If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you strong. – Unknown
A life without reflection is not worth living – Socrates
When I was eighteen, I went through my first major crisis. I just didn’t seem to belong to a school my siblings attended. Some called me crazy for leaving safe and familiar patterns. In their eyes, I was a rebel without cause. But I was so unhappy and miserable in an environment of the fittest. You can say I was a misfit. I had to leave home emotionally, a risk we all must take and endure to become a separate individual. In hindsight, our vision is always 20/20 so I could see that risks involved anxieties. Like a child taking her first step, mother was concerned that I’d fall on my face and get hurt. Today, I will not trade my freedom of choice for fear of rejections or abandonment. Conversely, I am convinced that God goaded me out so I can be found. Although at the time, it seemed like I were running away from God. When asked if he had found God, William Wilberforce (18th Century Slave Abolitionist) replied, “No, I think He found me.” Just as John Newton’s Amazing Grace, “I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see!”
Writing this column risks my being criticized, ridiculed, or even rejected. But even now at 60-something, I’m still growing – spiritually evolving.
Stories demand participatory listening. Some stories leave us hanging… I suppose for one to make it his own and finish it. But all teaches us something we can take with us on our journey.
A father returned home to find his apartment on fire. Firemen were working hard to stop the fire. In all that racket and madness, the boy heard his father’s voice and went to the window. The boy got out onto the ledge as smoke, heavy and rising, made it impossible for him to see below. His dad saw him and called out again, “Jump, son. I’ll catch you.” The boy cried, “But, Dad, I can’t see you.” His father replied, “It’s okay son, I can see you.” He trusted and jumped into his father’s loving arms.
I used to work for an amazingly brilliant man as his assistant, writing and editing his work. He liked my work and encouraged me when I showed sign of fear [of failure]. He’d say, “Creativity is power, keep at it.” He became head of the department in the field of his expertise. Consequently, many positions opened up for grabs. He told me to apply, quoting an old sage: “One bird in the hand is better than two in a bush.” I took that to mean he’ll pick me. I was not. With difficulty, I put on my professional face and accepted their selection. I was heartbroken. That evening, I went home in tears, went straight to bed and hid under covers. Around 3:00 A.M., I was awakened by a windstorm. I sat up and looked out…the trees were tortured unmercifully by the wind [like my heart]. Rain began to pour. Two things came to mind as I watched the storm. First, I thought of Jesus talking to Nicodemus about being born again, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.” I cried, “What are you working in me, GOD?”
Second was when I was a First Grader. I didn’t want to go to school in the rain. I pouted. As a child I couldn’t express my feelings, but in reflection, I see that I didn’t want to go to school and be laughed at and ridiculed because I had a speech impediment. (I’m telling you…I’m a misfit). Mother tried nicely… the child didn’t bend. Father entered the picture and I thought, “Good, he’ll rescue me.” I was wrong. I learned that day that my father was a hard taskmaster, “Go to school now and stop complaining! Maybe our neighbor’s water tank is empty and asked God for rain.
In essence, Paul was reminding the Ephesians that wisdom without revelation is useless. Wisdom I learned in the past was revealed what I needed later in life. Maybe the other applicant needed the job more than I did. I went back to sleep trusting that I’m not forgotten by the One who made the wind and the rain. He is my refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Maturity is a social process. Every obstacle comes to teach us something. I knew then and now, that the sadness and setbacks of my life are not unique to me. I have learned that there is no peace without trouble, no rest without strain, no laughter without sorrow, no victory without struggle and that is the price we all pay for living.
BTW, I was offered the position four days after the storm. I took it regardless of the fact that I was not the first choice. After all, survivors don’t get to choose.

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