Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1
There are numerous threads of commonality that weave themselves throughout our life. We all have dreams and aspirations, flaws and shortcomings. Some are more noticeable than others. But the threads that so tightly knit us together as one fabric are the ones stitched around pain and crisis.
It's an undeniable fact that every individual on earth falls into one of three categories: currently in a crisis, just got out of a crisis, or a crisis is on the horizon.
The trauma can be in form of a health, family or professional emergency. Disaster and dilemma can also be success-related. Difficulties in life are universal and inevitable. To live with constant anxiety and stress while enduring these "storms of life" can be one of the most harmful and destructive choices we can decide upon.
Dr. Hans Selye defines stress as "the rate of wear and tear within the body."
Our body's initial reaction and response to stress is to create an alarm reaction. One of the most powerful and empowering books I've read concerning stress was, “In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost”, by Dr. Gabor Mate.
Dr. Mate’s book on addiction, and it’s devastating consequences, pointed out three universal truths and reasons for stress in our lives: uncertainty, lack of information, and a loss of control. To deal appropriately with the troubles of life there needs to be an understanding of these three truths, and a developed skill set representing logical and reasonable behavior and thinking that will thwart the devastating ramification of stress in our lives.
Knowledge is the knowing, but wisdom is the doing.
It takes more than just dealing with and acknowledging stress, there has to be a deeper understanding of why the stress is present in the first place, and what we can do to eliminate it’s destructive force.
Last night I finished Malcolm Gladwell's book entitled: "David and Goliath - underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants", and what I learned is in numerous instances, where a severe predicament is present in our life, we often feel more like how David was perceived, with the results we experience being on the level of Goliath.
We think of our self as the "disadvantaged David", being chased down by the overwhelming giant, Goliath, forgetting that David was the actual winner, not loser.
I also was learned how little I knew about that epic battle which took place over some 3000 years ago.
What we think of as an advantage many times is not one, and the disadvantages we entertain can often be an advantage.
Twelve presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — lost their fathers while they were young. Major disadvantage. Marvin Eisenstadt, a psychologist, researched a number of major encyclopedias, looking for people whose biographies "merited more than one column" — and of 573 people, Gladwell reports, "a quarter had lost at least one parent before the age of 10. By age 15, 34.5 percent had had at least one parent die, and by the age of 20, 45 percent. Even for the years before the 20th century, when life expectancy due to illness and accidents and warfare was much lower than it is today, those are astonishing numbers."
Losing your father at a young age is a major disadvantage… right? Losing any parent at a young age is a tremendous blow, but it doesn't have to be a handicap for the rest of your life.
We all have the potential to triumph over any and every dilemma, or tragic event that may occur in our life.
On the flip side we can look at first generation mega wealthy families and their perceived advantage, and see all the problems the parents encounter raising their children. The intention of a first generation wealthy parent to give their children everything and expose them to every positive opportunity is a good and noble thing… right? Who doesn't want to give their child everything? So again I ask you, "That is a good thing right?" The overwhelming response would be, "no." Unfortunately, most of the time it is a prescription for failure.
If we were playing tennis it would be "Advantage - disadvantage."
What we think as an advantage is not necessarily so, and what we perceive as a disadvantage can often be the advantage we need in order to thrive.
In crisis there is tremendous difficulty, but there are times the difficulty can be desirable leading to a positive outcome. In the "Theory of Desirable Difficulty” Gladwell tells the story of David Boies, who credits his dyslexia for forcing him to compensate by developing skills of observation and memory.
David Boies is an American lawyer and chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner. He has been involved in various high-profile cases in the United States.
Gladwell asks, “You wouldn’t wish dyslexia on your child. Or would you?”
No one wants their child diagnosed with a learning disability, but the truth of the matter is many CEO's were diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. Many, if not all, credit their success to the simple fact that their handicap aided them in handling failure at a very young age, and they credited their dyslexia with cultivating an environment which aided them into becoming great at something.
That "something" often is the precipitous factor that propels a person to great heights in their career, and life, all the while reminding us that it rains a lot during a storm, but the sun will/can eventually come out, shinning its rays upon the face of a once tormented soul.
There were other topics Gladwell covered such as the "limits of power" and the "principle of legitimacy" when it comes to authority that were illuminating and interesting.
Before I dare say anymore, I will let you read the book.
It's worthy of your time.
Tanzio da Varallo, David and Goliath, c. 1625
In the end, everything starts with the mind, a thought. Proverbs 23:7 states; "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." We are what we think, what we do. James Allen wrote in “As a Man Thinketh” that “action is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus do we garner in the sweet and bitter harvest of our own plantings. We are what we think we are. If our mind has evil thoughts, we will suffer pain; if our thoughts are pure, joy will follow.”
Ultimately, what we say yes or no to will find its genesis in our mind, with our thinking and ruminations. What we decide is worthy of stress and anxiety will deliver just that, anxiety and stress.
God's word is replete with passages that admonish us to "cast our burdens" upon Him, and "to pray about everything, and worry about nothing." But countless tales will tell us what we think of our crisis is what that crisis will become.
A catastrophe doesn't have to be fatal or final.
Even in the crisis that is called death we can still reach tremendous heights. Just ask our twelve Presidents that lost a father at a young age.
The storms of life are difficult terrain to navigate, but in more instances than we could ever imagine we can be the David, perceived disadvantage and all.
Sometimes a "sling shot" of a chance is all we need, especially when the sling shot is God, and the ammunition is a little pebble of faith.