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  • Writer's pictureClara T. Mills

The Very Thing that Brought You Down will Carry You Up

One of my favorite movies is the Disney classic, Dumbo. Dumbo is this adorable cute little elephant who was born with enormously large ears. These big ears set Dumbo apart from the other elephants. Dumbo was teased, bullied, ostracized, even blamed for misfortunes within the community, because of his enormously large ears. It seemed the only one within Dumbo’s community who “valued him for who he was” (gigantic ears and all), was his mother. And even Dumbo’s mother was victimized by this community because she chose to stand up for her child.

As fate would have it, a most unlikely character became Dumbo’s most beneficial ally. That character was a little mouse named Timothy. It was Timothy the mouse who not only befriended Dumbo, but persistently worked with Dumbo until Dumbo learned to transform those big ears into his greatest asset. On one occasion, because of a serendipitous experience, Dumbo discovered that with those big ears he could do what no other elephant had ever done and that is fly. With that serendipitous discovery, Timothy the mouse spoke these prophetic empowering life-changing words to Dumbo, "The very thing that held you down will carry you up."

Well, of course Dumbo is a fictional character and no elephant has ever been able to fly (at least not yet) but there are several empowering, life enhancing messages that can inform and potentially transform how many of us live our lives. I invite you to consider the following:

1. Whatever physical characteristics we inherit at birth are by divine design. To denigrate another because of physical characteristics inherited at birth (or to elevate another because of such qualities) is asinine, to say the least. We are all spiritual beings housed in physical bodies and we are here to learn and grow as spiritual beings. Everything about us, in terms of the qualities we inherit at birth, are our resources; resources not only through which we may best present ourselves to the world, but also through which we and others might best learn compassion, acceptance, trust, patience, surrendering, openness, humility, and gratitude.

While there are some physical qualities which are correctable and may in fact become impediments to our well-being, even those physical characteristics may be opportunities for those around us to learn and express compassion and acceptance. My son Frankie, for example, was born with “pigeon toes”, a condition which caused his feet to turn inward. The first six months of his young life he wore casts to correct this condition. Through this experience, I learned compassion, patience, acceptance, self-forgiveness (I just knew it was my fault), that I had to surrender to the doctors to correct what I could not, and trust, all qualities which helped me be a better Mom and person.

2. Learn to see yourself (first and foremost) through the eyes of God. To see oneself through the eyes of God, we must know God for ourselves. To know God, we must deliberately embark on a spiritual journey of self discovery, studying sacred texts, meditating on those texts, and asking for wisdom and understanding.

While there are many great books, including the Christian Bible, the Judaic Torah, the Buddhist Sutra and the Islamic Koran, which give us insight into the mind of God and help us align our ways of being in the world with God, there are other writers who help expand on the truths contained in these books. One book I suggest is This Thing Called You by Ernest Holmes (author of The Science of Mind).

3. Live with the knowledge that every challenge and obstacle is a potential resource. Every setback, as someone said, can be “a setup for a comeback”. Every disappointment can potentially be a means through which we discover how tough we really are. Every mental challenge such as anxiety and depression ( pervasive in our contemporary society) may become the “burden bearer's” greatest assets. I have watched individuals maneuver the difficult waters of living while burdened with anxiety and depression. Many of the daily tasks so many of us take for granted are often accomplished because of tremendous effort and determination by those who struggle with anxiety and depression. And I have been inspired by their tenacity! I have marveled at their persistence, as they keep on “pushing through” in efforts live full lives (with and without medication)! I have been encouraged as I observe these individuals never give up on their dreams, no matter how difficult achieving those dreams may be!

How informative and transforming would the personal testimonies of these individuals be, not only to others dealing with similar challenges, but for all of us? Their stories can potentially inspire compassion, acceptance, trust, and most of all gratitude and teach many of us how we might transform our challenges into assets.

4.     And lastly, we must be open to encountering the most unlikely allies. Like Timothy the mouse who helped Dumbo transform his big ears into his greatest asset, sometimes our help comes from the most unlikely sources. Of course, the decision is ours to make as to who is our most unlikely ally and not a decision to be made “for us, by others”.

May each of us embark on a deliberate spiritual journey of self-discovery, seeking to see ourselves through the eyes of God. May we embrace our uniqueness and know that “we are created in the image and likeness of God” and, as such, "we are good". May each of us encounter those allies in our journey who selflessly and persistently assist us in transforming "the very things that held us down into the resources which take us to new heights”.


Image by Matt Flores
Image by Erik Brolin
Image by Juno Jo
Image by Julianna Corbett
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