When the going gets tough...

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A high character might be produced, I suppose, by continued prosperity, but it has very seldom been the case. Adversity, however it may appear to be our foe, is our true friend; and, after a little acquaintance with it, we receive it as a precious thing -- the prophecy of a coming joy. It should be no ambition of ours to traverse a path without a thorn or stone.-- Charles H. Spurgeon

Thought for the day-and one I find to be quite true. After all, a pearl is produced by an irritation in the oyster.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), July 28, 2000


Adversity teaches us to appreciate the normal, every day things in life. It also makes us realize the insignificance of the little daily irritations.

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), July 28, 2000.

Yeah, I'd like to hear Mr. Spurgeon's comments after walking in *my* shoes for a coupla' years. I can assure you he won't so willingly embrace adversity as a "joy".

It's all a matter of degree, wouldn't you say?

-- LunaC (GetReal@PIA.com), July 28, 2000.

Link to The Best CH Spurgeon Site On The Net

-- Butt Nugget (catsbutt@umailme.com), July 28, 2000.

I like it FS. One can't appreciate the highs without first experiencing the lows.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), July 28, 2000.

***It should be no ambition of ours to traverse a path without a thorn or stone***

Thorns and stones maybe, but not boulders.

-- cin (cin@cinn.cin), July 28, 2000.

FS, Your thread has come at the exact moment that I have found myself pondering these types of issues. Thank you for giving me a "positive" spin to think about with the issues which I am currently dealing with. Have you been reading my mind? :) I shall have lots of time to consider my options very carefully over the next two weeks, and I'll keep the words above in mind. Don't get into any trouble while I'm gone.


-- (Sheeple@Greener.Pastures), July 28, 2000.


I know from whence you come, as we have talked about your "shoes". I know this is a tough one, but I believe(And as I always say today's belief can be tomorrow's bullshit)that at some level our soul's are in agreement with everything that is happening to us. I found that idea to be outrageuos when I first heard it, but upon much reflection I today think it is true. You know we are with you.


You know I have been reading your mind for at leat a week now : ). I will see you when you get back.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), July 28, 2000.

FS - a simple "Thank You"


Keep your chin up. Mr. Spurgeon will someday have his adversity, we all do. While my current delima is nothing to compare to yours, I see where I *may* become a better person from this. You on the other hand, are maintaining a positive outlook which is what is needed. I'll do more research when some issues have settled.


-- (Sheeple@Greener.Pastures), July 28, 2000.

One of my favorite prayers:

"Heavenly Father, chisel Thou my life according to Thy design."

Yes, it hurts temporarily when the boulders go flyin' off. But the spiritual growth exceeds any incidental pain associated with the sculpting. Just depends on the focus of the individual. Where do you wish to be tomorrow? How much progress - or how little - do you wish to attain this day, this week, month, year, incarnation?

I keep threatening to design a T-shirt with the above prayer on the front. The back would read: "Caution: flying debris". Guess you had to be there.

Best to you Sheeple. We'll keep you in our hearts.

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), July 28, 2000.

Sheeple, Luna - Mr. Spurgeon died many years ago.

-- Butt Nugget (catsbutt@umailme.com), July 28, 2000.


-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), July 28, 2000.

FS and Sheeple - I appreciate youse guys hanging in there with me. (You too Bingo, Aunt Bee, Eve, Anita and Oxy)

Now don't get me wrong...I little adversity provides a counterbalance so the good times can be appreciated appropriately, a little *more* adversity on top of that helps make you wiser, stronger, and clearer, but when the adversity is heaped so high that it endeavors to crush you, break your back or kill you so there's no moving beyond it, it somewhat defeats the point of the exercise. I suspect Mr. Spurgeon never got anything more than medium-strength adversity and never got into the heavy-duty graduate stuff or he wouldn't have been so glib with his philosophy.

In the past I've always considered adversity to be a puzzle begging to to be solved, a maze to be transitted, a challenge of the highest honor, but there comes a point where Overkill just deadens the senses.

-- LunaC (WheresTheMiddle@Road.com), July 28, 2000.

Well then, I should be finding a HELL of a lot of pearls soon...

Howdy all, I'm in Chicago til at least Thursday or Friday. Our Mercury Sable stationwagon blew the head gasket and 2 cylinders (?) - the estimate is ~ $2600 and almost a week repair time. Going to the NIA National Convention in Minneapolis is definitely out - major bummer.

