How you view setbacks will determine how far you go.
Did you notice I didn’t say how you handled setbacks, but rather how you viewed them?
And how you view setbacks is decided by the first thing you decide to say about them.
Example: my father is a positive person, ergo he dealt with nearly everything I can recall positively, including negative things. There were very few situations that didn’t get turned around eventually for him, and no circumstances that beat him because he knew the only one who can beat you is you.
“He must have had a good life!?”
Haha. He does now, but it didn’t start that way, though he would decidedly disagree with me. Judge for yourself…
His dad was sick on the farm and he was basically running it by the time he was fourteen and working like a slave so his younger brothers and sisters wouldn’t starve.
I asked him one time “Dad, did you ever miss having an actual childhood?”
His response was how he decided to view that particular setback:
“Naw, I liked working!” with the trademark grin.
This is where we part ways with what is being loudly preached and largely confused today: that you need to be happy to be happy. What we really mean is that the stars need to align and all the pain leave my life so I can be carefree which = happiness.
If happiness is defined like this my dad wouldn’t have had a happy day in his life. His cares were many. There was never a day his stars aligned perfectly.
But he had joy. The Bible says “count it all joy when you fall into various trials”. How is this even possible? Could it be that we have been granted power over our circumstance, over the influence of things outside our control, and over our own emotions? This could change everything for us.
When I was eighteen I remember a moment about a month into my first job out of high school (I had worked from the time I was fourteen of course because THAT WAS NORMAL BACK THEN), I went to work one morning in the trades and said to myself “I could be doing this for the next sixty years!”
Then I had a bad day.
It’s funny that eventually I went into Electrical and always said that I loved my trade, but the younger you are, the less you understand what that means.
If you’re twenty you probably think that I loved it because I worked with amazing, nice people, that the job itself was clean and warm, that it was conflict free and every moment I found happiness in the work itself?
No, I loved my career because I decided to.
“Well, I’m more honest than you Corey! If I’m not having a good day I tell people the truth!” Actually what comes out of your mouth often reveals that your heart needs to mature a little. And if speaking every emotion or immediately negative thing is both honest and admirable, every two year old is to be praised!
I’m a thinker and a winner. The only way to win was to tell myself that if I loved the product of my career, which was providing for my wife and little girls and the ability to be generous to others, then I needed to decide to love my career itself, even when I worked with the selfish (and possibly insane), even when the mornings were cold and dark, even when everything around me wasn’t fun.
Every dirty, spider infested trailer I crawled under I said “This will make for an amazing story at the shop tomorrow!”
Every crazy, smelly tradesperson who went out of their way to make me miserable failed miserably because the only one who has the power to make me miserable is…
Love is a decision, not a random emotion. I decided that I loved it when it was hard and that made me a certain type of valuable to my company, because not many people like hard. It also is a huge asset to my marriage.
How many people lose their marriages because they forget that love is a decision you make, not an emotion that decides how you live based on how you perceive someone is treating you in a bad month, or a bad year, or a bad decade!
I decided that the only one who could break my promises was ME, and I’m not a promise breaker.
And I kept speaking right. It changed my mind, and my mind changed my heart.
When work ran out I spoke right and got a better job. Again and again.
When our marriage was broken I kept speaking right and thinking right. I gave everything and then gave more because I believe in the power of deciding. Eventually it changed our hearts.
When I don’t know how to father girls because they’re emotional psychos sometimes, I speak good things over them, hold their feet to the fire, and tell them they’re going to do the right thing because they’re better than that. I show them that emotions are not gods.
When I hear “Give up!” Or “It’s hopeless!” I smile slowly, my eyes light up in genuine amusement, I laugh a little at the secret joke that unless it’s planning on killing me it can’t win,
Then I open my mouth and decide to speak the right thing. Not what I see in front of me,
But what could be.
Corey lives in Airdrie with his wife Erin and four daughters and pastors Venue Church (Bert Church Theatre Sundays 10:30 am). You can watch his new series Too Busy NOT To… at venuechurch.ca or listen to his podcast in iTunes.