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A Good Word

I had the opportunity to attend a speech by Dan Clark at BYU this week. He talked about adversity.

Dan Clark lived through some. He wanted to be a professional athlete and attended college on a football scholarship. He was projected as a number one draft choice for the NFL Oakland Raiders but cracked his 7th vertebra during a tackling drill which ended his football career. Doctors projected a 10% chance of recovery, at best, but after several years he did recover and started speaking to high schools about his recovery. He spoke for Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, has written 21 books, has spoken to thousands of people around the world and has accomplished so much in the years following his “adversity”

Every life will have its share of adversity: affliction, bad break, bummer, burden, calamity, can of worms, catastrophe, challenge, crisis, crunch, difficulty, disaster, distress, downer, drag, evil eye, hard knock, hard time, hardship, hurting, ill fortune, jam, jinx, kiss of death, misery, misfortune, mishap, on the skids, pain in the neck, poison, problem, reverse, sorrow, suffering, the worst, tough luck, tragedy,  trial, trouble (or whatever you want to call it.)

But I’ve come to learn for myself it has a purpose.

“Adversity introduces us to ourselves,” Dan said. So true! You become acquainted with a lot of things during adversity–your true self is one of them. And I believe that if you choose to handle your adversity correctly and make the choice to overcome it, it will be a worthwhile introduction. Because I’ve seen it for myself and have seen it in others, as well, that “you can make setbacks, comebacks.”

“Comeback is a good word, man.” (Mickey Rourke)


The Speech Continued: ‘Y’ is Your Kids

I was overwhelmed with all of the questions I faced that most terrible of days in my life. I had the world–government agents, U.S. attorneys, family, friends, my husband–asking me, “WHAT are you going to do?” And I didn’t have a clue. I had no idea WHAT I was going to do.

In a moment, every single part of my life, my present, my past, and my future, had become a disaster. I was alone, thrust into the most terrifying darkness, and I didn’t know anything. Except that I was going to do what was best for my children. No matter what that meant for me or anyone else.

A counselor friend called that first day to try to help me. He asked me the question of the day (“What are you going to do?”) and I told him my answer: I didn’t know what I was going to do but I did know I was going to do what was best for my children. And he said something like this. “That is brilliant. I wish everyone in crisis would do that and we’d have a lot less messed up kids who grow up to become adults who fail.”

So that’s what I did.

Every decision was made with them in mind. Right or wrong those choices may have been, I really tried to put my children first and to do what I thought was best for them.

The results? All four of my children are living life fully, they’re enjoying successes at their various ages, and are remarkably happy and well adjusted. You would NEVER know the horrors they’ve lived through or the challenges they’ve overcome. One example: During my daughter’s senior year of high school as she was walking down the hall between classes, she happened to overhear the conversation of some girls in front of her. (They didn’t know she was behind them.) The girls were complaining, “Sarah Merriman is SO LUCKY. Everything good always happens to Sarah Merriman. We wish we could be Sarah!” If those girls only knew.

My daughter and I had a good laugh over that one!

“I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” (Audrey Hepburn)

Today’s Crisis Is Tomorrow’s Joke, I Hope

“I don’t know how to drive a car.” (Javier Bardem)

However, my daughter is learning to. She’ll be 16 in two months, so despite the fact she’s had her learner’s permit for almost a year, we’re feeling the pressure to get her as much experience behind the wheel before her birthday as we can. Easier said than done, though. Especially when I work full-time in another city.

So tonight we combined a driving lesson with a quick errand. Note to self: it would probably be wise to never attempt teenage daughter driving lessons after working all day and commuting both directions in traffic!

She drove. When I instructed her to turn right, she turned left–like she didn’t know her left from her right. (She really does, and she’s a smart girl, but I think she gets a little flustered behind the wheel.) One time when I instructed her to turn left, she hesitated so long the car behind her got in the turn lane, pulled up beside her and she nearly hit them when trying to get in the lane to turn.  After taking the LONG way to our destination, and experiencing her struggle to both use the turn signal and to change lanes, I admit it wasn’t my finest 20 minutes as a mother.

So by the time she ran a stop sign, cut off the car who actually had the right of way, forced them to slam on their brakes to avoid an accident, which apparently angered them because they tail-gated our car all the way down the street until they could whip around us, cut in front of us and slam on their brakes (to reinforce their anger at the way our driver was driving, I guess) I was completely out of patience.

I lectured her thoroughly (and loudly.)

Upon arriving home, my daughter went straight to her room, crying, committed to never getting behind the wheel of a car again. I make an impressive driving instructor, don’t you think? Or at the very least, an impressive mother. (Not.)

Ironically, tonight a friend told me that I have a very nice daughter and that I’m a good mother. Of all the days to tell me that! I had to confess how not true that is today. I can only hope that, “The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” (H.G. Wells)

Or that she’s at least speaking to me by then, so we can laugh about it!

I apologized to her several times tonight, but I’m thankful “tomorrow is another day,” a new opportunity to stand up and do things better as a mother and as a driving instructor–if my daughter will consent to drive again.

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” (H.G. Wells)

Just don’t run any stop signs.