“Do not pray for success, ask for faithfulness” Mother Teresa
Slowly, I did get better. I had a good doctor. Medicine kicked in and my brain calmed down. The fog lifted. Yet, depression, especially repeat offenders like mine, leaves grooves in one’s psyche with scars that never go away. I developed long-lasting neurological problems from the medicines that pulled me out of the sewer of sadness.
Eventually I was able to read again. Over time I was able to drive on the highway again. Anyone doing hard time on Long Island knows half your time is spent on the Long Island Expressway. Yet real recovery from this depression took several years. I worked at several transitional ministries. Little by little, I regained self-confidence.
During this time we discovered the pastorate to which Forrest was called to was not the blessing we had hoped it would be. It was a devastating turn of events. The school district we thought was so stellar also brought us grief. Our children suffered. It was as if we had this nice riff going, then a “chord of evil” jumps in and jams everything up, not once, but over and over. This certainly leaves us to wonder: What the hell was wrong with Long Island? What the hell was wrong with us? Did we make a mistake? It felt as if we’ve just got off a five-year stint on a tilt-a-whirl ride, with Vortex and the Tower of Terror thrown in. You know how you stagger around for a minute or two, deeply breathing, hoping you don’t upchuck your lunch? It’s been a little bit like that around our household.
Instead of taking a negative approach, I decided to believe we were now enrolled in the the Ph.D. Practicum level 500: “Life: Getting Kicked in the Ass and Getting Back Up Again” (KA-UP Seminar for short.). I find Barry to be an appropriate adjunct lecturer for this seminar. Barry shared in his autobiography, Sweet life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise, that in 1980, after selling 50 million records and grueling concert appearances, mismanagement of his fortune left him with only $11,000 in the bank. The night he got the news he barely slept. He had strange dreams. He was back in Manhattan, at his old place, doing his laundry. Riding the subway. Strolling down Madison Avenue looking at shop windows. Hanging on the old stoop with his friends. He felt happy. Barry writes:
“Losing all my money was probably a good thing for me. Really. It forced me to look at my life and see what things were important to me and what things weren’t. It was as if God were telling me, once again, not to get used to all the material things I had accumulated. Success, real success, is measured by your heart, not your bankbook.” Pp. 218-219
It took three years, but Barry rebounded, largely due to the values instilled to work hard and keep moving forward.
Failure and setbacks are a part of life. Depending how we react to them, they can help prepare us for success. It is what you do with it that counts. You roll up your sleeves and you start over. At least that’s what I take away from instructor Barry.
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