Well, it’s nearly the end of 2013. The end of a year always prompts me to look back and reflect on the highlights and the lowlights of that year, so here goes.
To sum it up, 2013 has been an interesting year. And, by interesting, I mean challenging.
I started the year unemployed (over 3 months), with no fixed address, and no personal life to speak of. I’m finishing the year with a brand new dream job, a great place to live with a great housemate, and my personal life is better than it’s ever been.The journey in between was often uncertain, often changing, and often obstacle ridden. I moved twice, had four jobs, and struggled with financial challenges. In one of my jobs, my personal safety was in question every single shift. Knives, fists, feet, and even Bibles (I’m serious!) were used as weapons. I was kicked, punched, swore at, bitten, and slapped more times that I can count. The fact that I now have a sane and safe desk job in an office with regular hours, vacation and sick time, benefits, and interesting work with a well-respected company is amazing to me. I especially appreciate it because of all the obstacles I had to overcome to get to this point.
2013 is ending better for me than any year in well over a decade but I have no doubt that, at least to some degree, obstacles will still be part of 2014. That’s because life is an obstacle course.
I’m sure you’ve noticed.
For me, the most important thing to remember is that obstacles are not an end… unless you let them be. I am determined that obstacles will never get the best of me. That especially includes the main challenge I’m carrying over to 2014, which is debt.
The truth is you can always, always, always find a way to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. I’m not saying it’s easy or that it’s always immediate or that you won’t feel overwhelmed or even momentarily defeated in the process. I’m just saying it’s possible. Trust me, I know.
Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Two things are extremely important in that statement. The first is steadfastness or standing firm. And the second is doing something… anything. Even if it feels like you’re taking two steps back for every step forward, it’s crucial to keep moving because simply waiting for something to change rarely changes anything, if ever.
There have been times that ‘doing’ hasn’t seemed to bring results after an extended period of time so I’ve had to stop and re-evaluate if I need to change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it or where I’m doing it or even who I’m doing it with. There is a time to press forward and keep doing the same thing, and there is a time to change direction and start doing something else. If you’re not sure which it should be, talk to someone you trust. Wise counsel can bring perspective, encouragement, and moral support.
I also pray. I’ve seen prayer change things many times, and in many ways, some of them miraculous. Prayer also changes me and I cannot overstate the benefits of that.
I can’t say I’ve always enjoyed the obstacles I’ve encountered but I can say they’ve all had a purpose. Some have made sense in retrospect while others quite frankly still remain a mystery. But, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I have grown and changed from obstacles in ways that I never would have without them, and that’s quite possibly the greatest purpose of all.
I can honestly say I’ve appreciated the high points in my life all the more for having overcome the low points. No strength without strain. No pain, no gain. They’re true.
I think it’s fitting to end this post with a quote from the late Nelson Mandela, who knew more than most what it means to overcome obstacles. He should be an inspiration to us all…