The man I am today has been influenced and changed by the sum of my experiences. Certainly, God designed me a certain way, and I an uniquely made, but my experiences have formed and shaped me in certain specific ways.
At times, joyful, odd and unusual experiences have contributed to my sense of humor and my warped way of viewing the world.
At other times, suffering and sadness have formed in me a tenderness and compassion. Hope deferred has made my heart sick, and heart-sickness has contributed to my earnest desire to know God more fully, and to hear His heart more clearly.
While much of my life has been filled with pain, stress, worry, frustration and other things many might view as negative, I don't see it that way at all... I have come to believe it's much less about what happens to you, and more about what you choose to do with it. I have found that I can turn to anger and bitterness, but it ultimately brings more pain and suffering - if not to me, then certainly to those in my life... or I can turn to a quiet, inward and still place, where I find grace, compassion and patience from the Lord, which helps me to endure and overcome my circumstances.
I am not a person of regret. I generally make decisions, live with the outcomes and go on, never looking back. Lately, however, I have been very reflective in my thinking. Not that I regret, but I wonder how I got to where I am and who I am today. There are many things about my circumstances that are difficult and painful, and they are not of my own doing. I did not choose this, but I find myself evaluating how I got here and how I feel about it. In some ways, I am uneasy with my circumstances. I have good times and bad times, and I deal with them the best I can. But I have come to some conclusions...
First, through my experiences, I have come to understand and know myself. This has been a precious gift into my life. Second, I have come to know God, which is beyond measure and worth. Third, I have come to understand what is important to me, and why. And fourth, I have come to realize that the first three realizations are a direct result of the path I have walked.
So, although I have endured the pain, often nearly overwhelming me, and although I have hurt more deeply than I though possible and still survive, and although I have been so deeply disappointed by hope deferred, and although I have felt abandoned and discarded, judged and rejected, and although I have despised much of my experience - I must acknowledge my thanks and appreciation for what all of this has produced in my life. Rather than it producing something very negative and descructive, it has produced something very positive and lasting, building and restoring, peaceful and loving and kind.
So I reflect today, and although I am a work in progress, I see the hand of the Lord and the shape I have been formed and conformed to, and I am thankful. My experiences have made me the man that I am...