Motivation & Adversity
I’m Back – Bouncing Back From Difficult Times
G Samuel Verret
11 January 2017
Life happens. It doesn’t matter how positive an attitude you have or how balanced and centered you are, there are going to be times when you are knocked down. There will be times when your carefully organized life is turned upside down and you get knocked on your rear end. Life happens.
You will no doubt experience serious illness in either yourself or someone close to you. You may be challenged with the loss of a loved one, a divorce or perhaps the loss of a job or any numbers of situations that will leave you feeling like you were kicked in the stomach.
Let’s face it. These things will happen. They’re part of life and no matter how you try to explain them away with the idea that, “everything happens for a reason,” they hurt. A lot! They hurt at the very core of your being. The pain begins in your heart and radiates throughout your entire being.
During these times, you’re going to feel down, even depressed. You probably feel anger or some other manifestation of your pain. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s ok. It’s ok to feel hurt, sad, angry, or whatever your true feelings are. You cannot deny pain any more than can deny the reality of the difficulty you are going through.
The question is not whether or not you will feel down. The question is for how long will you stay in this state? And what are you going to do to get through it.
The difference between people who get through life’s challenging moments, regardless of their seriousness, and those who are immobilized by the events is what I call the “bouncebackability factor.”
How quickly can you bounce back? There is no set time for how long it will take to bounce back. It could be days, weeks, or even years. Some difficulties are easy to bounce back from. Some are not so easy. The magnitude of the event will have a lot to do with the time it will take you to get past the pain and on with your life.
Let me share my story with you. Personally, I have gone through 4 major difficult periods in my life. Two were divorces, one was a major physical injury, and the other was being hit with a stroke. In all of these times my bouncing back was a prolonged process.
After being divorced, especially the second time, the primary means I had of supporting myself was taken away. Having been in ministry full-time ever since high school, because of the inflexibility of religious traditions, my means of income dissipated as almost no church would open their doors for me to minister to their congregations. As if divorce wasn’t enough of a setback, not being able to pursue my calling, at least in the fashion I was accustomed to, was even more emotionally and spiritually devastating.
Two months after Holly and I were married, I suffered an injury to my right shoulder at my place of employment, which over a period of 3 years required 7 surgeries in an attempt to repair the damage. While my shoulder is better it has never fully recovered and I have had to learn to work around it.
Soon after an extensive time of recovery and rehabilitation we moved to St Louis, MO to start a ministry and resource center for people in transition. We had many promises from prominent ministries and wealthy families to fund our ministry. Plus, both Holly and I had job offers that would have helped sustain us during the time of establishing the ministry and resource center. Unfortunately, every single person and ministry that promised to support us reneged on their promise and not a dime of support came in from them. (You should have heard their reasons; they didn’t make any sense whatsoever.)
On top of that, the company that we were to be working for went out of business and we were left without employment. Part of the deal with them was they were going to pay our housing for the first year as part of our compensation plan. So we ended up homeless, jobless, and almost penniless. We ended up living in a hotel as a family of 5 for over a year and a half, which is another story in itself. Holly was able to get a job as a server which at the time was our only means of financial support. This all took a tremendous toll on our family unit, our children, our emotions, our faith, and our physical health.
After finally getting out of the hotel, I was working at a restaurant in the area and one day I began to feel bad. I became very dizzy and nauseated. I went home thinking I had a touch of some virus going around. Little did I know how bad it really was. A couple of days later I suffered a major stroke that had me in intensive care for 8 days. It was touch and go during that time because the doctors weren’t sure I was going to make it. After 8 days I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, where I began the process of learning to walk again, use my left arm, and begin working my way back to a sort of normal life.
During the midst of these difficult times, one day a friend asked me, “How do you keep going with all that you have gone through? Why don’t you just give up?” I think that’s a fair question. There were many times I wanted to. But I didn’t and I won’t! The reason I have never quit is because a long time ago I learned the bouncebackability factor. God made us to be resilient. He never promised that we wouldn’t have difficult times, nor did he promise that he would instantly deliver us from our trouble. But, He did promise that He would be with us and would give us the ability and the strength to get through them.
Now, this is the key. It’s not whether life occasionally throws you into a tail-spin, it will, the key is how are you going to respond when it comes.
I have learned by experience, there are basically three ways to respond to difficulties when they arise. They are:
You can be reactive – You can be angry, bitter, frustrated, moody, blame God, or
You can be proactive – Take the bull by the horns so to speak. You can choose to learn from the situation, ask God for help, and take the steps necessary to overcome it, or
You can give up – You can throw in the towel and quit and let the trouble defeat you.
When something devastating happens to you, you need to allow yourself some time to grieve your loss, however, don’t allow yourself to get stuck there. Take some action. Join a support group, talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or your spiritual adviser. If necessary, seek professional help.
In the case of a job loss, perhaps you want to take some time to re-evaluate your career goals. You may even consider a change in fields. When you’re ready, you can begin networking and making new contacts. Attend social or church events. Call people you know. Do something!
In the case of health issues, learn what caused the problem to begin with. Begin to take better care of your body (it’s the only one you have!) eat right, get enough rest, and break any habit or lifestyle that may be unhealthy. Spend time exercising and getting physically fit. Arm yourself with the right information you need to maintain a healthy body.
One of the most important things to remember in high stress situations, is to not to allow yourself to become isolated. Isolation leads to total devastation. While spending some time alone is normal, even necessary, isolation can be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Get out and be with people as soon as possible. As a friend recently reminded me, “life is for the living.” It’s important to get back to your life. In time, the pain will pass.
Spend time daily in prayer, meditation and studying the promises of God in the Bible. Keep reminding yourself of the times in the past when you went through difficult times you thought you would never overcome, yet you did. Don’t allow your mind to be filled with discouragement, hopelessness, and despair. Stay focused on the solutions to your situation not the situation yourself. Make the decision to move forward not backward.
Believe me when I tell you, you are stronger than you think you are, you are more resilient that you are aware, and you are more determined than you ever dreamed. Set a goal, develop of a vision for your future, work towards it daily, bathe it in prayer, find someone to help you, be determined to bounce back, and you will!