Handling the Challenges of Life

Posted on August 17, 2019

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Can stress and anxiety ever be good for you? Surely not! Stress is one of the killers in modern society. Anxiety is another symptom we all know about. We tend to call it worry. We all are afflicted at one time or another, or sometimes at a constant, destructive rate, by stress, worry, the challenges of life that seem to overcome us at times, for some of us all the time.

But wait, some people seem to thrive on stress! You’re crazy Clayton. Stay with history and Christianity and leave illnesses and medicine aside for the professionals.

Here’s my theory: winning coaches, especially in high stress games like intercollegiate basketball and football, strive on stress. What kills so many of us seems to be like some magic elixir for coaches, like Nick Saban and Mike Krzyzewski, or Coach K since few of us can either spell or pronounce his last name.  For you Tide fans Coach K has produced a record of success and victories in basketball at Duke that almost matches Alabama in football. Have their careers been a string of triumphant victories? You know the answer. Certainly not.

Have any of you ever learned much from triumph and victories? Let’s consider that along the way to success, the path is strewn with problems that run the gamut of the human experience from money to sex to alcohol and drugs and the list can easily be expanded by each of you.

You meet the adversity, in different forms like misfortunes, challenges, setbacks, poverty, big bills you weren’t counting on, opioids, persecution, the list can run on, if not forever, at least for many pages, and then take it on.

 I understand that some things happen to us beyond our control: war, natural disasters, diseases, all the way down to the shopper in front of you at the grocery checkout who forgot his checkbook, to the gal who cuts you off in traffic as she weaves into your lane while talking on her cell phone.

For the rest of my failings, my laziness, my anger, my frustrations, my wrong desires, in sum, the adversity or temptations that afflict me, I look into myself. If I made dull grades in college, who was to blame? If I get angry at someone or something and it eats away at me, who can I change? That someone or that thing? Or me?

You get the point. We’re not talking advanced psychiatry or psychology here with an apparent modern name for everything under the sun that afflicts us. A student now has ADD or some other cause to describe a classic case of being lazy and finding fault with everyone but herself. You can look up ADD.

Furthermore, many of us draw upon race, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, religion and dozens of other factors to explain one’s self, going from the simplest case of mischief to deeper symptoms leading to drug abuse, depression, and suicide. I am not diminishing the afflictions of the modern world. What I’m suggesting is that rather than starting with everything and everyone around you, look at yourself.

When Jesus was asked on several occasions how one may enter his “kingdom,” he invariably answered, you must be born again. It starts with you. He will always be there by the way to counsel and help you, but it starts with you, one step at a time. This is sometimes a hard lesson to master.

It takes time to be the perfect parent, for example. That, of course, is the ideal. Something we strive for. No one is perfect.

 But when you work at it, put the principles that you know are right such as inculcating personal responsibility, teaching accountability, putting the kids in front of God, and God in front of them, etc. the pat on the back will come from God. He will always take care of you, maybe not with the exact timing you desired, or the exact expectations, but when he does, you will know it.

A great sense of wellbeing may flood you some mornings as you wake up and the day welcomes you with light and joy. It usually doesn’t last long as something, or somebody, soon crops up at work or play, but don’t worry about them or it. Plow on ahead with what you know is God’s will. Try reading Scripture every morning. I can’t guarantee you wealth, happiness, winning the Lottery, and freedom from idiots on the highways forever, but something even more important: the security of knowing your Father will take care of you.

Great coaches learn from adversity and trials. You aren’t surprised are you that both Coach K and Coach Saban are practicing Christians, guarded by and guided by their faith in God?

Don’t let adversity and challenges get you down Nothing good comes from a life with no adversity and challenges. They all produce a better you.

Published as “Adversity, challenges will produce a better you,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday Aug. 11, 2019