Our terrible losses and the adversity they bring make us stronger, better human beings, in keeping with God’s will
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The phone rang early. “Meet me for breakfast — my treat,” said a vaguely familiar voice.
“Great,” I answered, “but who is my breakfast benefactor?” When he said Billy Clay, I was thrilled; fifty years ago, he and I were college roommates.
“After our military tours of duty, I earned my living for over two decades cutting up ground as a Mississippi Delta cotton farmer,” I said. “As an orthopedic surgeon, you earned your living for over two decades cutting up bodies on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. How did your career turn out?”
Billy told me that he loved his work, had been quite successful, and was able to build his family a fine home on a piece of property he had bought. But fate dealt him some cruel blows. In her twenties, one of his two daughters died, and then Hurricane Katrina swept through and left nothing but bare ground where his home sat.
“How did your career turn out?” he asked.
“Well, nurturing plants and watching them grow has always fascinated me,” I answered. “So, like you, I loved my work. I built a nice home, married the woman of my dreams, and looked forward to spending the rest of my life right where I most wanted to be.
“But, as was the case with you, fate delivered some cruel blows. My wife decided that country life was not for her, and left me. I was devastated. Then, a decade later, circumstances beyond my control forced me out of the farming business. Like you, I lost a loved one and everything I’d worked so hard to build up.”
After explaining that his losses had led to inward peace and enjoyment of the life he now lives, he asked, “What about you, Roomie? How have you coped in the years after making your last crop?”
“Not well,” I answered. “To this day I cannot go near my old farm; the heartache would be too much. As for the wife I loved and lost, her life has been a tragedy. A few years after we parted, she developed severe mental problems, and now spends her days alone and medicated. Unlike you, I still grieve over my losses.”
Mulling over my comments, he asked, “What are you doing now?” I told him that I am a college teacher.
“Do you like what you do?”
“I love it. I hope that I’m standing behind a lectern when I draw my last breath.”
“My friend,” he answered, “those losses you grieve over — let them go! God works His will and strange and mysterious ways. He led you to a second career that is providing what really matters: inward joy. Our terrible losses and the adversity they bring make us stronger, better human beings, in keeping with God’s will.”
True doctors never miss an opportunity to heal. When we parted, I felt a peace that had long eluded me. I vowed to put the losses behind me and focus on what replaced them: inward joy.