So often in life we get faced with challenges that we look at as negatives. We see these things standing in our way and we think to ourselves “What do I do now?” or “This was a bad idea.”
The farther along this journey of life that I traverse, the more I’ve come to realize that the challenges were placed in front of us intentionally to see what we’re made of. To see if we will just roll over and accept what is happening. To see if our resolve is shaken or if we will press on.
It’s in moments of adversity, points of conjecture, flashes of dismay in our paths that the most epic of all our life’s experiences take place. Just around the bend, as it were. And that is exactly when so many people live lives of “less than”. Because they believe that the adversity, the dismay, are signs that they need to try something else. That it is not going according to plan and they need a new plan. I believe something else entirely. At least, I do now.
I wasn’t always that way. For over a decade after the last time I cut myself, for nearly 2 decades after my first line of coke, I saw everything as a negative. And you know what? When you focus on negativity, you are sure as hell going to find it. And the more you focus, the more you’ll find. I spent most of my life in that horrid, damning cycle. I had an addiction to drugs and alcohol in that cycle and I was embarrassed to tell anyone about it. I nearly ended my own life, cut and burned my own flesh for years while spinning in that cycle and for years during and after I wore long layers of clothing to hide the scars. I cheated on the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on while stuck, spiraling cyclically through life. And it was after all of that had washed away and I came to a place in life where I could do nothing except look in and at myself that I realized the following 2 facts.
1. My life was full of God-awful events, most if not all of which I caused for myself.
2. I overcame every single one of them to become the pretty solid example of a person that I am today. I am a damn good husband to my wife. I am an awesome father to my three kids and my friends enjoy my company and trust me to have their backs and tell them the truth. I am all of those things now, because of all of the other things I did then.
So as I said, I believe something entirely different. What I believe is that each of the moments we encounter, specifically the ones where we feel the need to be sad about, to be distraught by, to be thwarted because of, to turn around at, are the defining moments of our greatest achievements. When we look back at things that we are not so proud of, things like cutting, addiction, and adultery, we tell ourselves that those are dark, dark corners of our past. A part of us that should be tucked away and allowed to gather dust. Allowed to be lost in the abyss. But truly my friends, I believe that we should be most proud of those moments.
“Why on Earth would I be proud of those moments Adam?”
I’m so glad you asked. And I’ll use myself as the example. I look back at the fact that I had an affair. I used to look at it as a dismal, disgusting thing. And in one way it is. It IS dismal and disgusting to do that to the woman you love. I was a complete waste of space during that time in my life and the wounds I created for myself and my family were awful. But in a completely different way I can look back at the defining moment when I took back control of my life, rededicated myself to being the best father, husband, person I had the potential to be and you know what? My marriage has never been better.
Am I condoning my affair? Absolutely not. But I choose to look back at it as the time in my life where I realized what I was failing at and chose to succeed once again. That, my friends, is a victory, not a defeat. And we tell people all the time when we win, not so much when we lose. I won back my life. I won back my wife and my kids. That was a truly despicable situation that overcame, that my wife overcame, that my kids overcame, and we have an incredible bond and a torrent of positivity to show for it.
You see the negative, I choose to see the positive. Potato, potato (I really hope you said it both ways just now).
I’ll give you another example. I struggled with drugs for years. And I, along with hundreds, probably thousands of recovering addicts looked at the addiction looming in our past as a thing to be embarrassed about and see we just hide it. We allow our new self to be wholly apart from the old and people would never guess that we ever were that other, sick person. I look at my addiction as a badge of honor. I survived what many would call a death sentence. I got through something that takes the lives of men and woman of all ages every day and can stand tall and say that it didn’t take me. I know the horrible nature of addiction, and I know that it is not something to be afraid to talk about. It is something to be proud as hell to share with the world. You are a recovering addict, which means that you fell deep, deep into a pit and climbed back out again. You are a mountain climber. You are a victor. I know I am.
You may see the darkness of saying you have an addiction. I see the light in saying the same. Tomato, tomato (Did you do it there too? Good).
Life isn’t supposed to be easy. God didn’t make our lives to be a cake walk. Success isn’t ever going to just happen. It takes the tenacity to see the adversity, the struggle, the conflict, the whatever you’re facing, and say thank you. To acknowledge that it IS hard. That it IS frustrating. But also that it IS crafting you into the successful human being you were meant to be.
We are missing an opportunity every day because of the things that happen that we think are negative. When we think of them negatively, they negate our energy, our mood, our drive to be bigger than before, our persistence to be “greater than”. When we flip the script, when we think of them positively, they empower us. They fuel our fire, open doors for us, kickstart the juke box that is playing the theme song to Rocky that rolls in the background of the epic scene in our lives when we kick the living hell out of our struggles and stand victoriously atop the pile of those struggles proclaiming that we not only overcame, but we won, fair and square, and are 100% undeniably successful.