Say a prayer for my family, please, and pass the Pepto.

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), July 28, 2000.

Good one FS. Thanks!

sifting thru Bible class notes...

He cannot heal, who has not suffered much,

For only suffering - suffering understands.

They'll never come for healing at our touch

Until they see the scars upon our hands.

God wants our hearts pure, and that's why it's necessary for us to suffer. It is necessary to refine our faith. How much must we suffer? answer - How much does your faith need refined? - maybe you're asking for it. Through the purifying you become useable and valuble......When trial strikes us - if you allow the trial to soften your soul, to humble you, to remind you of your frailty, if we keep in mind that the devil could not touch Job beyond that which God allowed him - then we can understand that whatever trial and however difficult, it's still in God's hands and therefore allowed for a purpose. Your trial has been sent to you, courtesy of the grace of God. That trial is to let you take all you've learned and make it real. As long as it's just been learned, it isn't real. Truth needs to be utilized.....When suffering, God wants us to reach back with one hand and lay hold of the cross. With the other hand reach forward and lay hold of what you have to look forward to. Keep one hand on the cross and one hand on the crown. Keep in mind the price that was paid and the glory that is coming-there's more than even that. The trial can't be compared to the glory. Be farsighted.....no matter how bad, it could always be worse....Pain is your best friend - if you know what to do with it.....praying for you all.

-- (bygrace@thru.faith), July 28, 2000.


Here is hoping that the rest of your journey (or what you have left) goes without any hitches. Too bad you weren't stuck in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, as I found myself "stranded" there for a week. Hoping the car gets fixed cheaper than they say, and that there is a silver lining to the cloud.


-- (Sheeple@Greener.Pastures), July 28, 2000.

I don't really consider myself "worthy" to enter this discussion with youse guys (good one, Luna), because I've been blessed most of my life with good health and not many crises...at least not on the level that some of you have had to endure.

I'd just like to add that sometimes, psychological crises (which have been what I've experienced) can be, at times, a lot worse than physical. At least with a physical crisis, there's a manifestation; something concrete that you can attribute something to (that was really bad grammar; but I think you know what I mean). But with a psychological crisis, most of the time you don't know where it's coming from, so the "solution" always seems to be just beyond your reach. (I realize that it's the same with some physical crises, but I'm just trying to illustrate a point.)

Luna, you said: "In the past I've always considered adversity to be a puzzle begging to to be solved, a maze to be transitted, a challenge of the highest honor, but there comes a point where Overkill just deadens the senses." And cin mentioned "boulders"; an excellent description.

Couldn't agree more. There are times when you want to throw up your hands and say "screw it all". But then something just about always happens to toss that thought aside; perhaps, as Sheeple put it, "the silver lining" suddenly appears. Could be in almost any form -- a word, a thought, a picture, a deed; whatever. Maybe it hasn't happened to you yet, but I believe it will.

Hang in there. You seem like a very strong person.

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), July 28, 2000.


There is nothing I can say to ease the graduate type of adversity you have, but dig this-

Out of your adversity, even if you are never relieved in any permanent manner, a wonderful "pearl" has been found. You were honest with us about your plight, we formed a healing group and an intense energy has been created. You have found friends you would otherwise not have found, and our prayer circle is widening to include others.

Wow! Your adversity has helped create a truly wonderful thing. Thank you.

-- FutureShock (gray@mater.think), July 28, 2000.

After all, the blister is caused by an irritation of the skin.

-- jumpoffjoe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), July 28, 2000.

"Another day on this side of the grass..." My mom is fond of saying "Never get old." I'm fond of replying, "I like that idea better than the alternative."

Contrast works for me. My daughter has a boyfriend who wouldn't have any luck at all if he didn't have bad luck. Whenever I feel like everything's going wrong, I call and ask, "What's new with Andy this week?" I think this is why I enjoy watching movies. I saw one a few days ago wherein a single father had a kid dying in the hospital. In order to save the kid, he needed a VERY expensive vaccine. [The setting was in the future.] To obtain the money for the vaccine, the father signed a contract donating his own body. He had one year before they would capture him [using the tracking devices they'd placed on his body] to obtain the fruits of their investment. Time was short, and the guy rushed to the hospital with the money to learn that his son was dead. The movie went on from there, but can you imagine? It kindof reminded me of that old story about the wife who sold her hair to buy her husband a fob for his watch, not knowing that the husband had sold his watch to buy a tierra for his wife's hair, only with 1000 times the magnitude.

