Be Courageous and Never Shrink From Adversity

I was asked, what advice would you give your younger self. So, in your mind, transport yourself to a younger age, and then give that younger aged self, your best advice. Of course, the advice I am going to give my younger self is going to be with the expectation that he is going to face the same childhood I did. I now have the advantage of the wisdom I have gained from having come through certain adversities that to be able to do so with the best possible outcome would require what?

As you enter the ‘chow hall’ in the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary at the top of the wall directly above the food steam tables, are engraved the words “THOU HAST BEEN REDUCED TO A LOW ESTATE” The words are chilling as you contemplate their meaning on your miserable life. You have just been sentenced to years in this prison and you are going to see that saying every day, 3 times a day, for the next 10, 15, 20 years whatever amount of time you have. You learn to bow your head just enough or cast a gaze across the chow hall as if looking for someone so as not to see those words again.

I learned to adroitly divert my eyes in quick time. I did not need a reminder to what my present condition was. Approximately a year after entering Terre Haute (January, 1973) I acquired a condition that left my kidneys 90% infected and as treatment would indicate I would be transferred to Springfield, Mo to the U. S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. No doubt this was an exciting momentous occasion as I would be returning to the same prison where not only did I meet Mary, but also Jesus. It was very much a religious blessing in my mind. Before I transferred however, I again found myself in the ‘chow hall’ observing those same words “Thou hast been….” and relieved that I would never see them again, I hoped. But I noticed something that in all the year I had been eating in that same chow hall THAT, the saying did not end at the corner of the front wall but continued along the side wall, the part I never looked at. the saying continued “BUT AS GOLD IS REFINED IN FIRE, SO ARE BRAVE MEN BORN OF ADVERSITY.” Instead of cowering in my “my woe is me” state, I could have been encouraged to be BRAVE and COURAGEOUS. But I allowed my tunnel vision to keep me from seeing the larger hope.

So what would I tell my younger self, I would tell him to be courageous and never shrink from adversity. The End

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