Seek to live like the lotus flower, at home in the muddy waters.
Point to Ponder:
What negative occurrences or unfortunate situations inhibit your ability to move forward and thrive?
Don’t be a victim of your challenges. Rather, use them to make you strong and empower your life and the lives of those around you.
I know you’ve seen them- the beautiful flowers that live in ponds and seem to grow out of lily pads. It wasn’t until my wise friend Amy Younkman brought them and their incredible meaning to my attention that I learned the lotus flower is much more than just a pretty flower. The lotus flower is a pristine waterlily that is undiscouraged by its surroundings. It rises from the depths of a murky pond and the petals perfume the air.
Well, last night I did not resemble a pure scented and pleasing lotus flower nor joy, which I am called to possess even during dark and frustrating times. Rather, I was completely ticked by my surroundings and looked wilted.
The events that led to my meltdown began on Friday, which was when I had to put my spunky thirteen-year-old cat Chandler down. He was sick and it was for the best, but it still stunk!! Then, Saturday night several other crappy things began to pile up: I learned that I would not have childcare on Monday; my second loaner computer freaked out on me (my original Mac died two weeks ago and while I wait for Apple to release the new MacBook, I’m on my second loaner because the first one malfunctioned); and Durant, my two-year-old son, couldn’t shake his fever of 101.5 degrees without regular doses of Motrin. Needless to say, I was sad, disgruntled, annoyed, worried and feeling sorry for myself, which was when I ironically walked into my office and saw the lotus quote on my desk. “Seek to live like a lotus flower, at home in the muddy waters.”
As badly as I wanted to have my moment and pout in my muddy water, I knew the quote was right and I needed to be resilient, rise up and thrive, like the lotus flower. And, in the midst of having an inner dialogue, I recognized I just wanted a day without hiccups or inconveniences, a.k.a. murky water (I realize I live an incredibly privileged life and my “so called” problems are laughable, especially when compared to the real problems and sadness that exist in the world). However, because much of what makes life so great are the experiences, growth and wisdom that manifest from the darkened water of difficult times, I’ll take the murk and mud and be thankful for it.
In conclusion, one of the most profound examples of being undiscouraged by your surroundings is Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old Pakistani girl who has been compared to Mother Teresa. As of last week she was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and has also been on the cover of Time Magazine. Just one year ago and while on her way home from school Malala was shot in the head at point blank range by a member of the Taliban. Malala was the only one on the bus with her face uncovered and was targeted for fearlessly championing a woman’s right to education. Malala survived the horrific attack and courageously accepts the muddy waters that literally threaten her life everyday. One of her greatest quotes is, “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one.” Now that’s living like a lotus!
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Is it terrible that I am pretty sure I’ve had to re-realize this lesson at least once a day for a while now?! Needless to say, I have thought about this idea of appreciating the struggles a whole lot lately, and one simple thing a girlfriend told me has helped on many occasions… She told me to ask myself, whenever I am feeling emotional and stressed out or feeling sorry for myself, “Is it true?” I think this is something that Byron Katie does a lot of work with, but my friend Dasha told me about it and most every time I do, it helps me realize that all of my thoughts coming from negative voices are NOT TRUE. I am being convinced (my attitude, perspective, emotions, etc) are all being driven by unrealistic, irrational voices worrying about things from the past or fear of the future. So NO, NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. The more times I experience fearful negative voices and walk myself through the process of realizing how much I’m completely wasting my energy and time, I’m able to relax more and breathe better and know that things are working out exactly as they should. Thanks for the visual reminder of the lotus in the murky water, I love having that beautiful picture in my head to guide me (: