in spite of

I was watching Adele on the Grammys last night, immensely enjoying each time she won another award. I was really excited for her, as though somehow we were good friends. I thought, "Yeah, good job, you! Well deserved!"

As she alluded to in one of her acceptance speeches, somehow a crap relationship had turned into something far beyond what she could have imagined - a gut-wrenchingly beautiful song, a well-done album, and now two (additional) fistfuls of awards. 

I've been mulling that over since then. I have been inspired by the fact that, in spite of getting her heart broken, Adele moved on, and even used it as fuel for moving forward, turning it into something better in the process. 

Then I thought about the phrase, "in spite of." That is a pretty powerful phrase. I think it points to the beginnings of greatness, on many levels. It could be something simple, such as, "In spite of everything within me trying to tell me to stay in bed, I got up and went to work today." It points to moving forward, as many people have chosen to do in their lives.  

The reality is, no one's life is crap-proof. I have yet to meet someone who has not had to tackle pain, opposition, heartache, struggle, barriers, obstacles, fears, and the like, in some shape or form. It is easy when we are going through tough seasons to end up camping out there, not moving on after having taken a healthy amount of time to process/mourn/struggle through/cry/pray/however you deal with things like that (which, that amount of time can vary greatly from person to person, by the way). It is easy to take whatever happened and make it into an excuse, or let it define us in such a way that it ends up limiting who we allow ourselves to become.

I did this at one point after my dad died. I can't remember now exactly how long after, I know it was at least a year after, probably longer. I realized I had developed this mental habit of thinking, "Well, since my dad died, I can't/shouldn't/won't _____________." It is kind of hard to explain now, but there were all these aspects of life I had disengaged from while I was in the deeper times of grieving for my dad, appropriately enough, since you cannot live life as usual when you are gripped by grief. Somehow, even though time had passed and the pain had subsided enough for me to be able to function fully in those areas again, I was stuck in the mindset that I still could not participate, or should not be responsible for returning to those things. This led me to pass  more than a few months kind of living selfishly, basically pleasing myself and filling my life with empty activities instead of trying to move forward into the next season of my life (or, at the very least, even trying to figure out what might be coming next). It was very subconscious, but it really held me back. Thankfully, with God's help I realized this and was able to stop doing this to myself.

In other words, in spite of my dad's death, and in spite of the fact that no one ever completely gets over the completely heartbreaking pain of losing someone, I moved forward with my life. 

I forget this just as easily as the next person, though. My family has been going through a tough couple of months, in what has been another tough year (brief summary: Mom diagnosed with cancer last Christmas, Mom subsequently treated for cancer, Mom has major surgery this summer and declared cancer-free, Mom finally mostly recovers from surgery, Mom goes into hospital the week before Christmas this year and ends up getting 3 stents in her heart). This was the third of three really hard years we've gone though, all of which started when my dad died. Even though we have made it this far, and personally I've come through things amazingly well (thank you God), I still get into this mindset sometimes where I give myself a pass from life just because things are hard. However, this type of thinking gets me nowhere, and poorly reflects just how faithful God has been through absolutely everything. Also, this does not help when I am here at my Mom's, because it makes it hard to encourage and support my family when I am indifferent to living my own life and refuse to make the best of circumstances. 

At any rate, I have just been thinking of how my next "in spite of" will read. Maybe it will read, "In spite of a crappy couple of years, I went on to land a job I loved." I'm all for starting small, too, as in, "In spite of my fat rolls crying out in protest, I started working out again and became healthy again." It even works in a more abstract way - "In spite of the many plans that haven't worked out, I decided to still hope that there is something better in store." That last one has been one of the hardest, by the way. 

Perhaps there is something you need to do, "in spite of ____________." Perhaps it won't end up happening on a stage somewhere, and perhaps it won't win you a Grammy, but it will, most likely, mean something good, I do believe. 

*Adele pic courtesy of billboard.com

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