About once a year, we get a significant wind storm that blows through our area. It’s the kind of wind that sends you rushing outside to brave the initial wave of flying yard debris. With harsh gusts at your face, you collect strewn toys around the lawn, lay the basketball standard down, and bring the deck chairs inside.
During these windstorms, our family of four hunkers down safely inside. I open all the curtains in the house and encourage my children to turn off their electronics. This way, they can bear witness to the terribly beautiful capacities of Earth and her moods.
Last year, as in most years, the storm struck late in the evening. The sky was dimming, though this night was darker than usual. Suddenly, the clouds ripped open and rain poured down torrentially. It was unstoppable. For nearly an hour, the downpour stayed so heavy you could barely hear each other talking over the sound of the clapping droplets on the roof.
When the cloudburst let up, the wind moved in. It whistled around the house's body, testing the frame's endurance. Our home creaked under the trial but remained steadfast. However, the current of air snapped tree branches, sending them tumbling into distant lands. My children and I watched from the upstairs window in awe.
Suddenly, my husband called to me from the bottom of the stairs, “You might want to see this!” I rushed down the flight. There, at eye level, we saw it. Our beloved plum tree, the one that was as much an appendage of this house as we were, was engaged in a battle of endurance.
The ground was softened from the rain, and the wind was intense. We could see the earth above its roots pulse with each eastward gust. The ground to its west rose, then fell every few seconds. We were witnessing our majestic tree battle for its life. I couldn’t watch and slumped back up the stairs to wait out the result of the dire conflict.
In time, the storm let up. Smaller winds sporadically hissed across the house, but the worst of it was over. I peered out the back window at the now blackened sky. Our beautiful tree was still standing. It had survived the struggle to maintain its ground.
When the kids went to bed, my husband came to me with something he had learned that night. “Did you know, that if a tree survives a wind storm its roots will often grow deeper or its bark will become thicker?”
I did not know that. But was immediately struck by this real-life parable.
Often, we are the tree. The wind tests our endurance, our strength. Are we steadfast? Can we wait out or battle this storm?
When we do, we are stronger for it. Better equipped from our last run-in. Our roots are deeper and our bark is like armor, ready for whatever might come next. Had we never encountered that storm, we would not know our capacity for resilience, power, and potency. But here we are, much the wiser. We have seen the trouble. We know its scent and we are prepared for it.
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
― Helen Keller
Meditate on How Your Trials Have Made You Stronger
If you are in the process of questioning whether your trials have made you stronger, ask yourself these questions. Meditate on your answers and perhaps write them down in a journal.
In what ways am I wiser for the trial I have endured?
Does it better enable me to help others or be empathetic towards them?
In what ways am I stronger today than I was before this happened to me?
I am confident that you will find purpose in your hardship and the ways in which it has made you a better and more steadfast person.
Over the course of my life, I have found that our trials serve us if we allow them to. A simple reframe of what my hardships have provided me has made the entire difference in how I go about my life. Do I choose to be a victim? Or has my experience given me more compassion, better fortitude, and a desire to thrive?
You are powerful, my friend, incase you are unsure. Reflect on your abilities and focus on the places you are strong. We all have work to do and spaces to grow. The best way to do that is to concentrate on where you are getting it right and build up from there.
Affirmations for Overcoming Trials
You can also create an affirmation in relationship to your trials and the power you have gained from them or the reframe that you would like to make true. Pick one phrase below, combine several, or create one of your own. Paste it on your bathroom mirror or write it out in dry erase marker. Here are some ideas.
I am powerful.
Only I have control over my life.
My trials have made me wiser and stronger.
My life brings me joy.
I use my experience as a tool for growth.
I choose how I see my life.
My experiences help other people.
I am filled with purpose.
If you feel a bit goofy about reciting affirmations to yourself daily, take heart in knowing that they are extensively researched and really do work. This is because they create change in our brains through three major functions.
Affirmations boost our ability to turn inward for guidance and direction.
They broaden the perspective with which we view information and the events in our lives.
They reduce a threat’s ability to affect our state of being.
Thus, affirmations create positive, long-lasting effects by changing the nature of what we experience, both in the now and future circumstances.
We all have some type of trauma or trial under our belt. Reflecting on how it has shaped your life and how you want it to continue to shape your life will impact your foundation. We will never forget our hardship, so it is up to us to allow it to serve us. To make us stronger and better than we were yesterday.