All things considered, I have felt pretty sucky about my life as of late. I know, you’ve probably read the sob story before. I graduated with a Finance degree last December and had a great internship in the financial services industry, and I was rockin’ it. All of the sudden, my wife and I felt strongly that we should move to Arkansas to be closer to her family (she grew up in Texas but they moved to Arkansas for her dad’s job). Since we’ve been here, I spent 6 months being unemployed with lots of interviews and nothing to show for it, then I’ve spent another 4 months being underemployed and not really enjoying where I am. I feel like I’ve been working my butt off trying to find a way out, but everywhere I go, doors close off. I’ve been depressed and angry. I’ve spent hours thinking about where the guys I graduated high school with are right now. I’ve talked with guys I graduated college with who are ballin’ at Fortune 500 companies or one of the Big Four accounting firms (which I have specifically written against). At times, it’s been soul-wrenching.
But I’ve also been thoughtful, especially lately. I’m not one to believe in coincidences. I believe there’s a purpose for everything, and I also believe God has a plan for my life. As I’ve been thinking about that lately, I read an old article today by a former leader in my church called Sweet are the Uses of Adversity.
A few things jumped out at me while I was reading it. The first was the story behind the words of William Cowper’s hymn, “God Moves in Mysterious Ways His Wonders to Perform”.
William Cowper, a noted English poet, returning home one night in a dense London fog became completely and hopelessly lost. Try as he would, the driver could not find his home. Finally, the cabby stopped and said, “It is hopeless.” Alighting from the carriage, Cowper groped his way to a doorway—to find that he was on his own doorstep. He went in and penned these lines, now the lyrics of the hymn, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way His Wonders to Perform.”
“Ye fearful Saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”
There have been times when I’ve felt hopelessly lost, and there have been times when I’ve just wanted to freak out and say screw it and believe all the people who tell me that saving just a couple hundred a month is good enough and I make good money as a bank teller. But then I read this quote by Thomas Carlyle, whose works about the French revolution were the primary source of A Tale of Two Cities.
Out of the lowest depths there is a path to the loftiest heights
BAM! How do you like them apples? It got me to thinking about what the point of adversity is. I mean, we all go through it. It doesn’t matter of you believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Life just sucks sometimes, and that’s okay. The point of it is that you come out stronger. If you don’t, then there is no point. Self-pity isn’t going to get you anywhere, and neither is worrying about your future. Just take a step back, look at what’s working and what isn’t, and start making changes. There are probably going to be a lot of things you can’t change. Stop worrying about them and focus on the things you can. And always remember there’s a way out. Don’t be a wiener and just lie down and give up.
And finally, the original use of the phrase from Señor Shakespeare
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head
As I’ve been thinking back over the past year, I’m definitely not where I wanted to be. But all things considered, maybe I’m where I’m supposed to be. If I spend all my time complaining and whining about how life is unfair, I’ll miss out on some good life lessons that I can use to take some of my failures and turn them into successes. Right now I’m staring that butt ugly toad in the eyes because I know what’s behind them. And it’s only a matter of time before I take it.
What are some hard things you’ve beasted through? What have you gained from it?