Sunday, November 6, 2016

What I wish I knew when I was younger . . . On fighting through failure: Lazarus rise

Rembrandt's Sea of Galilee:
The disciples thought they were going to die at sea
Dear Lyle, Alex, Christian, and others,

On my days away, in far and distant lands, in a place remembered only by the sun, sea, and sands, I met a runaway youth, who was a nice enough lad but was living his life wastefully. It made think about the lessons I wished I knew when I was younger.

Here's the second letter on what I wish I knew when I was younger. The first letter was on practicing integrity. You can read it here: On Practice Integrity

The second lesson that I wish I knew was that you must fight back and defeat failure at all costs, and the only way to do so is to have more love and life inside of you than what's overtaking you.

After I graduated college, I was lost in an emotional and spiritual, violent storm, a very dark and tragic one indeed. The external forces that were taking me down, which included not having future plans or being able to go to the law school I wanted to, was more a result of my broken character and flawed values. I just didn't realize it, until the perfect storm came into my life. (Apparently, the Swedes say there's something about a perfect storm; it's supposed to be a force so violent that it can claim your life but tempered enough for one to survive it.)

I often kept blaming the depression and unhappiness that ensued, on what I couldn't accomplish, which primarily was getting into prestigious graduate school. You know you're doing this, when you say, I'd only be happier, if I had X, or Y, or Z.

At that time, for some reason, at that point in my life, I just couldn't achieve the score I needed to get in. I had everything else.

It sent me into a depression and a self-talk, where I felt like I wasn't good enough. It made me feel like all the years of my education, all the hard work I put in, all the sacrifices I made, and all the time I spent, was in vain. (That's the reason I said in my first letter, I tell you, I wish I put more time into the relationships around me.)

How did I cope?

I was runaway kid when I was young. And runaway kids tend to become runaway graduates, and runaway graduates tend to become runaway adults. I ran away to Australia and New Zealand, and my parents both thought staying there for six months would do me some good.

Little did any of us know that a six week stint would turn into three and a half years, a permanent job, a masters degree, and receiving permanent residency, but that's all beside the point.

I had to stay away for that long. When the eye of the storm came into my life, which was a brief period where I could think straight and have a sober mind, I felt like the Spirit of God, gently asked me a question:

"Now that you've tried living your life your way, are you willing to try to living life in a godly way? Are you willing to die to everything you've dreamed of, worked for, and surrender your will to live the way I want you to live?

"If you do, I'll give you back new dreams, a new life, and a new vision."

The answer was a resounding, No - at least at first.

I wanted to be important. I wanted prestige. I wanted lots of money. I wanted to be recognized. I didn't want to live my days in New Zealand as a nobody, (which incidentally didn't happen; it was an amazing time there).

But after wrestling with the question for enough time, I think I died to what I wanted and what others wanted from me.

That voice was right: I had tried my way long enough, and I failed, absolutely, totally, and completely. Just as Apostle Paul in the Scriptures was blinded and led out of the desert by the spirit of God, I too had to trust the same thing was going to happen to me. And, it really did!

I suppose this message applies to anyone who has experienced a failed dream or a midlife crisis or is experiencing one right now.

One of two things, will happen. You'll realize that you're never going to achieve what you thought you could. Or, you'll realize you've achieved it, and it didn't bring you the satisfaction that you thought it would.

So, why am I writing this letter, and what's the point of all this?

Well, the first reason I'm writing this letter, is I remember trying to do research on what to do, when you fail like you realize you weren't going to be who you thought you were. Essentially, I was looking for anything that had to do with rebounding or coping with failure. And, all the literature was horrible or cheesy and useless.

In short: It sucked. That's why I'm writing this.

The point is this, if you failed, to the point where it shatters your soul, you probably were on the path of selfish ambition, as I was. Such a path is dangerous. No wonder why the Scriptures say: "Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not."

Then, realize, that it's time to start over and die to one's self, as mentioned in the last letter. Keep in mind, dying is a painful process. Then, you'll have to practice new values, to live again.

While going through all this, something that helped me keep perspective was the thought: "There is hope in the future. You have time to come back from all this. Just start now."

I think this applies, even to those who are retiring or retired. There's a second life to live.

Finally, it's important to remember that there is a power, a great, ancient and mysterious one that laid the foundation of the earth and universe. And if you believe in it, you're sure to defeat failure.

And that power is this: The dead comes back to life. (For the Christian and Jewish Scriptures refer to it, over and over again.) What has died, can never die.

For the war is in you and in me. Love, life, and light must conquer self, death, and the darkness inside to prevail. I don't always win this battle, but it's important to keep trying.

I hope that helps.

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