There must be some significance to 4AM because yesterday, though everyone else in the house was sound asleep, you guessed it, I was wide awake — AGAIN. I kind of dig it, sitting in a quiet room that often stays as the hub of excitement for at least fourteen hours a day. No toddler streaking by me at lightning speed or husband making all kinds of noise. No loud cars driving by, just… Silence.

I was a little anxious about getting some scans completed that would hopefully stop the mystery of why I have been so sick for so long. And alas they did, though the battle is not over yet. The odd thing about it is, I’m not afraid of the outcome. I’ve weighed out everything I could be facing ahead and am ready to face it, whatever it is. If it’s the worst case scenario or the best case, either way I am accepting and ready.

In the past, this would have been an odd mindset to be in because for most of my life I have been afraid of the worst. Afraid of how much of a toll whatever trial I am nearly facing, could have on my own life. Afraid of if I can withstand it. Afraid of if I will come out better or worse from it. For quite some time now, that fear of the unknown hasn’t been an active part of my thoughts anymore. Thankfully.

Have you ever experienced a test in your life that brought you to the conclusion that you were sick and tired of being sick and tired?? When the trial first hits, you’re overwhelmed by its magnitude and you think the worst? You beg God, the Universe, whatever you believe in, for some clarity, but that doesn’t come? You concede to the fact that you’re just going to have to go through this unfamiliar, uncomfortable dilemma until it’s time for you to get some relief? Weeks, months, maybe even years go by with no reprieve to your trial and you’ve finally had enough. You don’t care what it is that you’re supposed to learn from it or how awful it may be, you just want to get to that lesson, learn from it and move on with your life? The trial holds a special message within it that only you can decode.

When I was a kid I hardly ever got in trouble. I had older siblings and watching their mistakes and punishments gave me enough discernment not to do what they did to get into the trouble that they got into! I do remember one time getting grounded for something like two weeks though. That might as well have been a lifetime to my then, teenage mind. Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to see, no phone calls to be made. I don’t envy my parents having to be locked in with their completely miserable teenager for so long. In that time of incarceration I discovered that I never wanted to do anything again that got me imprisoned in my home, like that. In all honesty I think that grounding only lasted a week because I was so repentant of what I had done to get myself grounded that my parents pardoned my sentence. It might have been hard for my parents to punish me and it wasn’t fun for me being punished, but there was a lesson to be learned for me in that time of solitude. One that if I got it, would keep me from doing the same thing ever again. In that time I thought my parents were just jerks trying to destroy my life, but towards the end I knew where I had gone wrong and just wanted to make it right and be released from my jail cell.

Have you ever experienced a trial that has imprisoned you in some way? Chained you to your condition of circumstance? Maybe one that has made you want to shake your fist at the heavens for having allowed it be? Did you feel as if it was just never going to end or couldn’t possibly have any lesson in it for you?

Every circumstance in my life has taught me something valuable. I’m not going to lie, it may have taken me a while to get to the point of learning because my human nature of resisting everything that is outside of my comfort zone, took over before I could think otherwise — But eventually, I have always learned something valuable.

I’ve talked about this before, but it bares repeating — I was a very angry person, for most of my life. Not the kind of angry person that goes randomly attacking people, but the kind of anger that drives your every thought, every word and every action. The kind of anger that people can’t clearly see until the bomb explodes. The bigger problem in this for me, was that I didn’t realize how angry I was — Until I wasn’t angry anymore.

I validated my anger by the thing that made me angry not realizing that the choice to take up the cross of anger, was mine. I sought approval for it through getting others opinions on my situations and how they would feel, if they were me. If they said, “Man, I would be pissed off,” then I felt like my reasoning for my anger was legitimate. Even justified. The problem with this reasoning is that those who you seek validation of your negative emotions from, aren’t having to walk through your trial with you. They may be there to listen, but the ultimate burden of carrying those negative feelings — Is that you carry them alone. And who do you go to when you need validation, but to someone who is often just like you? Struggling with the same monster that you are. Someone who will tell you what you want to hear. The same is true for just about any kind of negativity. If it’s attention that you seek, then you go to your friend that is always seeking attention. If it’s gossip, you go to the friend who always seems to know something dirty about EVERYBODY. When you’re seeking validation and you aren’t emotionally or mentally mature enough to seek WISDOM instead, you wind up at the feet of the very person who is the embodiment of your same struggle. Your mirror reflection.

