Are you being persecuted or are you being delivered?
Our knee-jerk reaction when things go wrong is to blame something, to ask “why me” and to walk around in a fog of confusion as to what comes next.
I think too often we feel like we are being persecuted rather than potentially being delivered to a better place.
I was listening to a sermon by my pastor this weekend about this exact topic and thinking back on the points in my life when I felt persecuted, or confused, and later understood that I was actually being blessed and molded.
Eventually you turn from asking “why” in these circumstances to looking for the “what” — what could I have done to prevent this? What should I do now? What is it that I’m supposed to be doing? What is next?
When I was 13 I wanted to play football. My father and his father before him were both great athletes at FSU and Georgia Tech, and I wanted to be as well. I wanted to play wide receiver, as I was fast, could jump high, was above average height, and had great hands. I was ready to try out for my school’s team, and that summer I broke my arm.
I couldn’t play ball for the entire summer, I couldn’t practice, and I wouldn’t be able to lift weights for over 2 years. Georgia was a pretty big football state, so if you weren’t able to lift weights you simply weren’t aloud to play on the teams.
I was pretty depressed, I had to find other ways of letting out my competitive nature — which quickly turned to video games and esports.
I wouldn’t realize for many years that the skills I learned by starting to play computer games and reconfigure code on these games at an early age gave me the ability to pursue a career in technology. It gave me the understanding to learn quickly and problem solve. It gave me the strategy and leadership skills I needed to later lead a company.
Ever since that point I have been able to focus on the what in circumstances rather than the why. Instead of saying ‘why me’, I say ‘what now’.
Many events happened after that to cement this outlook:
- When I totaled my car with 3 friends in it, everyone was luckily alright but all of the friends I hung out with at the time stopped hanging out with me, which I later learned was because they were using me as a rent-a-car. It was a blessing that I was not longer being used and could find true friends.
- When my brother had a few horrible things happen in his life which led me to move to Florida to live with him, which is where I later started my career and met my now wife.
- When I took a construction job when I first moved down to Florida, and for weeks on end had the word “can’t” eradicated from my vocabulary by my boss who believed in me and hated my lack of self esteem. Later it gave me the strength and confidence in myself that still drives me today.
- When I was fired from that construction job, only a week later to get an entry level job at a marketing firm to start my career. I would never have pushed so hard to learn all I could about the industry if I didn’t have to impress someone in an interview the next week.
All of these things hurt in the moment, but in the long-term they were drops of bitter medicine that I’m blessed to have tasted.
There are likely events in your life that you might have taken out of context, that you looked at from a why perspective rather than from a what perspective. It’s okay that that happened, but look at them now and see where they led you, for better or for worse.
Now let the ‘what’ fuel you as you go through trials in the future. Let your losses speak to your future self and lead to successes.
Let your failures become fuel for your success.
No longer should you curse the darkness, but light a candle.