We are given gifts in our life, though often we do not see them as gifts, nor are they always what we asked for. We are given life. We often forget it is a gift, and so often we focus way too much on how we can make ourselves most comfortable rather than how we can get the most out of our lives.

Many times we overlook the gifts bestowed on us that come from merely experiencing each and every day. From birth to death we are here to grow, to grow in spirit to grow in love to learn. Our actions, both proactive and reactive to our experiences, mark our growth and shape our character.

Emotions can act as a barometer in our progress. In America, societal pressures often opine that a man is weak if he shows emotion. I think otherwise. It is not tears that mark weakness. Emotions are complex and their physical manifestation can be similar for a myriad of situations.

For myself, I have come to realize that in order to grow or to learn, or just to manage to get through life I must truly feel emotion. I never want to suffer but suffering is inevitable. In suffering I don’t want to feel pain, I want to keep it set aside, but I know myself and at some point I have to allow myself to feel the pain brought on by suffering. I need to feel it to reconcile the suffering, and to let it go. If the suffering is by my own hand I must allow myself to feel it to give me the best chance of righting a wrong I have committed; to dispense with unhealthy rationalization; and to gird my resolve to set right an action that goes against the values of my soul. If my suffering is by the hand of someone else and I have been wronged, I must at some point allow myself to feel the emotion and in this regard the longer I stave it off the worse it can be. The longer I stew in being wronged the harder it is to let it go. The greatest cure to being wronged is to allow yourself to forgive. I must get past the pain to allow myself to forgive. If the suffering comes from life itself, by no one’s hand, then the only chance I have of learning or attempting to come close to an understanding is to let myself work through it. Above all offer suffering up to God. Offering it up does not mean it will hurt less, but it does mean you do not have to go through it alone. When wronged, offering it up for the soul of the person who committed the wrong is a huge step towards living as Jesus teaches. When this can be done you have given yourself a gift. Admittedly, I have quite a ways to go in this regard.

In joy, allow yourself to feel the full extent of good. When giving another good allow yourself to share in the feeling that comes from making another person’s life better no matter how big or small. Caution however, against allowing your action of good from being more self-serving than serving to others. In all cases, remember to offer the joy up to God. I too often say to Him “Why are you doing this to me?” and too seldom “Thank you for what you have given me”. I am seldom in control in this life, and when I am it is never to the degree to which I think I am.

If any of the above leaves me with a tear on my cheek, so be it. It is part of me. A final thought…What other people think of me is not relevant, except in regard to what good they feel when I in some way touch their lives.

Pat Rosmarin, Lecturer