This weeks Random Writers prompt, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, is to write about overcoming adversity. Gil’s post on Monday, paid homage to the struggles of those surviving the Civil Rights Movement, and beautifully captivated the lessons he has personally taken from the sufferings of those who walked in terrified shoes. I would encourage each of you to take a minute to read it.
My favorite part about the Random Writers process though is our different takes on the prompt, and while I have mixed feelings about not actually honoring MLK specifically in my post this week, one quote immediately came to mind when I read the prompt and that is the direction in which my thoughts are headed today.
“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill
I don’t remember when it happened; when the realization sunk in that I was in hell. I wasn’t in just a sad or confusing place in life, I wasn’t just “having a bad spell”, we weren’t just “not getting along”. I was in actually in hell. I’m sure it was a Tuesday. Everything random happens on a Tuesday.
Hell on earth is a terrible place. There is no where to turn, no escape route, no hand reaching out to pull you from the crevasse in which your life has fallen. You’re not sure how you ended up there and you’re damn well not sure how you’re ever going to get out. It’s dark and smelly, stifling. Gasping for breathe, you wonder where future ones will come from. You can’t imagine that actually being in the fiery pit the Devil calls home could be any worse. Living hell is torture. Objects from your life swirl around you as the tornado of fury whips by you and you’re paralyzed, unable to comprehend what is going on, much less how in the world you’re going to fix it.
The greatest adversity I have faced in my almost 35 years on the planet (ugh) was separation and divorce. Disturbing, destructive, painful, arduous, and excruciating (along with a plethora of others) are all words I would use to describe the time of tribulation where I experienced my greatest adversity. Of course it was primarily an inner struggle, and not a civil uprising, but never the less, it was the time in my life that shaped most of who I am today.
The mockingbird in my childhood always sang, “you reap what you sow,” and for the life of me, I could not (and many days still can’t) wrap my brain around what I had ever reaped to deserve the abandonment, neglect and betrayal that my marriage ended in. It was a time of deep personal despair but somewhere along the way, Churchill’s words, began to be a life line for me.
“When you’re going through hell, keep going”.
Simple, yet poignant.
I began to feel as though, as cliche as it sounds, “this too would pass.” But even more importantly, the quote affirmed the fact that NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM TRIALS IN LIFE and there is only one way to deal with it . . . to go THROUGH it. You have to wade through the muck and the mire. Adversity is a wasteland that MUST be traversed to reveal true character.
The same day I took one of the hardest blows to my soul, I noticed myself skipping between office buildings. Where had this act, that could only be described as joy, come from? My heart and life truly were shattered, and here I was skipping? And with a little hop, I recognized in my own life “the peace that passes all understanding“. For the skipping made no sense at all. It had to be Jesus. I had a lifeline. I was going to be okay if I would just KEEP GOING.
I had often prayed for God to get me out of unfavorable situations, but during this period, I learned to pray for God to carry me through them. As my prayers shifted in the direction of “through”, I began to notice His mercies appearing, like a pair of wellies for the adversity trek being dropped down from the hover craft in the sky. I began to receive His grace and I began to learn and to grow. Adversity became an opportunity.
When I kept going, I learned to stand on my own two feet. I learned that I was stronger than I had ever been prior. I learned that all I needed was God, and I learned that I needed to do what He was telling me to, whether I liked it or not. I learned that I needn’t know every little detail because what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me, and there was already enough hurt to go around. Through that, I learned patience. Patience that has become grace in other relationships.
“I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents. In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts. Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path. Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me.
Learn to trust Me when things go “wrong”. Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me. Trusting acceptance of trials brings blessings that far outweigh them all. Walk hand in hand with Me through this day. I have lovingly planned every inch of the way. Trust does not falter when the path becomes rocky and steep. Breath deep draughts of My presence, and hold tightly to My hand. Together we can make it! ~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, January 18
The thing is, we ALL are going to experience hell on earth. Not a one of us exempt from it. The longer we thrash around in the muck, doing nothing but “woe-is-me-ing”, the longer we stay in our own living hell. In order to overcome adversity, we must ACCEPT adversity, and begin taking the high road out of it, one step at a time.