A North Korean defector was able to escape a life of hell when she was 13 years-old. Yeomni Park shared the grisly account of seeing her own mother raped to protect her and witnessed her friend's mother being executed for watching an American film. "There is a saying in North Korea: ‘Women are weak, but mothers are strong’. My mother allowed herself to be raped in order to protect me.” Her family secretly left the country and walked the Gobi Desert with a compass and when that broke, they followed as she said "the stars to freedom" to Mongolia and then to China. They were prepared to die if they had to go back to the totalitarian state. Her story is an extreme case of overcoming great adversity. Our story may not be as heartbreaking, but we all share something in common because life can be cruel. This is when we need to dig deep, take a deep breath and move forward, even when the compass is broke. Do you have what it takes to overcome? We will share suggestions on how you can make it over the mountains in your life.
Find the courage to move forward.Park and her family made the decision to escape ruthless and a cowardice dictator. Making this arrangement took guts. We can make the decision to not allow external circumstances to crush us. As we tap into our inner strength we can rise above the arduous challenges that tend to work to scuttle assurance. There will be tests through people and through our problems. This is where we need to make the choice to alter our perspective when interruptions happen by taking a stand. King David told his son, Solomon: “Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished." Whether in Biblical times or for today, this advice is something we need for today.
Make a miracle in the dark.Make a list of all your strengths and keep it handy when you are feeling dispirited. Take note of all those who struggled like Park, who used her pain to help others as a human rights activist. Use what is negative to empower you to chip away at the darkness. Tackle the situation instead of it conquering you. You are the one who decides whether you are happy or not. Don't give away your potential to anything or anyone by allowing darkness to prevail. The past or the present is not your future.
Accept setbacks.We fill ourselves with negativity and this paralyzes us when we don't make peace with our failures. Gaining a sense of control will help avoid the feeling of helplessness and "don't make it personal," Forbes reported. Set up short-term goals and build on them. Find a new hobby, a dream or take a leap of faith by starting your own business. Ask God to direct you on the steps that need to be taken to become unstuck. "Just because you haven’t found a successful way of doing something doesn’t mean you are a failure. These are completely separate thoughts," Forbes instructed. Meditate on Scripture and know your worth, regardless of setbacks. Park read books on those who overcame great challenges to help keep hope alive. "I particularly loved biographies because they were about people who had to overcome obstacles or prejudices to get ahead. They made me think I could make it when nobody else believed in me when even I didn’t believe in myself," she wrote in her memoir: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom.
Focus on the good.When a judgment comes that you are not this or not that, cast aside those judgments and refocus on your blessings. Change your focus by getting out of your head and staying in the present. Barbara Fredrickson is a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She said "paying attention to positive emotions literally expands your world, while focusing on negative feelings shrinks it." Even if you are suffering from a big loss, like the loss of a loved one, diverting attention to something more happier will give you a boost. Additionally, focusing on positive people will help you look at the good, as negative people will divert you. When we don't, we allow ourselves to continually get sucked into a negative cycle and it will drain you. “When you have so little, just the smallest thing can make you happy," said Park.
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him," James 1:12 reminded. God is still sovereign and relinquishing control shows God your willingness to allow Him to work. This doesn’t mean that you are ignoring your circumstances. It means you are leaning on Him to carry you through. God has given you the power that you need, even when you're running on empty. If we trust our friends, bank accounts and other things, we need to tap into His power and trust in Him.
Park is a reminder of the power of the human spirit. By living through her darkness, she is a light for so many others. She was a child who overcame great adversity and defied death. Likewise, be encouraged that you can do the same, regardless of where you are at the moment.