August 2008: Challenges


“When you contend with challenges that test your strength, you move more surely towards the top”
“Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”

These quotes have encircled my life and those around me as of late.  Many of my close friends are going through challenging times: financial, relational, and health. Life is rarely a cake-walk, and I’d bet you have some significant challenges facing you right now too.

Some challenges we go looking for.  We may challenge our physical abilities by taking on a work-out regimen.  Or perhaps our intellect by going back to school.  We may challenge ourselves in our faith and ideals to evaluate our moral compass and to avoid becoming sedentary in our beliefs.  Challenges keep us sharp, make us passionately strive for improvement, and move us “more surely towards the top.”

Challenges can also come looking for us.  Case in point: Spencer, my friend who is battling cancer, is about to face his biggest challenge yet on his road back to a healthy life.  On September 5th, he will go to Stanford Hospital to undergo his final phase of his bone marrow transplant to remove the cancerous cells causing his multiple-myeloma.  The near lethal doses of chemo will come close to killing him, but then his body will come back stronger and cancer-free.  Up until Spencer’s challenge, I considered the “whatever doesn’t kill you” line a trifle way of finding the silver lining of a bad situation.  Spencer’s experience, however, has changed my perception of this quote.

For those of us outside the vortex of the challenge, they are words of encouragement.  For those of us facing the challenge, it is a mantra to help you get through the pain.  For those of us who conquer the challenge, this quote is a life-defining testimonial.

If you feel inclined, I urge you to send your thoughts, prayers, and emails to Spencer prior to and during his stay at Stanford.

Challenges are opportunities to learn, endure, and strengthen.  Just don’t allow them to kill your spirit or positive attitude along the way.

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