My struggle was anger and out of nowhere but certainly not coincidentally, I acquired friendships/relationships with people who were like-minded. Not because I sought them out, but because what I was sending out through my personality was attracting more of the same. The things I hadn’t realized about myself, were there either way and I CALLED like-minded people, TO ME! The bad thing about seeking validation instead of wisdom is, slowly those negative emotions that you for some reason need approval in order to have, become attached to your psyche. Embedded in the ways that you handle almost if not, EVERY part of your life. It resides in your heart. Pretty soon that justified anger spun into me being overly judgmental. And the lesson within that original source of my anger, became clouded and hard to decipher. You look up years later and see all of the times where you reacted in a way that cut you off from your lesson within that trial and consequently, from your blessing.

Trials will always be a part of our existence because they are the tool that helps us to grow and mature. It’s easy to be happy and feel blessed in your life when everything is moving in your favor, but what about when your world is falling down around your ears? What about those trials that seem so far beyond your own scope of understanding? The kind of ones that have you crying out to something greater than yourself to come and take it away? Those are the trials with the most valuable lessons, but they’re hidden so far down under the discomfort that we have to dig, knuckles in the dirt, just to find it. Those are the trials that teach us the very most about ourselves and our circumstances. Maybe it’s something we need to be doing that we aren’t doing already. Maybe it’s something that we need to stop doing or even learn a better approach to. Maybe it’s learning to be patient in situations that patience feels so incredibly far out of reach.

I felt comfortable around miserable people. People who always had some complaint to start their conversations off with. The ones who carried on forever about how sad, depressed or lonely they were and how everyone in their lives was against them. Because to me at the time, they were relatable. They were real and honest. But that idea was all crap. The truth is, that they were just as dysfunctional as I was! Because I didn’t really want to see what I needed to change about myself, I went to the ones most like me to tell me that I was right! Who encouraged me in my weaknesses instead of shining a light on them for me to clearly see. The ironic thing about going to someone lacking in wisdom for their opinion, is they always have some “valid” reason for being angry. Even worse they are relentlessly encouraging to you in your own anger! You wind up leaving the conversation about your hardship, feeling justified. No matter how wrong you really are. Being in their company made me feel like I wasn’t wrong. Let’s face it, none of us like to be wrong, but we all are at some point. And being wrong lends us the opportunity to grow through our trial.

Some trials you have to go through on your own. It’s nice to have someone to comfort us, but sometimes that comfort turns into coddling. We can be coddled too much. To the point where we miss the lesson that was meant for us to learn. When you aren’t fighting your own battles or facing your own trials yourself, then you have been coddled too much. The trials in our lives are purposefully there to shake us up. To push us out of our comfort zone and into the realm of change. For that to happen, we have to be willing to experience the uncomfortable, by ourselves.

It’s one thing to have a friend who is like-minded and equally as crazy as you, but to have a friend who will call you out on your mess and show you where you’re screwing things up — is a whole other can of worms. Because it conflicts with our ego that tells us that everything we do is golden and right. Ego itself can stop us dead in our tracks from getting through a test in our lives and growing from it.

