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“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

- Mary Anne Radmacher

Sometimes life deals us a situation so adverse, a loss so great, we feel unable to meet the challenge of facing day after day in our pain and loss. I remember in 2003 when our family lost first my older sister and then a nephew just two months later. It seemed the tears would never end. We felt unable to walk day by day confronted with such intense grief and sorrow.

One day life seems fine and everything is normal and the next thing you know, it throws you a curve ball and you are knocked completely off balance. How do you face each day now? How do you get up tomorrow morning and walk through each hour in agonizing pain and still function? Will you always feel this way? Will the pain ever end or just continue forever? Few of us could bear the thought of living the rest of our lives in such torment. Those facing a divorce, the loss of lifelong dreams, the loss of a loved one, or a debilitating illness have stood and stared at the giant question mark face to face. How do I get through this? Can I get through this?

Opportunity may only knock once, but adversity has a lot more patience. It can knock for years. All the more reason to learn how to handle it when it shows up knocking on our own door.

It is a battle between fear and faith; our fear that we will always feel so miserable or faith that time will ease the pain and our tomorrows will be better than our today.

John F. Kennedy said in a speech in 1959, “When written in Chinese the word "crisis" is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

Crisis, or severe adversity, does bring with it opportunity of one kind or another. Adversities such as divorce bring with them new beginnings, a chance to reinvent one’s self, to embrace a change of scenery, to do things you never considered doing before. A job loss brings the opportunity to explore possible career changes, a change of location, new skills to learn.

Instead of focusing on our misery and our loss, we must rise up and look crisis square in the eye, look for any new opportunities in our situation and move forward. Just one step forward. After that step we contemplate the next step, always keeping our eyes on hope while turning our faces away from our distress.

Hope is the solid knot at the end of the fraying rope you are clinging to that keeps you from sliding off into nowhere. Though we need to learn from yesterday, we still have to keep living today and should always strive to hope for a better tomorrow.

One sure thing about life is things will always change. You will not always feel the way you feel today. It may take days or weeks or even years, but there will come a day when you will awake and notice the sun is shining again, your heart has moved on and a new phase of your life has arrived.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” - Barbara Bloom

Excerpted from Sidewalk Flowers, Vol. 1

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