Recently, I went to an American Association of Pastor Counselors Conference in St. Louis. I had never really participated in any of the conferences offered by my Seminary. Usually, I'm just really busy with school work, kids, and church. I applied for a scholarship and received more money than many of the students. Most of the students didn't understand why, but I would say it was God's divine favor.
As my family drove to St. Louis, I began to pray and ask God to have a word for me. Whatever he wanted me to learn, I wanted God to have it right there. I didn't want to miss it. I wanted God to speak to me. I needed a break from everything at that point in my life, I was totally exhausted. At times, it can be very difficult being a co-pastor and counseling, because individuals are constantly pulling and your pouring out. This trip was self care for me.
So, we get to the hotel and its absolutely beautiful. In a couple hours, I will go to my first class. My first class was taught by Suzanne Mayer. She taught on resilience and our ability to overcome life's hard times. Some people are born with resilience, while others have to learn it. But, we can survive physical illness, hardships, loneliness, and mental illness. She mentioned "power of the positive" which is building individual strengths that help people overcome difficulties, achieve happiness and attain life success. This requires a shift in our thinking. We are often focused on the negative and have a hard time viewing the positive in our life or difficult situation.
She used the story of Maya Angelou as an example of resilience. As many of you know, Maya Angelou was brutally raped as a child. After the rape she became a mute for 5 years. Her mother was on drugs and was a horrible parent to small children. Maya eventually, spoke again through the encouragement of a teacher and family friend. Maya overcame life's obstacles by becoming an world renown author, poet, and received 30 honorary doctoral degrees.
Here are some of the quotes:
What did I learn?
I had the opportunity to reflect upon my own life and I now realize how resilient I truly am. I have overcame so many life hardships. I learned to appreciate those hardships because they have made me who I am today. Life isn't easy, but it can be easier if you allow it. Sometimes, you have to reflect on the blessings that God has given, that we often take for granted (trees, grass, flowers, and air). We have to look at our hardships and see what we can learn from them. Look at the difficult situations and see God in them. What is God trying to teach you? What success is God setting you up for? How does this play into the vision that God has shown me? Does this situation set me up for future success? My answer after this trip to the last question, was a simple: Yes!