Hitting Hard Times Could Be the Beginning of the Best Times of Your Life

Caroline de Braganza

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(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”–Thich Nhat Hanh.

Holding on hope when you hit hard times is when you discover your loyal friends–yourself and other angels who stand by you no matter what.

Global poverty

We define poverty as a lack of access to basic human needs of food, clothing and shelter.

Refugees tossing in a sinking boat on the Mediterranean on their quest for a better life may be poor with no food, no money, no job. They are fleeing oppression or wars - but they are not poor in spirit.

What of the refugees freezing and starving at informal camps in northern Syria? They don’t throw in the towel and give up - they hold hope for a better future. (What terrifies me is that, for lack of fuel, one camp scavenges the nearby rubbish heaps for plastic to burn to keep them warm - a toxic solution.)

Moving to the protesters in Zimbabwe, though beaten and bullied, they don’t give up on their quest for a better life - a life where they can afford to buy a loaf of bread; find bread on the supermarket shelves. Much the same in Venezuela and other countries.

But let’s narrow poverty down to our neck of the woods.

Our Western perspective

As consumerism became endemic in the post-war 20th century, our aspirations were to have and to hold possessions, on the mistaken premise that by having more, we could be more.

We deluded ourselves that equality equated to status. (We allowed it to happen.)

Money, cars, houses, the latest gadgets and appliances - we believed having more made us a better person - we could climb to a higher social class and wouldn’t our lives thrive. We will dig a deep hole of debt and wallow in the mud; to sacrifice heart and soul for material wealth.

Who would you be if you started tomorrow with no things? Nothing. Would you be a better person or would you crumple in a heap? Would others look down on you; despise you for your failures, for being homeless, for being jobless, for being poor?

In our society, that’s the knee-jerk reaction. We don’t see beyond the first impression.

In South Africa, the concept of a poor White is alien and uncomfortable to my fellow Caucasians. Coupled with this is the inherent belief I should have done better. (This is a hangover from the days of apartheid 25 years ago.) I’m an embarrassment to my race. And to my family.

Difficult as it may be to escape the herd mentality, three years ago, being jobless and almost homeless, I felt ashamed that we had to sell the car, and other possessions and move to a rural area where an old acquaintance offered the free use of a small cottage on his property (from which I am writing this). My self-esteem had collapsed in a heap of shame.

“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.” - Brene Brown

What are we here for?

To awaken to the deepest longings of our souls. To experience the Divine in all we do, in all we say and, when the chips are down, to believe this is our path - not as a victim, but as a child of God- and that there is a purpose.

We’re here to be the best version of ourselves.

Hard times have been my best times

Reviewing my journey, the pivotal moments in my life have been the hard knocks that opened the door to my soul. Lessons learned. A realm where how much I own has no value. A realm where who I am has value.

  • I’m blessed that I cn provide for my physical needs of food, clothing and shelter.
  • I’m not ashamed to be poor.
  • Within my heart dwells a deep love and appreciation for what is.
  • I’m doing the best I can with what I have.
  • I’m writing. 😊

Being presented with challenges calls for deep introspection. The secret is to understand you have value, far beyond what money can buy. If you believe you are enough, if you believe you matter, if you believe you are significant, your worries will disappear.

A shift in perception.

Neale Donald Walsch has this to say about facing challenges:

“Life is on your side, you live in a friendly universe and all will work out in the end.”

I’m enjoying the process but confess to having to rein in the horse of impatience on the odd occasion when it wants to gallop ahead.

(What can I say? I’m human.)

There’s a timeless Friend waiting in the wings for you to perform to your full potential. If you forget your lines, be still and listen for the prompt, then stride onto that stage to give the best performance of your life- every day.

And value your friends on this mortal earth.

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.

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