In this month’s blog, I talk about seasons of disappointment, times when the hard work and hopes for fruitfulness are not rewarded in the ways I would like, times when expectations go unmet. Perhaps you can think of moments like that in the past year. So many people I’ve spoken to over the last while have found 2017 and 2018 to be challenging years, in which they’ve experienced unusual levels of struggle and personal sadness. I often find that I avoid reflecting too deeply on these kinds of experiences, but I also know that such a process of deep thought is important. It is when I allow myself to sit with the discomfort and vulnerability of loss and disappointment, that I discover more of who I am and what I need to change. This difficult work is what helps me to gain clarity, perseverance and a sense of purpose. It makes me stronger.
So this month’s prompt is a challenge to do just that. Choose something from the past year that has been a challenge and a struggle for you. Reflect on it. Spend some time freewriting about it. See what comes up. Now make two lists: one for what you perceive as the negatives about the situation, and one for what you think may be positives to come out of it. Don’t be too eager to jump to the positives. You may need to grieve, or allow yourself to feel anger. Reflect on the lessons, or even admit that you may not know what they are. You don’t have to tie the experience up in a neat package. Sometimes just admitting that it’s messy, and that you don’t have answers, is a form of healing. Tuck these reflections away somewhere safe. Come back to them once in a while and see if anything has shifted for you.
So much in our world right now feels perplexing. It’s tempting to want to reduce everything to manageable proportions, to make sense of it. Sometimes we can’t, and that’s okay.