Adversity, difficulties, or even calamitous events catch up with most of us at some point in our lives. The less we've had of them, the more likely we may be to ask, "Why me?" Life's problems are things that happen to others, but never to us because we're good people, right? But, terrible things can and do happen — even to good people.
Sandy's husband Mike (names have been changed) left her for another woman after many years of marriage. Sandy has five children and once believed that she had the perfect marriage and family. Sandy is a bright, giving person who is still very active in her faith. None of that was enough to protect her from her husband's eventual decision to live his life without her.
Mike left Sandy years ago. She's a grandmother now and has never remarried. Even though she has several beautiful grandchildren, she has never been able to enjoy them. She's still too bitter about how her life turned out. She finds it hard to be thankful for anything. The clock is ticking, and Sandy's life is wasting away.
The real question is not why did this happen to Sandy, but how can she overcome what happened and move on? Not everyone does move on, of course. These folks are the ones who get stuck and are victimized twice. The first time, perhaps, by some accident or event not of their own doing. The second time when they don't realize that it's up to them to pick up the pieces and move on.
Mourn first and then kick booty
My niece Whitney's dad, Dean, contracted brain cancer several months ago. It began with a persistent headache, followed by surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Dean is a fit and healthy runner, so no one expected this kind of thing to happen to him.
Of course the whole family was devastated. They cried, they hugged each other, they wondered why this had happened to their dad and grandpa. But, eventually they pulled together, rather than pulling apart. They supported Dean through his radiation. On his final day of radiation, the whole family celebrated by having a "kick cancer's booty party."
Then they formed team IronDean and started running to raise money to help other people fight cancer. Of course all this positive energy and support couldn't help but boost Whitney's dad's spirits and improve his health. Today the family is taking life one day at a time, while working to send Dean to the Iron Man Triathlon in Kona. It's been amazing to watch this family in action. It took me 15 long years to overcome adversity and the loss of faith in my own life. It took the Bullock family a few months.
Stepping up to face life's challenges is a choice. It's not something others just do because they're stronger. It's possible for all of us. In fact, out of adversity can flower strength, renewed faith and compassion.
Beautiful people don't just happen
The author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people don't just happen."
Think about that last line. Beautiful people don't just happen. Instead their characters are forged in the furnaces of adversity.
Let us find the grace to face life's problems, kick them squarely in the booty, and then move on.