Facing Adversity: When S*%t Happens
Posted on August 26 2019
Pet peeves. We’ve all got them and I suppose the older I get, the more I develop. It won’t be that much longer and I’ll be yelling at kids to stay off my lawn which of course would classify me as nuts because I live in Southern California where my lawn is dry and dusty. But I’ve got a new one now that I can attribute to my current life situation and those motivational quotes on social media.
For those of you that know me well, you know that I’ve been going through a rough patch. Life has had its way with me in the past 6 months and in the midst of it, I have to sit back and wonder what I did wrong or how I could have affected a different outcome. I’ve always been one to take charge of my own story; one of those guys that says “If it’s going to get done right, I’ll just do it myself.” But things haven’t really been going right. Maybe I’m wrong but in this case, my rough patch appears to be a bit outside of my control.
Perhaps due to this, Instagram has been getting under my skin. There are a few reoccurring phrases that even I may have been guilty of using from time to time but now they’re really jumping out at me and setting me off. One that popped up that garnered several shares and thousands of likes says “Success or failure. It’s on you.” The second one I see frequently is “Accountability: Nothing in your life is outside of your control. It’s on you.” Well I’d like you to stand in the face of a cancer patient facing his or her fifth and last round of chemo and say that.
Urbanization and the safety, security and abundance offered within America has created a shift in mindset for a lot of people, creating a belief system that isn’t always accurate. I grew up in rural Iowa amidst fields of corn where many nights I would watch from our hilltop patio the lights of farm equipment moving back and forth through dark fields, over and over, for hours on end. If anyone knows how to work, it’s a farmer. From sun up and beyond sun down, these men and women are the epitome of #grinding. They know their business, they know that there are no days off until well after harvest, and it doesn’t matter the weather; they’re in it, suffering through the heat, soaking in the rain.
Back then, farmers struggled financially and their annual salary was completely dependent on that year’s harvest. They lived like many of us, paycheck to paycheck. But theirs only came once a year. Sometimes, the weather would turn on them and a giant hail storm would pass through within an hour, shredding their fields, destroying their crops. Or a tornado would decide through cruel fate that it was going to touch down in their field, literally spewing the farmer’s livelihood dozens of miles in every direction. Bunkered down in their underground shelters, they sat in silence, listening to their lives change outside those doors, the wife watching her children’s faces staring up at the rattling doors who are only thinking of the tornado and that moment, the farmer staring at his worn hands, both wondering how they would feed their families belly’s over the next year with no income. I want you, Instagram Influencer, to walk into that bunker in that moment and tell them to take accountability; that their crops failure was not outside their control. Let me know how it goes.
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Some of you out there need to hear this. If you’re in one of those situations right now where life has put you in a seemingly untenable situation, beyond your control, it’s not your fault. I will say it again, it’s not your fault. Life sometimes happens. Just control what you can control and fight your way back. The farmers that I saw go through these things always bounced back and the tornado that tore up their fields turned their soil, making it even more nutrient rich for the next harvest. You can come back from whatever is going on in your life and you will be stronger for it.
For those of you in a great position, standing on top of your mountain, good for you. I seriously applaud you. But two things: First, do not look down on the man crumpled at the bottom of the mountain and tell him that he should have held on tighter. An avalanche may have just come through his path and not your own. Simply encourage him to address his wounds and keep climbing. Second, prepare for the wind that will inevitably come at the top of that mountain and attempt to knock you down. You don’t know the day or the hour when it may come but it will come. So do not gloat from there or look down on those still climbing. You don’t know their situation and their climb may be ten times as difficult as your own. Lend a hand so that when your own storm comes, they will help you.
Looking down on those lights from our hilltop porch as a young boy, I recall one day naively asking my dad why there were so many rows of lights. He said, “that’s not just the farmer out there. He’s only got so much time to get those crops harvested and stored. Those are all the farmers neighbors. Tomorrow all those same lights will be in someone else’s field.” We’re all in this life together. We have to work together. Fight together. Live together. We only survive this life as a tribe. Reach out to a brother today.