Take heart, Deb. My car once broke down in Georgia with the same sortof problem. I thought I'd sit down and relax while they evaluated the damages and chose a grassy knoll. By the time I realized there was a fireant mound somewhere beneath me they'd invaded my socks and my slacks. I was busy trying to shake one off my hand before I did the "I'm on fire" dance. I laugh now to think of how I must have looked to anyone paying attention. Do major repair expenses only come when we don't have the money, or is that the only time we notice?

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 28, 2000.

Good thread,

what doesn't kill you, will change you.

-- Will (righthere@home.now), July 28, 2000.

Sheeple, hang in there, it could be worse. You could have been born a Russian citizen with almost no hope of car repair ( much less fuel for heat). Or you could have been born in one of those third world nations where they sell no bras (how embarrasing). Hang Tight, I believe we are given no more than we can endure. Though I have questioned this, more than once. Thank the Heavens, I have had a place to sleep, all these years. Though I did sleep in my car in my younger years, through lack of money. Mr./Ms. Bingo, I Thank you for your words of wisdom about "the flying debris, from the chiseling of my soul". You may never know, what your words meant.

-- Gotta (standup@this.com), July 29, 2000.

(Deepening his voice) I'm a he, "Gotta". And you're welcome. I encourage each of the lurkers out there to post your thoughts at least once in great while. One never knows the impact a stray thought may have upon another.

You people are really cool to hang with!

For those of you interested in joining our merry little band of prayer group members, come on over to Bok's chatroom Thursday evening. Festivities begin round about 8:30 pm EDT and go on until just before the stroke of 11:00 pm EDT, often times picking up again after 11:15 pm EDT. Doesn't matter how you do it (prayer, that is). And it is never too late in life to start. Anyone interested may also drop me an e-mail at the addy below.


-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), July 29, 2000.

Seems to be a paradox. Yes, adversity strengthens our character, informs our judgements, enhances our wisdom. Without adversity we would remain as children. But with too much adversity, all but the most sainted would crack. How many of us would be better persons for having survived a holacaust or for having seen brutal battle? If that were true, then every generation should wage a character building war.

It is natural to want ease and comfort for ourselves and for our families. Parents typically strive to "improve" their children's circumstances over their own. Yet we don't want to overdo it and cause ourselves or our children to grow soft, lazy, weak and naive. Complicating matters further, each person is born with different physical, emotional and intellectual qualities that will cause each person to respond differently to the same adversities.

In my mind, there is an optimum amount of adversity (unique to each individual) that will produce the strongest person that that individual can be. Tricky business indeed.

Here is some canned wisdom.


-- Lars (lars@indy.net), July 30, 2000.

FS, thank you for posting something on an issue thats so important to all of us.

Luna C, my heart goes out to you in your struggles; Sheeple and Deb M., I hope youll hang in there. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

The following is a little something I may have posted before, but I wanted to share this with yall -- by psychologist Nathaniel Branden. By my posting this , please understand that I really have no intention of trivializing your problems, which I know are very real, and many times overwhelming and devastating. Personally, I've experienced periods of deep clinical depression that were triggered by some overwhelming situations I found myself in; things got so bad that reading something like this during those times might not have had much of an effect on me, as it may not on those of you who are facing enormous problems.

But maybe somehow it will help a little.

Reflections on Happiness

By Nathaniel Branden

During the past three years, I have found myself thinking a good deal about the subject of happiness, and about the idea of not merely desiring happiness but making it a conscious purpose. This was an idea that first hit me as I approached my sixty-first birthday, and I would like to share some of the important things I've learned. My most important teacher in this area has been my wife of fifteen years, Devers, who is the most consistently happy human being I have ever known. What I identified about how she achieves this is part of the story I wish to tell.

There is a tendency for most people to explain feelings of happiness or unhappiness in terms of the external events of their lives. They explain happiness by pointing to the positives; they explain unhappiness by pointing to the negatives. The implication is that events determine whether or not they are happy. I have always suspected that our own attitudes have far more to do with how happy we are than any external circumstances. Today, research supports this view.

Take a person who is basically disposed to be happy, meaning that he is happy a significantly greater amount of the time than he is unhappy, and let some misfortune befall him  the loss of a job, or a marriage, or being hit by some physical disability  and for some period of time he will suffer. But check with him a few weeks or months or a year later (depending on the severity of the problem) and he will be happy again.