For me, it wasn’t until I started trying to change my life and all that it involved, that I started noticing whom – by just being in their presence – wore me down. With whom it was that I walked away feeling negative about life, anxious and upset at everything. Or just walked away from each interaction feeling mentally and emotionally drained. I noticed where the disruption to my own progress was. When I finally got sick of myself and my circumstances enough that I began wanting to change, I found these people to be the most obtrusive to that change. For one, anytime that you want to change for the better — You wind up upsetting some folks! If you were the one who participated in the anger-stirring conversations, or the one who they gossiped with, or did anything else that fed into the lie that you (or they) were never wrong, and all of the sudden you want to be happy and positive — You immediately become unequally yoked. If you stick around, what was once a solid friendship eventually falls apart because you can see the error of your ways and they cannot. Pretty soon where other people were the topic of your discussions in the past, you are now the topic of theirs. And then enters another dreadful trial of your life to face.

Anyone who truly loves you will want to be a part of your progress, in some way. They will want to hear about your woes and offer wisdom, guidance and support. They will want to be a part of your happiness and to ENCOURAGE you, instead of DISCOURAGE you. They will want to build you up, instead of beat you down. They will see your positive improvement and want to change within themselves to experience the same goodness that you are getting to experience from it.

I started realizing that these people in times of my trials served as mirror reflections of who I was at that time. If I was angry, they were angry. If they were bitter, I was bitter. If they were judgmental, I was judgmental. And the list goes on. What I was seeing in them that started to make me cautious, is exactly what was inside of me! And it was the same thing that blocked me from learning through my trials! That nervous anxiety that I would feel around them is the same anxiety that others felt while being around me! We were one in the same. And we flocked together. They became the negative side of my subconscious. If I wasn’t angry about a problem that I was facing, it never took very long of them talking to make me realize that maybe I should be angry! I’d light that torch and storm away ready to fight, where cooler heads could have prevailed — Because I felt validated in my anger. I took my under-reacting to overreacting, when I could have triumphed over that circumstance by just staying calm, peaceful and searching for the lesson. In the process of my overreaction, I completely missed the lesson and the blessing, each and every time. The entire purpose for that trial, I missed completely.

To me, I see blessings as something that positively impacts your life. I don’t mean a showering of gifts or monetary gain, but the gift of taking a situation meant for your bad which you have in turn found the miracle within it. For example — Learning to be kinder, when ugliness is what you gave. Gaining wisdom that you can apply the next time – When this time, you chose to be irrational. Seeing something about yourself through this test, that pushed you to change. Those things, to me, are blessings disguised as trials. We have to have trials in order to see what we are made of. The fire has to be lit to us, heating us to near meltdown in order for us to see our reactions to stress, our go-to emotions, the things about ourselves that aren’t making us better but instead holding us back. You can’t see those things about yourself any other way than when you are TESTED.

Now when I face an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, I immediately think on what it is that I am meant to learn from it. What’s the lesson that I can take away. Having the ability to look at your mistakes within a circumstance and say, I don’t want to do that again and then actually not doing it again, is a blessing! You grew in what you learned from the previous test! When we don’t resolve our past, whether it be the mistakes that we made or what have you, we will continually be brought to that same trial over and over again, until we learn. Sure the circumstances around it may be different, the people may be different, but the testing of your response to anger, impatience, selfishness, etc. is all the same test. It’s one less trial that you have to endure on the road ahead because you got the lesson this time!

We have two choices, each time that we are faced with something trying us. Either let it build you or let it break you. If you walk away having learned nothing and still complaining, then it has broken you. Luckily, there is no expiration on when you can finally learn from it. But if you can walk away having learned something important about yourself and then apply that learned lesson the next time a trial comes along, then you have let that circumstance, build you. Your lesson has then become your most valuable blessing.

I see this sickness for me, as a test. I see that I have entertained negativity in my own mind for so long that I in-turn made myself sick. I brought illness to my body by allowing illness of mind to be part of my daily life. Anger makes you sick and I was angry for too long to not suffer a consequence. This I have learned and I take my consequence fully owning the responsibility. I chose an unhealthy past, for years. Just because over the passed couple I have woken up to that fact and made the steps to change, does not mean that there will be no consequence for my prior choice.

If I could encourage you from a place of humility and honesty — Face your trials on your own and search for the lesson within them. Let them bless you instead of break you!