Thursday, February 23, 2006

Life's difficulties: How do you react?

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
-Charles Swindoll

Eternal optimists.

I see them as some of the most inspiring and uplifting people.

They’ll tell you things like “The glass is half-full, not half-empty.” Or “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

If going through a struggle in life, they’ll grin and bear it. They might even tell you “This too shall pass.”

They look for the light at the end of the tunnel, the diamond in the rough.

They accept the fact that the bigger the rose, the harder the thorn.

If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.

All this rhetoric sounds nice. But when these so-called eternal optimists are in crisis mode, do their actions really speak louder than their words?

I recall a story I read in the Star Tribune about six years ago. Columnist Doug Grow interviewed Dave & Alicia Jacobsen, a couple who was in the process of building their dream home.

The Jacobsens had purchased a plot of land where construction would begin on their palatial estate. The hole had been dug and the foundation had been formed when the Jacobsens received a phone call one day. This call was placed by someone claiming to own the land the Jacobsens were building on. Yes, the Jacobsens were sold a piece of land. But they were shown the wrong 10-acre lot from what they actually purchased. This was a mistake clearly made by their realty company. However, the company would not assume the costs of reversing what construction had been done on someone else’s land.

The Jacobsens looked to be saddled with the expense of filling the hole. Then they had to begin the construction process all over again on the piece of land they were actually sold. As it happened, building of their home would be delayed while the attorneys battled it out.

Dave’s reaction? “I guess I should feel lucky we didn't get the whole house built before we found out we were on the wrong land.”

How about Argentine golfer Robert De Vicenzo?

After winning a golf tournament, he walked back to the clubhouse, no doubt to relish his accomplishment.

Afterwards, he was met in the near vacant parking lot by a young lady who seemed distraught. She appealed to De Vicenzo for help, as she was out of a job, her child was severely ill and she was unable to afford the pending medical bills. The heartbroken golfer signed over his tournament-winning check to the woman in hopes it could somewhat alleviate her painful dilemma.

After hearing what De Vicenzo had done, a tournament official approached him a week later for verification of the story. The golfer confirmed that he indeed helped the distressed woman in her time of need by signing over his prize money. The exasperated official informed Robert that his contribution was in vain. The woman who had appealed to his sympathies did not even have children. Yes, it appeared Robert De Vicenzo was the victim of a scam.

Upon hearing this stunning turn of events, De Vicenzo asked, “You mean there’s not a sick baby at all?”

“That’s right”, said the tourney official.

Robert’s reaction? “You have just given me the best news I’ve heard all year long!”

These are just two great examples of optimism trumping the negative aura that accompanies life’s injustices.

I get the feeling that the Jacobsens and Robert De Vicenzo somehow knew that everything would turn out fine.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
-Galatians 6:9

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