In contrast, take a person who is basically disposed to be unhappy, who is unhappy a significantly greater amount of the time than he is happy, and let something wonderful happen to him  getting a promotion, inheriting a lot of money, falling in love  and for a while he will be happy. But check with him a little later down the line and very likely he will be unhappy again.

Research also tells us that the best predictors of a person's disposition to be happy are (1) self-esteem and (2) the belief that we ourselves, rather than external forces, are the most significant shapers of our destiny.

I have always thought of myself as essentially a happy person and have managed to be happy under some fairly difficult circumstances. However, I have known periods of struggle and suffering, as we all have, and at times I felt there was some error I was making and that not all of the pain was necessary.

I began to think more about Devers' psychology. When I met her I thought that I had never met anyone for whom joy was a more natural state. Yet her life had not been easy. Widowed at twenty-four, she was left to raise two small children with very little money and no one to help her. When we met, she had been single for almost sixteen years, had achieved success in a number of jobs, and never spoke of past struggles with any hint of self-pity. I saw her hit by disappointing experiences from time to time, saw her sad or muted for a few hours (rarely longer than a day), then saw her bounce back to her natural state of joy without any evidence of denial or repression. Her happiness was real  and larger than any adversity.

When I would ask her about her resilience, she would say, "I'm committed to being happy." And she added, "That takes self- discipline." She almost never went to sleep at night without taking time to review everything good in her life; those were typically her last thoughts of the day. I thought that this was important.

Then I thought of something I had noticed about myself. And that was, as I sometimes joked, that with every decade my childhood kept getting happier. If you asked me at twenty or at sixty to describe my early years, the report would not have been different about the key facts, but the emphasis would have been different. At twenty, the negatives in my childhood were foreground in my mind the the positives were background; at sixty, the reverse was true. As I grew older, my perspective and sense of what was important about those early years changed.

The more I studied and thought about other happy people I encountered, the more clear it became that happy people process their experiences so that, as quickly as possible, positives are held in the foreground of consciousness and negatives are consigned to the background. This is essential to understanding them.

But then I was stopped by this thought: None of these ideas are entirely new to me; at some level they are familiar; why have I not implemented them better throughout my life? Once asked, I knew the answer: Somehow long ago, I had decided that if I did not spend a significant amount of time focused on the negatives in my life, the disappointments and setbacks, I was being evasive, irresponsible toward reality, not serious enough about my life. Expressing this thought in words for the first time, I saw how absurd it was. It would be reasonable only if there were corrective actions I could be taking that I was avoiding taking. But if I was taking every action possible, then a further focus on negatives had no merit whatsoever.

If something is wrong, the question to ask is: Is there an action I can take to improve or correct the situation? If there is, take it. If there isn't, I do my best not to torment myself about what is beyond my control. Admittedly this last is not always easy.

The past two-and-half years of my life have been the most consistently happy I have ever known, even though it has been a time of considerable external stress. I find that I deal with problems more quickly than in the past and I recover more quickly from disappointments.

I can summarize the key idea here as follows: Begin each day with two questions: What's good in my life?  and What needs to be done? The first question keeps us focused on the positives. The second reminds us that our life and well-being are our own responsibility.

The world has rarely treated happiness as a state worthy of serious respect. And yet, if we see someone who, in spite of life's adversities, is happy a good deal of the time, we should recognize that we are looking at a spiritual achievement  and one worth aspiring to.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), July 30, 2000.

Sheeple, Anita and Eve (and anyone else I missed),

Thanks for your well-wishes, I really appreciate them. We were really blessed that my Grandparents lived nearby, so we were able to stay with them for a few days instead of having to spend more $$$ on a hotel room. We were also blessed by being able to get a rental car on Sat. (yesterday) and drive home - though the wagon is still in Chicago, waiting to be fixed...

I have to call a Mercury dealership on Mon. though - I've heard that some Mercury Sables had a recall for the head gasket/engine, so there might be a way to recoup the vacation money. (Keeping my fingers crossed.)

I did learn to be greatful for the many blessings that I didn't realize I had, such as a car running well.

FS - Thanks for the *very* appropriate topic, it was quite timely.

Anita - I'm sure glad I didn't have to deal with the fire ants, just a crazy aunt was all on this trip. ;-)

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), July 30, 2000.

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