and compassion from us. But we cling to them like a raccoon clings to a branch while floating down a river. It's because we are comfortable with them. We know them so well. We tend to find significance in these stories and we know how to connect with others when we tell these stories. It’s pitiful, and we know it, but we decide it is better than facing the fear of the unknown. Plus, we get the added boost of attention, significance, and connection that we seek when we share our sad story.
So how does one find grace and hope during these difficult seasons?
Know that greatness is just around the corner
By being aware that our breakthrough is coming we create a crack in our reality big enough for hope to come in. Hope that fuels us with the energy we need to continue on. This simple ‘reframing’ of our circumstance can make the load feel lighter and give us the clarity to make healthy choices in the midst of the pain and suffering.
Let go of the comfortable and ‘familiar’ story
Stop telling that sad, weak and disempowering story to yourself and to everyone else. This isn’t happening ‘to’ you… it’s happening ‘for’ you. It’s more of a Divine storm. And the difference between the two is life giving and empowering. It’s the difference between joyful gratitude and lonely sorrow. This is where the power of choice comes in. You can choose which story you will tell yourself and those around you. I'm not asking you to lie. Nor am I asking you to avoid the pain of your present circumstance. But I am asking you to step back, switch to the panorama view, and see that there is more going on for you than meets the eye. This is most definitely a choice.
Remember that this season will come to an end
Nothing lasts forever, unless we choose to make it last. Ironically, the thing we want to come to an end the most is often perpetuated because we believe that it is larger than it is. Ask yourself, “Am I making more of this than is there? Does this really have ‘that’ much power over me or could I choose to keep my head up, to learn from this moment?” Your difficult season is just that… a season. It has a beginning, middle and an end. Take pleasure in knowing that the end is coming.
Being wrecked doesn’t have to drown us. It’s merely the step before we experience incredible freedom. Exercise your power of choice and prepare yourself for your breakthrough.
“When you are standing in the middle of a storm you have two choices: Pray to God that it goes away. Or, start praying to God that he gives you the wisdom to figure out why you're standing in the middle of a storm.” - Shannon L. Alder
"The biggest breakthroughs in consciousness occur when things are difficult; when we have a choice to fall to the worst of ourselves or rise to the best of ourselves." - Yehuda Berg
"The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility." - Thomas S. Monson