I was very excited recently to sit down with an old friend and political mentor, Bob, for a breakfast at the Cook’s Kettle in Springfield. We have been friends for a while, but the way life has it we get so busy and forget to have the occasional meeting just to visit. I was glad to have the opportunity to do this with Bob.
As Bob and I were preparing to pray over his breakfast platter and my biscuits and gravy, Jim, the operator of the restaurant, came up and gave me a hug. With sincerity Jim told me he has been praying for me and was glad to see me for the first time since I was released from custody in May. He and Bob also know each other, so the three of us briefly visited.
During the quick discussion, Jim explained that he understood my difficulties I have had in life and also of his pride to know me and see me picking myself back up. Jim mentioned an analogy that resonated: While we may fall down, we must get back up; we may have a limp for the rest of our life because of the fall, but that doesn’t keep us from continuing on in life.
After the quick discussion Jim excused himself to allow me and Bob to continue our visit.
Bob and I talked about the analogy Jim gave. While I appreciated the kind words, it was an interesting way Jim looked at life. While the analogy can be valid in many people’s minds, for me it is not.
I told Bob exactly that and went on to explain.
Sure, a man may fall and rise again. That fall may keep him from running full speed again be it due to injury, lack of confidence, or any other number of reasons. But what if the fall itself started long ago, and what many perceived as the fall was simply the inevitable loss of balance that the outside actually sees?
You see, my fall didn’t happen in an altercation on Thanksgiving of 2011; it didn’t happen on New Years’ Day of 2012; and it didn’t happen when I was given the punishment for those two situations and my admitted guilt for my actions. My fall was a process that happened long before those events.
Through many losses of loved ones, my experience in Iraq, and other life-altering experiences, I went through many things in life that I may have overcome, but never dealt with. It festered. It simmered. It laid wait. It eventually came to a head. Much like the athlete who is administered cortisone shots to avoid the reality of his injury and that injury eventually catches up to him, I numbed myself through running my body ragged, and by self-medicating. Eventually the running and medicating didn’t work any longer, I broke, and I was forced to deal with the fall and injury I had ignored for so very long.
However, the limp in my walk was already there. It was after that I began to fix the injury and made plans to run again – run without pain. Father with love. Husband with sincerity. Be a friend with humility. And above all else, serve my Heavenly Father with a meek heart. That is the plan. That is the marathon of life I want to run.
It isn’t that we always have to see the misfortunes in life as something we can’t recover from. Rather, I see them as learning experiences, building blocks, and obstacles to not only overcome but deal with. For if life is an experience – a test of will, then the harder the obstacle is the more opportunity we have to build, to learn, to overcome and deal with… to gain wisdom and be better because of it.
That is the choice we have – to be the victim or the victor.
The victor decides there doesn’t have to be a limp, not if we consider life experiences spiritual strength training.