Getting caught in a spider’s web is often how troubles feel.

We all have them. Troubles come in all sizes, shapes, and intensities. Sometimes we get caught in the blast radius of another person’s troubles. Sometimes we are standing at ground zero. After decades of roaming this Earth and dealing with my share of troubles it has finally occurred to me that we need them.

Yep. I’m serious. Think of troubles as challenges. As opportunities for personal growth. When a problem arises do we run to another to solve it for us the way we did as young children when a playmate took our toy and we wanted it back? Or do we find a way to solve or deal with the problem ourselves?

As we grow and age our troubles grow in complexity and scope. Not all troubles can be solved, many can only be accepted and dealt with in the best way we know how.

Someone close to me has recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of dementia. He’s my age, so, up there, but not yet considered old (except by the thirty and under crowd). Dealing with this massive problem falls on his wife who already has a great deal of stress in her life from her work. She’ll deal with it because she has no choice. She loves him and walking away is not an option.

She’s already begun to deal with the problem by educating herself about the disease, by talking with others about available support systems that they can take advantage of, and about the steps she needs to take to protect their assets from a confused mind. So many things to consider that it could easily overwhelm her–best dealt with one at a time. Like eating an elephant. If you look at the whole animal you know you’ll never be able to eat it. So you take it one small bite at a time. (Not a great analogy as I’m mostly vegetarian but it’s the one that popped into my brain.)

The point is that she’ll deal and get through this and come out the other side a stronger, better, and for a while maybe–a sadder person. By better I mean that because she’s been thrown into a new and unknown reality she’ll grow as an individual. She’ll gain in her abilities and strength as she deals with each issue that arises.

This is an extreme example, but I’ve learned that the more severe the problem the greater the opportunity for personal growth. I realize that to some I sound callous–believe me I’m not. I faced difficult and soul-debilitating problems as a child that took me decades to overcome. I know about pain and suffering and helplessness. (That’s probably why I don’t write about it. I want the happy ending.)

We muddle our way through life’s problems, learning about people and situations as we search for answers, as we search for a positive outcome, and while doing so we absorb all that knowledge that becomes part of who we are. It’s called living. There’s no escape.

We can also become better people by helping a troubled someone when and where we can, by offering whatever type of support we are capable of. We can lend a sympathetic ear when a troubled person is overwhelmed and needs to vent on someone they know won’t judge them. We can offer reassurances that a person is doing all they can to the best of their abilities. We can offer gentle suggestions if we see helpful paths they might have missed. We can shore up their faith in their strength and ability to deal. We can be their rock when needed.

(We can also help by refusing to let them wallow in a “poor me” frame of mind. Everyone has crosses to bear, everyone has trouble come into their lives. Wallowing in “why me” is not productive. I’ve known people who seek out trouble for the attention it brings them. I am not talking about those people today. They need to be handled in an entirely different manner.)

“This too shall pass” is a fundamental axiom of life. Be someone’s rock. Be your own rock. Face your troubles head on and find your inner strengths.

Photo of a black and yellow argiope spider copyright Gunsmith Photo.