I woke up with a jolt.
For a few seconds, I didn’t fully realize where I was. After several quick breaths, I rubbed my eyes to get my bearings. Moments later, those eyes began to fill with tears.
The nightmare had happened again.
It was a dream I’d been having for nearly a month. The problem was that the dream was something I yearned to be true, and every time I awoke from it, the pain of my reality set in all over again. I didn’t want to be in reality. I wanted the dream.
We often find ourselves facing dark times in life. It seems to be the way this reality works. One moment, we are standing on top of the world, celebrating, enjoying everything that is going right for us. The next moment, it all crashes down and we find ourselves wallowing in an ocean of self-pity, blame, fear, and hurt.
A few years ago, when the nightmares were hitting me hardest, I found myself in the darkest time of my life. If I couldn’t have the thing I wanted most, I felt like my life didn’t really matter. I fell into the abyss of depression.
The story of how I came out of that darkness may not be one that is made into a Hollywood movie. I didn’t go to war and come back blind or missing an arm or a leg. I wasn’t born with a debilitating disability. I didn’t face the odds and succeed in spite of them.
But it is my story.
Whatever your story might be, do not diminish it. It is yours, and no one else’s.
I often hear people say things like, “It could be worse. You could be that guy.” Then they point to poor soul who seems to have it worse than the recipient of their consolation.
Pointing out the misfortune of someone else may not be the best way to reinforce a positive mindset. More importantly than that, it diminishes the pain of the person in question.
You see, while we may look at someone else and say, “I’m having a tough time, but that poor fellow has it worse,” the funny thing is that they might be doing the same to you.
I know this to be true from a conversation I once had with a friend. We were on a walk, talking about the things going on in our lives, trying to give counsel to each other and work through the issues. It was during the dark time in my life when the nightmares were occurring.
My friend was going through something that seemed insurmountable. I couldn’t believe that he was able to walk and talk like a normal human being, much less report to his job and keep pushing forward. I thought that there was no way I could get through what he was going through.
As we strolled along, he listened to my story for a few minutes, and then stopped. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I don’t see how you’ve done it.”
I asked what he meant and he replied, “Your heart has been torn out so many times like this. I couldn’t have done it. I would have probably killed myself if I were in your shoes.”
That’s when it hit me.
No one has it any worse than anyone else.
There are several scriptures that talk about this in various religions, but I’m most studied with the Bible so I will reference that. There is a verse that says, “You will not be tested above that which you are able.”
As we move along this life’s path, we will face challenges. There will be some that seem like they are insurmountable. They will appear to us as mountains standing in our way, keeping us from the reality we wish to have.
The truth is that we are the only ones who have the power to move those mountains. No one else. Whatever struggles you might be experiencing, take honor in the fact that you alone are the one that can handle it. I couldn’t. Your priest, or abbot, or an internet guru, or a great teacher from the past couldn’t. You and you alone are tasked with moving the mountains in your life.
The good news is that you can move those mountains. You can create a reality your heart desires, one that will be filled with love and happiness.
I know because I’ve seen it happen in my life.
There will be tough times ahead. That’s just the way this life goes. One minute, we are sailing along on smooth seas with the wind at our back and the sun on our face. The next minute, a storm has come and the waves seem as though they will sink us.
But the waves won’t sink us. We can make it, because we alone are capable of weathering that storm.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments below. If you want to share a personal struggle or triumph, feel free. The community strengthens itself by encouraging others will real stories. And if you want to read about my story and how I climbed out of the darkness, you can grab a copy of it on Amazon. It’s called Move the Mountain: How Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Love can Change Your World.