Life is hard. Even when life is really, really good, it’s hard. I’ve always been drawn to warriors who have lived hard lives because they’re the ones who will tell it like it is. They’ll tell you that the circumstances they’ve faced have beaten them down but that it’s a choice to stand back up. They’ll own it because to deny it would make them a victim and they refuse to be victims. Many of them will look you in the eye and insist that their tragedies were the best things that ever happened to them. They’ll tell you that they’re actually grateful for the hardship they’ve experienced.
Because if you’ve faced adversity and let it change you for the better:
You know the difference between major and minor catastrophes. When your worst nightmare has happened, you really mean it when you say, “I’ve seen worse.” It makes it a lot easier to put adversity into perspective when you know how bad things can really get. Life can still be frustrating but you know what real problems are.
You realize which risks are worth taking. We can’t go through life playing it safe all the time, even if we want to avoid being hurt again. Adversity can make us more willing to take risks and not settle for anything less than what feels true and right. Quitting a job to do something you love doesn’t feel as scary when you truly understand how short life is. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is terrifying but it can’t be worse than what you’ve already gone through.
You become more sensitive to tiny miracles and moments of grace. People are paying it forward, reaching out and joining hands all around if you pay attention. When you’ve been low, you see the beauty in a smile or the kind gesture of a stranger. You look at kindness in a different light and see that connection is The Light that makes darkness bearable. You want to do your part to be The Light.
You’re more compassionate, empathetic and less judgmental. Not all of the time because you’re still human but since you know what it’s like to struggle, you recognize it in others and you don’t turn away from their pain. You give second chances because you’ve been given second chances. What you’ve been through makes you want to do something for someone else because you’ve been in their shoes. You look for and see reasons for behavior that others may not see and you know how powerful it is to hear, “I’ve been there too.”
You realize you know nothing so you’re open to everything. Whether you have faith in God or think it’s all random and arbitrary, you accept the great mystery of life. Anything can happen at any time and instead of letting that terrify you, it frees you to live unencumbered by the pointless fear of the unknown. Life becomes an adventure because you know that you have the resiliency to face hardship. If you’d never suffered adversity, you wouldn’t know that about yourself.
I hope this helps you see that through your adversity and struggles, you can become a gift to the world. When you’ve failed and failed often, when you’ve been hurt and survived, you have choices. Like Andy says in Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”