Blessings in Disguise


“An obstacle may be either a stepping stone or a stumbling block.” ~Unknown

The first twenty some years of my life were rooted in intense emotional pain. My childhood was filled with one painful event after another.

I grew up in a neighborhood where I was the first ethnic kid, and to make matters even more complicated, I had a birth defect that made my head look like it was on crooked. This only brought more ridicule and torment from fellow classmates.

When I was nine, my birth defect was corrected and for the first time in my young life, I looked normal. However, my soul was scarred by all the humiliation and pain that I experienced. In my eyes, I was a victim and deep in my heart, I truly felt that I had done something wrong to garner such painful experiences.

Wasn’t childhood supposed to be all fun and games? Maybe for most children, but not for me. My teenage years were somewhat better to some small degree but there were some very painful experiences in that period too.

By age twenty, I was a miserable human being. I wore my pain as if it were a burden on my back. The baggage of all the tears and suffering felt like a ton. Ironically, despite all the misery, somewhere deep in my heart I knew that things would eventually get better. All that kept me going was hope.

However, despite the hope, I looked at my mistakes and failures with shame. I felt so horrible for all the bad things that happened. For some reason, I blamed myself for all the agony I had endured. That was until I read A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.

In that book, she wrote about how nothing in life happens by accident. All the things that we experience happen for a reason.

We may not see that reason at the moment, but there is a hidden purpose in any given situation. With that philosophy in mind, we can recognize that each situation is a blessing in disguise.

That book turned my life around and for the first time, I was able to look at my past and see the beauty in all that suffering. It would take me another ten years to make my peace with it but at that moment, I let go of all the self-blame.

The minute I made that decision, all the weight that I had been carrying disappeared in an instant. I felt that I could breathe and with that new found freedom, I was able to see my past with greater compassion and wisdom.

I realized that my painful past was really a blessing in so many ways. It made me compassionate. It made me develop my creative abilities and so many other wonderful things. Ironically, I may not have had a childhood as a child but I have one now and that is awesome in my mind.

So much of life boils down to how you deal with what you have. You have the choice to take the lemons that life throws you and turn them into lemon meringue pie or you can lament the situation and be paralyzed by it.

In Buddhism, one of the main concepts is the idea of the Four Noble Truths.

The first Noble Truth is that there is pain and suffering in life. No one is immune to that truth. We all have had experiences that created feelings of misery. That is part of life for that is how we grow. There is no need to lament the reality of this fact.

Complaining about your pain will not change the pain or make it go away. If anything, all that does is keep you stuck in it.

It would be wonderful if we grew only through joyous experiences but we usually don’t. The greatest learning occurs when we are faced with an obstacle. Actually, if it were not for the resistance of obstacles, many people would not make an effort to get better.

Of course, this is all easier said than done but it is doable.

The next time you are confronted with something that has the illusion of being an obstacle, simply just realize that that obstacle is not the boss of you. You are the boss of it and view it as being a stone in the right direction.

For one of the many beautiful things about being brought down to the ground is the realization that there is only one direction to go, and that is up.

Photo by brewbooks

About Nadia Ballas Ruta

Nadia Ballas-Ruta maintains her own blog at, and is a regular contributor here and at Elephant Journal. She is a free spirit who believes in being happy & green and eating as healthy as possible. You can follow her on Twitter @HappyLotus.

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  • ashley

    Most children don't really have the happy-go-lucky cliched life that everyone wishes they had so much and wishes upon their children. It's just not realistic and that version of a child is just a social construct.

    That being said, I'm glad you've turned your past pain around for a greater good. It brings hope to many, including myself. I hope you continue to grow and find new blissful roads to journey on. Cheers.

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  • Thank you for this!

  • Great article and I just love your blog! Going in to 2010 I've been doing a lot of reflecting and trying to channel my energy and frustrations to accomplish things that have been on my checklist for sometime now. “Be the boss of your obstacles”. Thanks for the friendly reminder!

  • Great article and I just love your blog! Going in to 2010 I've been doing a lot of reflecting and trying to channel my energy and frustrations to accomplish things that have been on my checklist for sometime now. “Be the boss of your obstacles”. Thanks for the friendly reminder!

  • Hi Nadia, I just read your article about your painful childhood at

    I can SO relate. I had a similar birth defect that made my head crooked that wasn’t corrected until I was 13. To make matters worse, I had the surgery just weeks before freshman year of high-school, so I entered high school wearing a neck brace. I was already a nerdy red headed boy, so my fate was sealed.

    Anyway, this is the first time I heard of anyone else with that same childhood problem. Thank you for that post.



  • Very inspiring! Thanks for the share!@

  • Valgal65

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and insight! I was just turned down for a job I really wanted and prayed for. It bummed me for about 2 hours. I woke up from this miserable moment with a sense of “There is a blessing in this”. I searche the web for validation and found your webpage and realized that this disappointment is actually a blessing in disguise. Something better is waiting for me and I just have to wait for the universe to deliver it.

  • Heatherguinn

    Thank you! I needed that. I am grateful you shared your story.

  • peter

    A great relieve! You have wonderful words of wisdom. We can rely on you for solace and comfort when we are mourning.

  • Djhueytv

    Thank you very much for sharing this information it is already helping me to put piece back together “no pain no gain” right