Jay Rifenbary

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Emotional Endurance - Your Key To Carry On

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Reflecting on the past several weeks since the passing of my mother, and the emotional highs and lows associated with this experience, I have widened my perspective on the beauty of love and strength of family. Compassion, empathy, sadness, sympathy, joy, selflessness, and uncertainly are just a few of the feelings that have been associated with this emotional roller coaster ride. Difficulty will always test the strength of your character, and the character of your family. The foundation to emotionally endure, and maintain that character, rests in a commonality of core values that are shared by all involved in that journey to persevere.

The common thread of love displayed by my children to their grandmother in her dying days was inspiring beyond words, and revealed a level of emotional depth in my children that I had not witnessed before. It unified and strengthened the family even further knowing the degree of mutual love shared. What is testing your emotional endurance presently? What fundamental values and character strengths do you possess that will enable you to endure? Endurance is defined as, “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way; the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.” Life can be wearing, tearing, unpleasant and difficult. However, to endure through those challenges can be rewarding, fulfilling, strengthening and inspiring to yourself and those around you. As theologian William Barclay said, “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” What difficult challenges in your life are you turning into glory?

Every life experience adds to a change in perspective in what you might consider your life’s priorities. Without question the value of family, friendship, health, and the giving of one’s self to comfort another has reached another level of priority in my life as a result of this end of life experience. The material things matter less, and the human relationships matter more. What one has matters less, and who one is matters more. A healthy reality is looking at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and taking comfort knowing you have been more selfless than self-centered, and more thoughtful than thoughtless. As author William Faulkner stated, “I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.” I believe we all have the ability to be greater than we are, not just in a social or economic sense, but more importantly in a spiritual, soulful and character sense.

When was the last time you took an accounting of yourself, your life and what you see as your future? What do you see your ultimate happiness being based on? What does being content and at peace mean to you? Questions when answered will make your life journey more enjoyable and meaningful. Although our bodies may die our spirits will forever carry on. I sincerely believe a spirit of love, compassion and virtue will be the most honored, respected and remembered. To live a joyful spirit is to be accepting of your weaknesses, humble with your attributes and thoughtful of others with your decisions. What are the characteristics of your spirit that will endure? It will not be what you have that lives on, but rather who you are and the positive difference you made in the lives of others.

This entire experience also provided further clarity in what it means to genuinely love another. True love is expressed in the absence of things, judgment and self-interest; and in the presence of compassion, empathy and humility. Love is an acceptance and focus on what is good, and not dwelling on what should have been, might have been, or could have been. Whereas resentment contributes to personal anger, love and forgiveness contributes to personal peace. To truly love is to discard the darkness in your own heart, and embrace the light in the heart of others. As the philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”



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