The way we respond to the hardship of the bad things that happen to us can have equally positive or negative effects.
I don't know why bad things happen but I do know they happen to everyone. I am always impressed by the stories of elite athletes in the olympics. The elite of the elite have some of the most triumphant stories of overcoming barriers to get where they arrived. It's almost as if the hardship of what they went through served as motivation to excel and soar in their ability to compete.
When I was younger, I wanted to learn how to play the piano. But we had no piano and no money for piano lessons. I kept bugging my parents for lessons, actually it was more like begging. When I was in the 8th grade, it finally happened. A new pastor was in town with his piano teaching wife (so very typical, I know) and my parents found the money to pay for lessons.
I was ecstatic, but we still didn't have a piano. I was so determined to learn that I asked the pastor if I could come by the church after school on my way home to practice. The church was full of pianos, one in almost every room. So pastor agreed and everyday after school, I stopped by the church and practiced my way through my beginner's play book. I was so excited and wanted to catch up with the other students my age, I signed up for lessons over the summer too.
I learned very quickly and I was so happy. A year later, my dad was able to buy an old upright piano and it was delivered into the living room where it still stands today. He bought it for my mom and I. I remember how broadly he smiled the day it was delivered to us as a surprise! He was so proud.
The piano was so old that it couldn't be tuned to a perfect C. So the piano tuner (who was blind - if you want to talk about learning from hardship - there you go), said he could tune it to be in pitch with the other keys but it would be "off". What that means, is when you played a song, it would sound slightly different like it was being played in another "key" and some of the keys stuck. But I didn't care. It was absolutely beautiful in my eyes. I learned rapidly and made it to state contest with a piano solo in my senior year. Sure it wasn't the olympics, but it felt like a dream come true.
Last year at my mom's graveside service, our retired pastor presided and his piano teaching wife was able to come along. She said to me, "I don't know how you were able to learn to play on that piano you had at home. It was really short of a miracle that you learned to play so wonderfully. I am so proud of you - you were my most accomplished student I ever had." That's what hardship looks like.
Truth be known, I was just so thankful to have any piano to practice on at home, that it didn't matter the condition of the keys, pedals or the pitch. It was because of those hardships that I worked so hard to learn to play. And I was grateful.
I am not a virtuoso, but I learned to play the piano well. The bigger life lesson I learned was that hardship put in front of me, made me want it more and made me work harder for it. I believe that I learned as quickly and became successful because of the hardships I overcame.
How can you use your hardship as a way to move, achieve, or see things differently in your life?
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