by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Sharing our life lessons offers hope, encouragement and inspiration to others.

It’s comforting to have someone empathize with us. It may not be possible to walk in each other’s shoes, but it helps us and them when we try. Everyone has feelings and hopes — they don’t have to be the same as ours for us to relate to and support each other. Celebrating our similarities and differences helps build respect for one another and helps us clarify our own beliefs, values and goals, too.

There have been times when I was depressed and a friend would share a similar experience they had. Before this I felt alone and like the only person in the world who had to deal with whatever it was. Hearing how someone else has worked through a calamity is encouraging, even if their solution is different from what could work for you.

One friend said her “Aha!” was realizing she could retire early. She wrote, “Recent layoffs caused me concern so I checked my retirement benefits to see what would happen if I should be asked to leave now. I found that I could retire now, not collect until 2010, and there was virtually no difference in the amount I would receive in retirement benefits. We were able to pay off our home this year so my loss of income for 15 months won’t be an issue, and now I will have the time to travel to Denver more often to see my mom while she still has some quality time left. God has certainly lined everything up perfectly. WooooHoooo!!!!”

After getting her feelings hurt by someone in her Writer’s Group, this friend said a recent article I wrote resulted in an “Aha!” moment for her. She wrote, “I was reminded of a time as a child when I was asked to leave a group because I was too hyper and not “fitting in” with the rest of the girls. (It was a Brownie Scouts troop.) There have been times in my life when that event, along with others of the same nature, has led me to leave groups or people before being asked to leave. I read your article on letting go of grudges and realized I could let go of the hurt of that time long ago and that I had options on how to handle the present situation. The thoughts in your article led me to get past an old pattern of withdrawal when I had been angered or hurt.”

A friend shared, “I suppose my greatest “Aha” experience was when my daughter had to have surgery for scoliosis. I had just taught her how to do the back flip off the diving board at the lake. At the same time the school discovered the scoliosis through a routine screening at school, her teachers called me in for a parent teachers’ conference and from there I discovered she was having seizures. All this happened within a three week period. To make a long story short, none of her doctors could give me a definite answer as to whether, when they put her to sleep to do the surgery on her back, she would wake up or go into a coma because of the seizures.” This mother shared how her prayers resulted in the realization that God was the divine Parent of both herself and her daughter — the Father-Mother God who was ever caring for, protecting, and loving all of His children. She said, “The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.” The surgery went well.

Another mother wrote, “The moment when I knew my life would never be the same was when my son was born. Before I became a mother, I never thought about parenthood so deeply, but suddenly I realized that parenthood changes everything. Suddenly you’re living for the sake of another person, and you have to think about his/her needs at all times, often ignoring your own needs and desires. And the bond is eternal, because our spirits live eternally. Our children and our parents inevitably die, sooner or later, but the spirits live on forever, and therefore there is an eternal connection between a person and his/her parents. A person can have more than one husband or wife, but each of us has only one father and one mother. When I think about the influence my father and especially my mother had on me, it reminds me to be very careful how I speak to and act with my son.”

One friend shared about the “Ahas!” that come when she is learning something new. She describes herself as a slow learner. When her husband tries to teach her something new on the computer, for example, it may take a few times before an “Aha!” clicks and she gets it.

I’ve certainly had to repeat many life lessons before I truly understood their importance and value!

“Ahas!” — Life’s grand lessons — come in all shapes and sizes. Some may seem rather inconsequential while others result in dramatic changes in our life. But all “Ahas!” effect and influence our life in some way, making each one significant and important.

Once again, may you have many “Aha!” moments, my friends, and share these precious lessons with everyone you can!