Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Overcoming Adversity: Against Any Odds


Whether adversity is trying to overcome the temptation to eat dessert or climbing a mountain of debt to pay back all that's due, we all face adversity from time to time. Sometimes it is a deeply personal challenge, sometimes relational, but always it is an opportunity -- a necessity -- to make us stronger.

Why must I experience adversity to be a stronger person emotionally, physically or spiritually? Why can't I lift 100 kilos without practice or laugh at taunting the first time it happens? Or why do I not have answers to life's mysteries without prayer and deep contemplation?

The truth is we all have limitations. But I believe we carry within us ability, strength and purpose that, when we face and overcome the hurdles in our way, we can achieve all that we were created to achieve. I also believe that without the obstacles, we cannot attain our goals. It is through exerting the effort, fighting against opposing forces that trains our muscles, our character, our intelligence to master what needs to be mastered in order to achieve what we were born to achieve. Einstein said that genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration; without challenge, effort and conflict we will never reach our capacity for learning, power or fulfillment.

Adversity is the challenge we come up against when life would otherwise be effortless. It is opposition to our success. It is the necessary muscle-builder that enables us to discover our limitations and figure out how to press beyond those limitations in order to solve the problem, fix the conflict or make the new invention.

Kids go to camp to do endurance courses to test their physical strength and mental determination. Celebrities go on "Survivor" to test their mettle. Why do some people choose adversity? Isn't there enough ordained for us? I think those who seek challenge recognize that we must overcome adversity in order to be all we were created to be.

When adversity comes, we have a well from which to draw -- an inner emotional and spiritual resource that offers us the courage and fortitude to overcome the adversity. Through being true to ourselves, we can face anything! That's a bold statement, I know, but I believe it wholeheartedly. Sometimes being true to that inner self is costly. Sometimes other people may object to our achievements or to how we think or behave, and their objection feels like rejection - and that hurts! But to deny who we are, to hide our 'light' under a bushel is far more costly. It is self-rejection. When we are true to ourselves we are exposed, vulnerable to criticism. And yet, when we are true to ourselves we can rest assured we are in sync with who we were formed and made to be; for me that means I can sleep at night free from shame or condemnation. Living true to who I was created to be yields the priceless reward of freedom; the truth does indeed set us free!

Author Max Lucado has written a children's book called You Are Special that touches on this very concept. In this story, the Wemmicks are wooden creations that hand out either dots or stars to one another, depending on their failures or successes. But one Wemmick, Lucia, has neither dots nor stars, because she does not have concern for what others think of her. She only regards what her creator thinks of her as important, so dots or stars handed out don't stick to her.

If we can be like Lucia, confident in the love we have from our creator and true to ourselves, then we can be free, unencumbered by fear of failure or of what others may think of us. Being able to face adversity with courage and integrity enables us to overcome. And it is through overcoming adversity that we become strong enough to achieve what we were born for. Who we are really only surfaces in adversity - when necessity provokes us to act according to what we really believe is most important, rather than what will be popular or easy.

I was once in a car accident when I was a teenager. I was sitting in the back seat of the car with my boyfriend. We both could see the accident coming, but I was the 'quicker thinker' I guess, because I pulled down his head and covered his with my back... no harm came to us. Later, he apologized for not thinking to protect me. I wasn't bothered and simply said, "I could see the accident coming and I just thought of what to do to protect us." It was not a big deal at the time, nor is it still. But the incident taught me something about myself that has been re-enforced again and again: I'm good in a crisis.

That affirmation is something I may never have recognized in myself without that little crisis moment, but it gave me confidence for future emergencies, and each built upon the previous to instill in me a belief in myself. Now, believing I'm good in a crisis and having evidence to back up my belief has enabled me to help others in critical situations.

What are your greatest fears? What emotional, social or spiritual challenges have you had to climb? Within each of us is a well of strength and when we draw on that well, we discover more about the person we were born to be.

 Let us draw: the well is deep and the water is fresh!

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