As my last formal blog post on this website, I serendipitously have come full circle—ending with a motif in which this blog began–as a follow up to the men’s anthology that I edited, Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives: Defining Moments. That theme involves surmounting hardships and life challenges. (I will be posting a casual blog next week and as of Jan., 2015, I’ll begin publishing relationship-oriented blogs at www.energyforlife.us. All of my previous blogs will be preserved on that site.)
Last night I was deeply touched and inspired by the touted movie, The Theory of Everything, a romantic drama about the crowning achievements of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his ex-wife. For me, the most cogent messages of this British film were that deep love, strong commitment and passion for one’s life purpose can trump even severe adversity. As a doctoral student, Hawking contracted motor neuron disease—better known as ASL or Lou Gehrig’s disease—a degenerative disorder that quickly incapacitates its victims. Hawking was told that he had two years to live. Buoyed by his burning drive to explain the very essence of cosmology, and by his wife’s unwavering devotion to him for years, Hawking became world-renowned for his work and remains alive today, about 50 years after incurring his debilitating disorder. Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein, Hawking’s international best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, has sold over ten million copies. Stephen has also exuded love for his three now-adult children and an endearing sense of humor.
Most of us know at least several accounts of people who have overcome huge odds to lead amazing lives. You may even be of those people. However, each of us can delve into our own life stories and find colorful examples of heroism and achievement in the face of conflicts and adversities.
I laid awake for nearly two hours early this morning pondering many of the numerous ways in which I’ve been shaped by life challenges, injuries, humiliations and periods of depression. My heart rejoiced at how I gleaned vital lessons from dark times and countless “mini-deaths,” and how I’ve risen from a shy, oft-withdrawn youth to a very loving man, who serves and is richly rewarded on many fronts. In a nutshell, I attribute my diverse successes to strong will—including intentionality, discipline and persistence—and to a lot of grace. Ultimately, even “my” will is a form of grace, which I’d call G-d’s Will.
I highly encourage you to take inventory of your growth in various areas of your life that has occurred because of, rather than despite, the tough blows that you have been dealt—ranging from small to large ones. I promise you that you will find this exercise most informative and gratifying! In the process, you may garner more self-confidence, courage and sense of purpose.