I came to realize many applications for this advice outside of making sure nothing was stopping me from having my work done in the office. In life there are many, many difficult and unfair circumstances to deal with. Good health can fail, jobs and wealth can disappear, friends and family can disappoint us, or tragically be lost. However, no matter what the situation, it is never the case that there is nothing we can do to resiliently fight back. Even if you have been the victim of a devastating life changing event like me, that doesn't mean you have to continue to be.
Easier said than done. In my case my injury almost eight years ago has had serious, toxic effects on my life. Without the full range of independence others enjoy, I've often been down because of loneliness or lack of opportunity. There have been many days where I've struggled to go through the motions of acting like a cheerful, strong individual while fighting against a literal mass of darkness that threatens to weigh anchor and drown me in despair. My life is hard. BUT, I haven't always done something about it. My options have been limited, but there have been times when I've resigned myself to aa depressing focus on what I can't do rather than fighting for what I can.
These emotions are natural, but in my opinion, one of the most successful traps Satan ensnares us in. Dwelling on the negative and victimizing yourself is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the hope that the gospel of Christ espouses. Wallowing in the many flavors of despair that life so easily brings us can result in paralysis worse than that caused by the hardest of trampoline gym floors. Don't fall prey to this inability to act. Don't be a victim!
Again, easier said than done. But here are three principles I've seen work in my life that I'm continuing to attempt to apply.
1. It's quite easy to set limits on our possibilities. We can define ourselves in certain ways, and then live life inside those boxes. Maybe we believe ourselves not intelligent enough to pursue education, or not attractive enough for love.
After my injury, I faced the reality of living almost entirely without the ability to physically manipulate my surroundings. To this day, I'm essentially limited to weak control over my shoulders and arms. I accomplish my daily tasks using that little strength and adaptive technology like touchscreens and voice control. Despite all this, and to the credit of myself and the army of assistance around me, I made it through graduate school, found fulfilling employment and even own a house now (well, half a house). On this front, I've done quite well in the don't-be-a-victim arena.
2. I'll freely admit that I'm secretly terrified of failure. So much so that I've let it get the best of me and victimize aspects of my life. The worst example of this is my experience with driving. I've had a van that's been outfitted with adaptive controls for my specific needs for years, but until recently made very little progress in actually using it. My attempts to learn to use it went poorly and I became scared that despite the effort and expense that had gone into the van, I would fail. So I stopped trying, evaded questions about progress, and despondently shut the possibility out of my life. Until recently. I decided to stop playing the victim, made some minor tweaks to the driving setup, and viola! Success. Currently that van is in the shop for some tweaks, but I'm optimistic that later this year I'll be able to operate it independently. I'm pleased with this progress, but also can't help but regret the years of playing the victim due to fear of failure that surely withheld opportunities the ability to drive would have allowed for.
3. There are plenty of smaller-stakes circumstances that can victimize us. The most common that I've noticed is timidity: a reticence to offend people or disrupt established procedures to the point that people consign themselves to becoming victims of circumstance. For example, on a recent flight, I noticed my wheelchair being loaded into the plane in a manner that I was positive was going to cause damage. "But what can I do?" I thought. "I'm stuck here in my seat, and the action is happening out on the tarmac. There are lots of people that I don't know with busy agendas I don't want to disrupt, and I would be embarrassed if I became a public spectacle." So I did nothing. And my wheelchair got damaged. Nothing too serious, but it could have been avoided had I not being too timid to get the attention of a flight attendant and demand that my problem be addressed.
“It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.”