Sunday, February 5, 2012

This week's Pep Talk: "Where Resilience Rules"

Devoted Pep Talk readers know mentor Bill McCartney is often referenced when speaking of overcoming adversity and challenging situations. I love the way the former national champion football coach describes it: “We get knocked down. It’s okay to lie there and bleed a bit. But eventually, we must rise, dust ourselves off, and continue the march.” Amen to that brother. I would call it, “turning life’s lemons - heck with lemonade - into sweet and savory margaritas.”

I witnessed a good example of transforming life’s lemons into margaritas recently on a trip to St. Louis, Missouri for a friend’s wedding. This man has been a good buddy since our college days at Mizzou. The former roommate has always had a “can do” attitude toward life - home, work and elsewhere.

Like most of us, that optimistic spirit has been tested more than once. Most recently, about five years ago, when a 24-year marriage, that produced three beautiful children, crashed and burned. The successful business owner was, as Coach Mac would say, “knocked down and bled a little bit” but found the resolve to dust himself off and continue the journey in ways honoring, nurturing and adding value to himself, his children and now, new bride and her three children.

I’m sure most of us can relate, right? We’ve had those moments leaving us wondering, “What the heck is going on around here?” The question becomes, “What are we going to do with unexpected, and unwanted, twists and turns life tends to throw our way at the most inopportune times?”

Those thoughts ran through my cranium as, along with darling girlfriend, we celebrated and rejoiced a marriage and second chances. As the band played into the night and the mood grew more festive, my mind suddenly shifted to someone else I had spent time with earlier on this day. A friendly woman sitting next to me on the flight from Denver into the state of Missouri’s largest city. “I am trying to find my way” offered this gentle soul upon descent into Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The southeast Missouri resident is dealing with the recent and sudden death of a beloved husband of more than 40 years.

The mother of four and grandma of ten stays busy with community activities and spoiling grandkids. But there’s a wound to the heart and she wonders if it will ever heal. Our conversation ended with prayer for her courage and strength for the days ahead.
In the best-selling book of wisdom ever written, in Jeremiah, we’re encouraged to remember God has a plan for us; to prosper, not harm us; to give us hope and a future. While grooving to the music, with arm around the love of my life, another prayer surfaced for my airplane buddy: “May you someday emerge from this painful moment with hope for a bright future like Becky and Tim have from their challenging times.”

Challenging times. We all have them. Stay strong. It’s okay to lie down and bled a little but don’t lose hope. Rise and march on. I know, easy to talk about, far more difficult to execute. Do it anyway. Forge a future where resilience - readily recovering from disappointment - rules. While there is no guarantee for success against whatever ails us, resilience sure seems to improve our chances. An absolutely gorgeous bride and handsome groom tearing up the dance floor is proof of that truth. I hope it’s your truth this week too.

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