Salisbury Press

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Life’s burdens need not defeat us

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by The Press in Opinion

Whenever I see an ad or a label proclaiming, “One size fits all,” I know the item will fit almost nobody. At least it won’t fit very well.

I get the same feeling when I hear cliché phrases meant to encourage or sympathize.

Recently, I heard a woman tell an acquaintance who had just lost her 11-year-old son, “God never gives us more burdens than we can bear.”

The bereaved mother became irate.

“I disagree. This is much more than I can handle,” she retorted.

Probably she was right. I have seen many people burdened with horrible problems far too heavy for one person’s shoulders.

And that’s the key, according to a friend who is battling cancer for the third time.

She says her faith is strong and she relies on God to give her strength to bear these burdens and continue the fight.

“I’m not walking alone,” she insists.

Other friends dealing with tragedies and terminal illnesses have expressed similar faith-based thoughts.

Why then do some folks, when confronted with troubles, turn to alcohol, drugs or suicide?

Apparently they feel alone and helpless. Maybe they lack faith in a higher being.

Maybe they lack friends or a support system to turn to for strength.

Maybe they already have mental health problems and cannot (or will not) seek help.

Thus, any additional burdens in their lives can feel overwhelming and put them over the top.

We don’t reach our senior years without facing adversity, from losing loved ones to perhaps suffering abuse or poverty or failed relationships, not to mention countless other difficulties all of us face at some point.

Some of us survive and may even become stronger. Others give up.

What strikes me most about the resilient people who seem able to overcome any life challenge is their optimism and desire to get on with life.

No situation feels hopeless to them. They face adversity head on.

And they focus on today. No lamenting about past behaviors or actions that might have caused the problems.

They know all their energies have to be directed solely on today.

They know they have work to do to get back on track, to heal mentally and physically.

The more I think about their great attitude, the more I realize they have the blueprint for a successful life, whether that life is beset with harsh burdens or not.

I realize how useless it is to worry about yesterday or tomorrow.

Yesterday is gone. It has forever passed beyond our control.

Yesterday is history. And history cannot be rewritten.

On the other hand, why worry about what might happen tomorrow? Tomorrow is yet to be born.

Like yesterday, tomorrow is beyond our reach.

All we can control is today. Surely we can fight the battles of just one day.

That is exactly what the brave, optimistic folks who are bearing suffering and pain are doing.

They are not bitter about the past or worried about imagined problems in the future.

Grateful for each moment, they are facing their burdens one day at a time.

They are living fully for today.

May we all follow their example.