Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Way I See it, You've Got Three Choices

Imagine the poor souls who become disabled by a serious medical illness.  Or someone who loses a spouse or child.  Or someone who is unjustly sent to prison for life.  The list could go on.

And imagine there is no way to undo the situation.  No way to go back and prevent it, or to go on living as if the circumstances of your life haven't been permanently changed.

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I listed above some extreme examples, but many of us have or will deal with some life-altering personal challenges.  A surgeon has to quit doing surgery after losing some fingers to frostbite climbing Everest.  A married couple can no longer have marital relations because of some kind of unusual, medical complication.  One day you wake up and your vision is so bad you can no longer drive a car--at least legally anyway.

Many of us will have some kind of mutilating experience in their life, or know someone first-hand who has.  And a choice has to be made.

The way I see, you've got one of three choices:

1.  Jump off a bridge.  I don't see any upside here.  Either you go from a state of seeming misery in this life to an infinitely worse and permanent state (hell), or if you'd be lucky to make it to purgatory, the suffering would be instantaneously worse.  

2. Give up on life and sit around feeling sorry for yourself.   Become a drunk, druggie, self-loathing, life hating, morbidly depressed dropout on life.   I can see one upside here.  In the moment, there might be some relief from escaping reality.  But given enough time--days or weeks would do the trick--you'd have sunk into a deeper state of misery.  Life would be even worse.

3.  Which brings us to door #3:  maximize your life the best you can despite your handicap or debilitating cross.  If you lose your legs, learn to walk and run using artificial prostheses.   If you lose a spouse to death, mourn and then move on, finding new or renewed relationships.

In the end, no matter how awful the situation may seem, if we care about God and our life, we don't have any other choice than #3.  That's the raw fact of life.

This post is a bit of hyperbole.  Many fortunately will not face tragic change in their life.  Not sure the % in that category, but reflecting on the three above choices, I can see how they'd apply to any trial or cross you're facing, whether it is small or large, temporary or permanent.

In the end we can a) completely give up on a situation, b) retreat into self-pity and a kind of self-indulgence that really hurts more than relieves, or c) grab that bull by the horns, overcome the setback, refuse to throw in the towel, and choose to live fully and as blessedly as possible this little life God has given us.

Our Faith tells me that's the only way to be happy in the next.  And ironically, common sense tells me that's actually the only way to be happy in this life too.


  1. I recently wrote a post along a similar track:

    It is hard for we Catholics to remember that every hair on our head has been counted and to not lose our earthly perspective of that objective truth. We want happiness in this life, as well as the next. To our seeming dismay, Our Lord only promises us one or the other, and leaves us to make the choice. Being mortal, we like to choose the easy paths too often...

    You have an excellent blog, Sir!

    1. Thanks Dave. I read your recent health challenges. Get well soon.

  2. Starting about eight or nine years ago things happened to me that made it impossible for me to lead a normal life. I have tried to take door number three. My faith has helped me avoid despair or constantly feeling sorry for myself. If you truly believe in heaven and hope to get there it doesn't really make sense to get so upset over personal problems, even serious ones. I mean even if one were to suffer horrible abuse for twenty years, but afterwards were rewarded with an eternity in heaven, who would complain about that? If you do not have faith and do not believe in God or heaven, then I understand why one would fall into despair.

    1. Yes thank God for the gift of faith. Without it I too may have fallen into despair plenty of times before. Suffering is a mystery, but we know the ultimate end of it all, for those who are faithful.

    2. PS I'd like to chat more. Didn't see your email. Can you email me sometime? My email is

  3. I think option number three should be a lesson taught to every child simply, regardless of their state. Then, should something befall them, they will have instilled in them the needed faith and rationale to cope.