Adversity. Opposition. Setback. Why do these words bring us emotional discomfort? Some of you are already thinking about specific circumstances you're going through right now. And you're tensing up and getting anxious.
And that is completely understandable. I face opposition on a daily basis in my law practice. And typically I take the worry home with me. Why? Because I think I will lose the case. Or I think I will lose my clients' confidence. Or I think I'll look stupid in front of nine appellate judges. And those worries are pretty minor to your cancer, or dying son, or you property foreclosure.
Now think about what life would be like without your adversity . . . Without your cancer . . . Without someone trying to harm you . . . Without your accuser telling lies . . . It may seem nice for a moment, but I don't think we would do very well without it.
Adversity is a motivator. It forces you to move. It is a teacher. It forces you to make decisions. It forces you to stand up for what really matters to you. It forces you to evaluate what does really matter to you. Adversity makes you strong . . . If you let it.
How do we let suffering produce perseverance in us? How do we let perseverance produce character in us? We have to turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones.
I had a situation that has been the single most stressful event in my life. And then add trying to complete a law degree and a MBA while this is happening. And at this point, I had just started a relationship with my then future wife. I remember certain days that I was nearly nauseous with feelings of despondency. I literally did not know what to do with my adversity on a regular basis. At that time I thought everyone was against me. I thought my career would be hindered. I thought my dreams were collapsing in front of me.
Looking back, I can see that the ENTIRE situation was beneficial to me (well and to my wife). Because I was faced with some unbelievable opposition on a daily basis, I was forced to take steps to rebuff it. I was forced to encounter people to plead my cause. I was forced to learn how to write assertively but kindly. I was also forced to understand what many of my clients go through daily. Fear and unfounded accusing.
One of the MOST important lessons from that time was that I developed life altering relationships with some of my favorite people. I became closer to people that have been a blessing to me time and time again.
Not everyone was against me. My career hasn't been hindered. In fact it has been fantastically benefited. My dreams were not crushed.
Although you may feel like I did, it is not true. You are facing this for a purpose. You are facing this adversity to be shown with high character. You are facing opposition to be an example for others when they face their adversity.
When you're faced with constant adversity, utilize that time to find out who you are, what you're good at, and where you're going. With each act you take, see it as an opportunity to learn something new. See it as an opportunity to build new relationships. Turn your suffering into perseverance, and your perseverance into character. Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.