CHARACTER AND ADVERSITY

  
Fall is by far my favorite time of year. As I write this column, I am sitting in a tree stand in the middle of a beautiful stretch of hardwoods in Meriwether Co., GA. It is a time for reflection, planning, and communing with God.

I also enjoy Fall because of college football. As a Dawg fan, I rarely miss watching the football games on Saturday afternoon.

During this Fall period, I have thought much about how adversity interacts with the character of a person.

Character and reputation are sometimes confused. I define character as simply what a man or woman is “made of.” In other words, how does a person behave when no one else is watching?

Reputation is what the general public perceives a person to be. Oftentimes, a person’s character is very different than their reputation.

It is interesting to look into the character of people we meet throughout life. Sometimes, it may take a long time to truly know the character of a man.
However, the one aspect of living that shines that brightest light on a person’s character is adversity.

Adversity comes in many forms. Very serious examples are victims of cancer or other life threatening diseases, parents who have lost a child, victims of violent crimes, or those struggling with addiction.

But, adversity can also come in the form of the betrayal of a friend, fighting a tough case in the courtroom, or struggling to keep a business alive.

I mentioned college football above because I have found some clear cut examples of how men on the gridiron handle adversity during the course of a season. The vast majority of teams will lose at least 1 game every year. Players get injured during the course of a season. Head coaches are always criticized no matter what they do.

After a tough loss or a serious injury, keep an eye on the teams and players involved. Historically, I have noticed 2 reactions to adversity in football.

You either give up or get up. A tough loss can motivate a team to focus and strive for victory the next week. It can also make a team lose focus or give up on their season.

The football example may not resonate with everyone. However, each of us faces adversity throughout our lifetimes. How do you react when the storm rolls in? How do you handle people, circumstances, and challenges that rock you to your very core? How do you handle situations where you have caused the harm yourself?

The answer is different for everyone. For me, I handle some types of adversity better than others. During the course of my life, I have been amazed to see a person so calm and collected when facing a massive legal or business challenge Yet, that same person self-destructs when relationships with parents, spouses, or other family members become strained.

Because I am human and have defects in my own character, I must turn to God for guidance during times of adversity (and other times as well). I have tried to handle a multitude of challenges on my own. The results were terrible failures.

Yet, with God leading the way, our character can shine during times of trials and adversity. He will not let us down if we trust in Him.

When life swiftly knocks you to the ground, make the choice to get up. Remember, character, like the swords and weapons used in battles many years ago, is forged by the fire of adversity.