When we got up around 6:00 Sunday morning the snow had just started coming down. There was just a light dusting on the ground, and the fine snowflakes coming down were barely visible, except under the streetlights.
That would change quickly. The flakes increased in size and that light dusting turned into a deep blanket of white that would continue to build for the next 18 hours or so. We ended up with 11.7 inches of snow.
I’m from the south, and I’m just not used to that kind of snow! Even when I lived in Germany I don’t remember having a single snow that deep, so it was an adventure (and I wasn’t sure it was going to be a good one) for me.
The snow was beautiful, but not only that – it had some lessons in it.
Here are just a few of them:
There are still good, kind people in the world.
As the snow piled up outside I started to worry about how we were going to get the sidewalk and driveway cleared. As I mentioned in Adjusting Expectations, my husband has experienced a relapse with his pericarditis and didn’t need to be out shoveling.
I was just hoping that the young people who were going around trying to make some extra money last year would show up again this year with their shovels. I happened to look out the window about 6:00 that evening and our neighbor was clearing one side of the driveway from the garage down to the street. He had already cleared our porch and sidewalk without our even knowing he was there.
If you watch the news with any regularity and listen to all the angry voices on television, social media, and even sometimes here in the blogosphere, it’s easy to believe that there are no kind, decent people in the world anymore. It’s also easy to become disillusioned with people when we fight so hard to be believed when we say we’re suffering (especially when our illness is invisible.) The actions of people like our wonderful neighbor, however show us that there are still many good, kind individuals all around us.
We can find good in every situation if only we look.
While I was wrestling with concerns about how we were going to get the snow cleared from our sidewalk and driveway, the kids across the street were having a wonderful time playing in the snow and sledding down their driveway. Although the snow was creating some potential problems it was also making new opportunities possible. The same can be said of our illnesses. Yes, chronic illness is a challenge, a big one, but as we live with and learn from it, we’re often presented with new opportunities. Many who learn to thrive in spite of their illnesses go on to help others dealing with the same thing.
When it’s coming down fast and furious, sometimes it’s best to just hunker down and wait it out.
When challenges are coming at us one after another – pain, fatigue, stress – it can feel overwhelming and it may seem as if we’re just going to be buried under it all forever. But just as the snow melts, our flares settle down, our fatigue may lighten up a little, and those stressors that seemed to be taking over are no longer an issue. It’s not pleasant while we’re in it, but if we can just wait a little while, things will most likely change.
We can’t allow ourselves to be hardened by the pressures of living with a chronic illness.
When the snow was coming down, it was a dry, soft snow that was fairly easy to sweep or shovel away, but as it piled up, the snow on the bottom started to compact from the pressure of the snow on top of it and soon became a layer of ice on all hard surfaces.
This hard snow/ice can be extremely destructive, just as allowing ourselves to become hardened can be destructive to us. The day to day pressure of living with a chronic illness can cause us to become so internally focused that if we’re not careful, we can become less empathetic and understanding. Worse than that, we can become one of those angry people we see on the news. That anger can turn into a hard, impenetrable wall that keeps others out and keeps us trapped within a prison of our own making.
I’m happy to report that we survived our historic (the most snow ever recorded in December in our city) storm with no issues. We even kept our electricity throughout, which is a miracle around here!
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from a less-than-desirable situation? Please share!