“I thought I’d hit rock bottom, then I realised there was a trapdoor.”
So went my quote to a friend a while back when I was working through a tough situation.
We all go through crappy situations, and no enjoys them. I’m yet to meet someone who rejoices in the loss of a loved one, or revels in a stressful work situation. I do know people who thrive under pressure, but there’s a difference between “pressure” and “oh please for the love of all that is holy, let this be over”. Let me share a bit of my experience with tough times and crappy situations.
The most difficult year of my life was my 21st year. I had gone straight out of school and into Bible College. My intention all through my teenage years was to be involved in full time church ministry, and I had a moment of truth at the end of College when, at the age of 19, I turned down the chance to be a Youth Pastor at a large church in Auckland. I knew that I wasn’t ready for the challenge, and took up an internship at my local church instead. It turned out to be a good decision as my year lurched into disaster, and I ended up burning out horribly.
So I started my 21st year on earth alone, away from my family, and not knowing what the future would hold. I spent much of the year trying to get myself together, and slowly letting go of my dream of being in full time church ministry. The year was extremely difficult, and I had to fight depression, make complex decisions, and come face to face with the worst parts of my character. But even though that situation took a long time to come right, I eventually made it through. I hit rock bottom, fell through the trapdoor, and survived.
And that’s why I want to raise a toast to crappy situations: Because no matter how bad your situation may seem, you can survive. It took me a few years, but I picked myself up and got on with my life. I made a decision a long time ago to leave my regrets in the dust, where they belong. I’m a very different person today that I was ten years ago, when I failed in such a major way. Even though I still make mistakes regularly today, I have the perspective of the darkest time in my life, and the knowledge that I survived. So even though I still don’t like them, I’m grateful today for what crappy situations do: They give us the chance to meet ourselves head on – to stare down the worst situation and refuse to let it defeat us. They give us the chance to draw near to our loved ones, and to lean into our beliefs.
Because a crappy situation isn’t just an end in itself; it’s an opportunity to pick yourself up and get on with the job at hand. I could sit here and throw cliches at you like “This too, shall pass” and “The sun’ll come up tomorrow”, but I won’t – I just want to leave you (and myself) with a reminder that there are better days ahead. If I can survive my darkest hour, then you can too.
So ladies and gentlemen, please charge your glasses to the thing that bought us to this blog post today: crappy situations. May we never give up when faced with them, and may we have the grace to learn and better ourselves through them.