Virtual Voices

Facing the sucker-punch day

Faith & Inspiration

It's been one of those sucker-punch days, at the end of a week of getting kicked in the pants. I jumped into a struggling organization a year ago to try and help stop the bleeding and get it on the right path again. It seemed, at the time, like it would be hard work, to be sure, but work with clear direction, like digging a ditch. You may sweat a lot, but at least you know what a ditch is supposed to look like.

Of course, it hasn't been that simple. And, of course, there's pain for everyone around when you parachute into a place and start changing everything at once. And, of course, I know all that because I've done it before, but this job has all kinds of wrinkles to it, wrinkles that leave me wondering sometimes-in the middle of the night, mostly, though sometimes I'm overwhelmed after a day of said sucker-punches-if I can do it, or if I'm instead going to make things worse for everyone else.

It's a frightening feeling and an exhilarating feeling to know that you may succeed or you may fail catastrophically, and to genuinely not know which outcome will prevail. There's safety in a big corporation (though less and less), but it's rare that you get this kind of excitement.

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But golly, sometimes there's too much excitement. Add to that the personal stress of travel and financial strains and legal pressures, and I'm starting to get that compressed feeling, the feeling one of those self-help experts might be inclined to turn back on me with some kind of faux wisdom about pressure making diamonds. Pressure makes a diamond or two, to be sure, but mostly it just crushes stuff. I mean, have you seen what they do to cars in junkyards?

The pressure can be crushing, and so in the midst of it I think on two things. The first, quite simply, is that I know what hell on earth is like, because I've been there. Nurse your dying child and then bury her, and an imbalanced budget is suddenly just not that intimidating.

The second thing I remember is that all of us have within our power, at any moment, the ability to turn our eyes on the hurts or on the blessings. Now, I am one of the best hurt-counters in the business. I can not only tell you just how much water is missing from the half-empty glass, I can offer you odds on who took it, and give you half a dozen reasons why I know he's out to get me. Suffice to say that surveying blessings instead of wounds is not something that comes naturally to me.

But what a difference it makes, when I remember to do it. So after this sucker-punch of a day, the kind that in the boxing ring brings you to your knees, I sit thinking on the blessings: like my four healthy sons, safe with their mother while I am away; the fact that I have a job; that I can pray any time of the day without fear of being locked up or shot; my friends, more than I can count, who would take me in if I had nothing; and my God, who is so loving that His heart calls out to the likes of me.

When I write them down, these blessings, I run out of paper. My cup runneth over. Why fear, then, a few sucker punches? The world is a hard and sometimes unforgiving place. But love has won. Love has won.

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