Like change, adversity is a constant in life. One principle I learned from LIFE founders Orrin Woodward and George Guzzardo early on is how to respond properly to adversity. Adversity can sometimes be categorized as bad luck (even though I don’t believe in luck), misfortune or hard knocks. We have pain attached to losing people we love, relationships, money, illness, depression, general feelings of unfulfillment and unexpected catastrophe. For example: About two weeks ago I hit a deer with my car late at night and totaled it. If that happened 4-5 years ago my response would have been much different than it was two weeks ago. While it was frightening in the moment, there was little to no stress associated with the situation. Adversity is not something we ever want but it is always something we should expect as humans. Knowing that adversity is a constant in life, we should talk about how to respond properly so as to not fall into the ‘woes me syndrome’ and throw ourselves a pity party and invite all the negative Nancy’s to join us.
I recently read a story titled The Old Mule and the Well and I thought it was the perfect example for handling adversity properly. Read on:
A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’ -or-whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened …and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back … a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he should shake it off and step up! This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!
It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him…all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. If we face our problems, respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness or self-pity. The adversities that come along to ‘bury us’ usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless us.
Orrin Woodward wrote a blog titled Don’t survive, Thrive in Adversity and it too describes a similar parable about handling adversity:
“You may never look at a CUP OF COFFEE the same way again. A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose…” (click to read more)
Adversity can cause a change in attitude and emotion. While it’s okay to ‘have a bad day’ once in a while, we shouldn’t let those changes in behavior affect our relationships or change who we are. Many times this happens and one bad day leads to a constant cycle of negativity. George Guzzardo gives us great insight on how society feeds our negativity but explains how the-life-business will positively affect how we handle adversity and negativity in our daily lives:
“People in the upcoming LIFE business will make an intentional decision to change negative inputs in their life. I made this decision a while ago. While I am not cured of negative thoughts, I am healing...” (click to read more)
The bible also teaches a lot about handling adversity. While there are many books in the bible to pull from, I encourage you to read these particular passages of scripture to inspire you during the difficult times:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
Adversity will happen at the most inconvenient times (or at least that’s how it appears in the moment). But the goal is the learn how to grow in our reactions during those times. Orrin Woodward and George Guzzardo have been solid objects in the face of adversity. While I know their struggles are similar to ours, the way they respond to adversity it much different than ours. However, through continual growth in the-life-business and by growing in our relationship with Christ, we can learn how to respond properly no matter what difficulties we face.