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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Growing Through Tragedy

Good stories are about people encountering conflict and how dealing with it causes the character(s) to become more than they are. Usually stories take that to the extreme. I've often said if I had half of the bad things happen to me that Sisko does in Reality's Dawn, I'd be in a mental ward.

Sometimes, however, bad things do happen to us. Most of us have experienced them. If you haven't, you likely will at some point. The rain falls on the good and the bad. God hasn't promised to prevent tragedy from raining on His children, despite what some prosperity gospel preachers might say.

The real question when tragedy hits isn't "Why me?" It's "Who will I become because of this?"

Like my fictional characters, how will facing painful situations help me to grow as a person? If fiction, especially Christian fiction teaches us anything, it should teach us that attitude.

Earlier this year I revealed that I discovered my wife of 29 years had been having an affair, back in May 11, 2011 upon the release of our book, Healing Infidelity: How to Build a Vibrant Marriage After an Affair. I'd consider that trauma the worst I've had so far in my short life. The betrayal left a wake of destruction for both of us, which after two years, we still deal with.

While there are plenty of negatives from it, God has also made me, made us, better people for having gone through it. Our recovery has made us and our marriage stronger than it has ever been.

This year I'm faced with a new betrayal. My body. I've been officially diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. It has already cut my typing speed in half. As the years go by, I can expect it to get worse and worse, barring a medical breakthrough. Currently there is no cure, nor do they know what causes it in most cases. It is currently the second largest neurological disorder in the world, so I have plenty of company.

I debated telling very many about this. I'm not doing so to get sympathy. Prayers would be appreciated, though. Nor is it a "woe is me" lament. I mention these things for two main reasons.

One, because these events, bad as they are, have become part of my identity. If you want to know me, those events along with many others make me who I am today. I'm not going to introduce myself to people as a guy with Parkinson's, like some gay people tend to do. But it is part of my history. Barring God removing this "thorn," it will be my future.

Two, to show that God can take what was meant for evil and bring good out of it. God can use this disease to make me a better person, closer to Him. He can use it toward my salvation.

How? I probably don't know all the ways He'll do that. But I've already got one plan in mind. I want to write a fiction book using a person with Parkinson's as the main character and donate the proceeds to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The point is the big crisis we face in life can make us or break us. That is the point of most of our stories. It is the point of our lives. That is how we grow.

What crisis in your life has God used for your good?

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