Adversity as advantage
“The reality is that our struggles and suffering give us the context to tell the greatest story of our lives”- Erwin Mcmanus, The Artisan Soul
I was recently asked the question “When was the last time you changed a belief? What was it?”
The answer to this question is my ‘why’ behind writing this post. My hope is that my words reflect my heart and nothing more.
But first, a little context about myself. I happen to be at quite an interesting junction in my life, a transitional period if you will. Where I have decided to leave one path for another.
No, this isn’t a story about some millennial kid in his mid 20’s going through a quarter life crisis. The circumstances of my situation may be uncertain, but I’ve never been more clear during my 24 years on this earth.
When I talk about being clear. I’m talking about a clarity thats grounded in my identity and vision, in spite of my circumstances. Or in other words, a calm and focus thats rooted in who I am and what I’m meant to do, irrelevant of whats happening around me. This internal rooting is like being anchored and secured to something sturdy during a storm. Any initial fear, turns into joy and exhilaration.
This is not to say I don’t have any doubts. There are plenty. But thats where acting out on intentional decisions and keeping your dreams close to you comes in. I call it the three Ds: doubts, decisions and dreams. They all come together as a package deal, and that’s a good thing! But I digress, something for another post perhaps.
Back to the answer of the last time I changed a belief.
Without getting into the details, there was a season of my life that I felt like I was stuck in a cycle of endless pain, disappointment and defeat. This was my first real ‘face to face’ with adversity, and it was in these moments, that everything changed for me.
To explain, I have borrowed the words from a book I am currently reading called “The Artisan Soul” by Erwin Mcmanus which so poignantly encapsulates this change that happened in my life.
“suffering finds its beauty only when there is meaning and intention.”
This simple shift in belief about the adversity I was facing, is what gave me hope. Especially whenever I felt like giving in and just accepting the painful banality of suffering at the hands of my situation.
I still remember very clearly, of feeling so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Like carrying the burden of a yoke, you just couldn’t shake off. And just when I would feel like my body and mind could take no more,
My heart would whisper.
“There’s more to this then what you’re feeling”
“What more is there to this? WHY ME? WILL IT ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS” I would reply in desperation
“This pain, has to have a purpose”
I realized now, that my heart was refusing to believe in a reality of being defined by my suffering.
“you are going through this so that you can help others who are going through something similar”
The meaning was so simple yet so profound to me. Which fed into the intention of working my way through my adversity so that I would have a way to give back to something bigger than myself, others.
This shift in perspective did not come over night, however. It was a slow gradual process of going from contemplation to believing to finally living it out. Every time I was met with a set back and would start to feel overwhelmed by my situation, it gave my heart the opportunity to choose purpose over pain. This would happen on a moment to moment basis and slowly but surely, the inner voice of my heart started to get louder than the external voice of my circumstance. Breakthrough is a not an overnight journey. You will definitely be met with many setbacks. That’s why you must grab on to all the insight and resilience that is gifted throughout this painfully beautiful process.
This is still a narrative that I live out in my everyday. Adversity still comes in many forms but my internal fortitude is anchored in a new belief. A belief that adversity is simply a guide towards a greater purpose.
We are all the storytellers of our own lives, where we can choose to interpret adversity through the lens of meaning and intention. And once we’ve made that choice, adversity can become like the roots of a tree.
The deeper they go, the higher the tree can grow.