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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Faith and Values: Hardships give us opportunities to grow and become more resilient

Rebecca Cooney  (Courtesy)
By Rebecca Cooney FāVS News

Life is rarely predictable. It is a journey fraught with threads of joy, sorrow, triumph and defeat. And while we often crave stability and certainty, the truth is that unexpected changes and disappointments are inescapable. They can leave us feeling blindsided, disoriented and emotionally adrift. We may find ourselves reeling from the injustice, hurt and profound sense of loss. Yet, within these hardships, lies the potential for growth and resilience.

My own journey has been marked by a series of unexpected turns. When I was senior in high school, a counselor, after making assumptions based solely on my appearance and status as a cheerleader, discouraged me from pursuing higher education.

My daughter was born with a rare condition that resulted in a cascade of medical challenges and long-term adjustments. Divorce after a 15-year marriage shattered my sense of stability and security with the loss of friends, family and the support network I built over many years. And now we are facing the recent loss of a promised financial commitment that creates a significant hurdle for our family as our sons complete their final years of education.

Each of these events ignited a familiar emotional roller coaster: anger, sadness and despair. Yet, I have found that the key to navigating these turbulent waters lies in a simple three-step process: get mad, be sad and get busy.

The first step is acceptance – acknowledging and validating the pain. We cannot force ourselves to move on before we have truly felt the impact of the change. Resisting our emotions only prolongs the struggle. Allowing myself to experience a range of ups and downs gives space for healing and processing.

This might include talk therapy, where I can delve into the root of my feelings and learn coping mechanisms. Or perhaps it is journaling, where I pour my thoughts and musings onto the page, allowing them to flow freely. I may find solace in prayer as a means of comfort or engage in physical activity, where I let go of pent-up energy and find a sense of release. Or it could be any other self-care ritual that helps me find a place of relative peace.

Once I have acknowledged and allowed the emotions, I move into a problem-solving mode. I do my best not to linger in a state of helplessness. Instead, I tap into my own inner strength and resourcefulness, shifting my focus to action and solutions. It is about re-evaluating goals, making plans and adjusting my mindset to embrace a growth perspective.

This might involve seeking mentors whose wisdom can guide me through the obstacles as I navigate a more unpredictable pathway. Engaging in new activities – whether it is a creative pursuit, a volunteer role or simply exploring a new hobby – can spark a renewed sense of purpose and reignite my passion. Or perhaps, it is simply redirecting my attitude to embrace a more positive and optimistic outlook. The key is to channel that initial energy of anger and sadness into a place of productive action.

This process of getting mad, getting sad and getting busy is not just for major life events. It can be applied to any situation that throws us off balance. Whether it is a missed promotion, lost opportunity or even a frustrating shopping trip, these steps provide a framework for navigating the often unavoidable bumps in the road.

Life’s unexpected twists and turns are inevitable. Instead of resisting the emotional journey, we can embrace the process of getting mad, getting sad and getting busy. It is a path towards healing, perseverance and, ultimately, a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

Rebecca Cooney is an experienced educator, trainer, specialist in online education and writing enthusiast from Pullman, Washington. She was raised in a Christian home but describes her current relationship with religion as “complicated and layered.”