Finding Gifts in Everyday Adversity

With the start of the year, I am focusing once again, on a practice I find difficult to maintain. The practice is reminding myself that things (and people) which anger, distract, upset, or confuse me can also be used as gifts that challenge me to be more conscious, compassionate and centered in God as Love. By God I mean the positive living Presence within and without each being. By Love I mean that caring, joining, joyous aliveness we fundamentally crave, and I believe are here to express.


Life provides me many more opportunities to receive such gifts than I would consciously choose. Someone cuts me off in traffic, oh joy, another opportunity! I drop the food I was trying to put in my mouth, on my new clean clothes, another celebration? Someone screaming obscenities on the street sees me notice him and yells “Faggot,” more practice. Reading the fear and hate filled messages from most of the Republican presidential candidates is another level of challenge.


I find it helpful to recall the following saying: “The problem in wrestling with a pig is that while you both get muddy, only the pig enjoys it.” When another is angry, disrespectful or even intentionally baiting me, how can I respond without “wrestling with the pig?”


This is where the struggle to live spiritual values becomes immediate. I can choose not to be drawn into the mud, no matter how tempting it may feel. A righteous rage is so tempting. I get to feel powerfully angry while feeling in the right. Yet when I go with it, I become other than I want to be. It is like a sugar high; charged up at first, drained and regretful later. This is not to suggest that one deny feelings of hurt, fear, anger or even rage. It is making the choice not to be controlled or run by them.


Sometimes people get confused thinking that if I am an optimist or believes that God is good, then feeling angry or having vengeful thoughts means I am a failure or a hypocrite. Being human each of us is open to the full range of possible feelings, thoughts and reactions. Pretending they don’t existence doesn’t help; actually it can make things worse. Feelings denied to conscious awareness have a tendency to emerge less consciously when an opening arises, too often at the worst possible moments.


Living a spiritual life for me means choosing over and over again to take the high road, to react with honesty and compassion. It does not mean I will always succeed, but it does mean I can and do renew my intention to be the best expression of divine love that it is in me to be. Remembering to seek the good in not-so-good experiences, the gifts from set backs and tragedies, is an important way to reinforce living a more compassionate, spiritual, joyous and grateful life.

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This entry was posted in Attitude, Compassion, Consciousness, Emotions, God, Gratitude, joy, Love, Relating, Spirituality, Truth, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finding Gifts in Everyday Adversity

  1. Gwen says:

    Nicely said. Jump into the mud or not!?!?! Last week I was in a situation where as a consultant I was being made a scapegoat for a problem one of their employee was responsible for. I found myself unsure how to respond. If I didn’t defend myself I would look guilty and lose the project, if I told the truth I would be pushing the employee under the bus. I chose to take a dip into the mud with the pigs and state my position and not implicate the guilty party. I used general term, not specific. I felt it was important for me to jump into the mud or lose my reputation and the project. Deciding when to jump into the mud is sometimes necessary, but I hope I did it with grace. LOL

    • Obviously I was not there, but I am not so sure you “jumped into the mud.” Stating your truth is not slinging mud. Even though you knew who was responsible, you chose NOT to name names, but let the client know the direction the problem came from. It is their responsibility from there on. Taking the high road usually does not mean taking the fall if you are attacked; for me it means not attacking in kind but responding from truth with what compassion you have. You seemed to have found a way to ‘thread this needle’.

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