This Too Shall Pass

Strange weather has taught me a valuable lesson.  One I seem to need to learn over and over – a lot.  The week of New Year’s it was cold.  VERY cold.  Maybe even record cold for that time of year.  We had the snowstorm (aka bomb cyclone) on January 4th, all while experiencing a deep freeze.  Southern New England got anywhere from 6-16 inches of snow, and it drifted all over the place.  It seemed like it would be cold forever.

(c) Kathleen Thompson

(c) Kathleen Thompson

Then suddenly it was warm.

Unnaturally warm, in fact.  A few normal days and then boom!  59 degrees and torrential rain.  All the snow melted except for tiny mounds where large piles had been.

(c) Kathleen Thompson The snow is almost gone.

(c) Kathleen Thompson The snow is almost gone.

And I thought to myself, “This too shall pass.”  I couldn’t imagine that the snow could disappear so quickly.  That I’d be going out without gloves. Without my long underwear underneath my clothes.  Without my winter hat.  And yet I was.  Wearing only a warm raincoat, dodging raindrops instead of blinding snow.

As I made my way through the rain, I thought, “It’s winter.  There’s no way this is going to last.”  And it didn’t.  A few days later, and we’re back to the cold.  Single digits at night.  All that water is frozen solid already after only one day.  The warmth too did pass.

It’s funny, isn’t it?  When we’re in the middle of something it feels like it’s been forever.  We have a vague memory that it wasn’t, but we can’t feel that any more.  All we can feel is now.  It feels like it’s been forever and that it will be forever.

It’s important at a time like that to remember, “This too shall pass.”  It sounds cliché, but there’s so much truth to that.  (Oh by the way, don’t be the one who says that to your friend when they just shared bad news with you.  It won’t go over well.  It’s best if we say it to ourselves.)  Pretty much everything will end at some point.

The question is – how will we respond to the situation?  Will we believe it will pass and live in that place of trust?  Or will we resist it every step of the way, which actually does harm only to ourselves?  Will we find the beauty in the day in the midst of the turmoil, or will we curse the day and see only the problem?

The choice is yours.  And mine.

While it’s cold, I’m wearing long underwear.  Gloves.  The warmest coat I have.  Why?  So I can go out and still enjoy my life.  I’m not skipping down the road while breathing icicles.  But there are a lot of things I can do whether it’s cold or not.  And guess what?  By doing that I’ll notice the problem less – see it in the perspective of the whole.

I’m choosing to do that with the rest of my life too.  Tomorrow I’m having surgery on my gums.  I’m a little nervous about it.  Was avoiding even thinking about it, which simply meant my subconscious mind was worrying instead.  And then I decided to put on my gloves, so to speak.  I looked with my friend Ruth at websites to help me figure out food.  I have some enjoyable books to read.  I’ve chosen to pay attention to it enough to take care of myself and listen to what my body needs.  Yet not focus on it to the point where I can’t see or hear anyone or anything else.  I’ve chosen to put it in perspective.

This too shall pass.  Whatever it is.  What do you want to do in the meantime?  The choice is yours.

Have you had an experience that seemed as though it would go on forever?  And then it didn’t?  How did you feel?  Did you do anything about it, or ride it out?  Share in the comments.

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Hi Kathleen. I’m a psychotherapist now, so I have formal training, but the way I knew my training would actually help people is when I recognized how certain principles helped me when I was a twenty-something very seriously emotionally ill young woman. I still remember the day I read about the terms “radical acceptance,” a term that means just about exactly what you wrote about. It also meant that I could teach women who were experiencing really hard to handle emotions how they could get up in the morning, radically accept that their suffering may not end “today,” and then go find some beauty to help them live through it. This philosophy is helpful for all of us, all the time. Great post. Thanks for writing it!

    • Radical acceptance….those words have power, Linda. It seems to mean acceptance, while still expecting the situation will change at some point. That’s where I had to come to when I was so sick. I had to be willing to praise God even if he didn’t heal me. Boy was that hard!
      Tony Robbins says that pain is universal, but suffering is optional. To him suffering comes from the story we tell ourselves about the pain. The story that magnifies and extends it. There’s always some beauty, isn’t there? And sometimes we have to work really hard to find it. But it’s there.
      Praying for your continued recovery.

      • Thank you my sweet friend. I always know somehow that you are going to understand what I am talking about (no small feat!).

  • Great perspective Kathleen! Yes so often it feels when we are in some major challenge (major to us at least!) that life will never be the same again. I have to keep reminding myself that God’s grace is new every morning and because of what Christ has done there is always the option to live with joy and in freedom. The key is I think to be rooted and grounded in God. My Enneagram is perfectionist which means I have spent decades basing my internal happiness on my external world being perfect – an impossible to please expectation! I need to keep reminding myself ‘This too shall pass’. Trust the gum surgery went well.

    • The funny thing with perfectionism, is that so often if asked we can’t even describe what perfect would be like. And yet we know it would be “not this”. As you said, it’s impossible to meet expectations in that case.
      This too shall pass. And in some cases it’s actually good. Or great. Just not perfect.
      Gum surgery went well. Still a lot of healing to go, but good progress. This too shall pass.