We fall down, we get up,
we fall down, we get up
We fall down, we get up
And the saints are just the sinners
Who fall down and get up
–“We Fall Down“, written by Kyle Matthews, performed by Bob Carlisle: The Best of Bob Carlisle: Butterfly Kisses & Other Stories, 2002, Diadem
Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity, to cope with stress and even catastrophe. The sciences of psychology, sociology and psychiatry have contributed evidence that we have an innate capacity for resiliency. Extensive research has shown that no matter what conditions and adversities we face as children, the majority of us “make it”. Most people find a way to somehow make a decent life for themselves no matter what happens to them.
Sometimes we don’t live up to our full potential. Sometimes we have to learn the lesson that God has a plan of hope for us the hard way, and that takes resiliency.
I believe God uses our adversity, misfortune and tragedy as prelude to His miracles.
My friend Jared Vogel knows resiliency. He’s lived it. I would like to share his story of a season of his life that started in the fall of 2005, when the universe and God Himself seemed to be against Jared. He now claims it to be one of the best years of his life because, from all the adversity he has learned to live a greater life. Thanks to Jared’s resiliency, he has learned to live up to more of his potential.
Jared Vogel sarcastically refers to his “super senior-year” of college at Millikin University; actually, Jared was exhausted from his battle of being a man going into the field of elementary education: “You will hear endless praise and reassurance that ‘We need male teachers,’ but the novelty soon ends and the folks in charge will watch you more closely than they do the rest.”
“I had endured the scrutiny without guidance for three years when my aunt died,” Jared writes. Robin Vogel was a police officer in Decatur, Illinois: the first officer in Decatur to be killed in the line of duty in 80 years. Her car was struck on the front passenger side by a drunk driver (whose blood/alcohol level was three times the legal limit) driving at about 80 mph. She was comatose for two days before her body gave up.
“I recounted in my mind all of the exciting stories she would tell about her experiences on the night shift and admired the way she would always put a hilarious spin on them,” Jared remembers. “She had a Catholic funeral. It was the most extravagant display of respect I had ever seen.”
That was early in October. In December, Jared’s mom found out that she had kidney-sized kidney stones. She had a condition called hemolytic aenemia for 25 years. Her gallbladder and liver killed red blood cells before they were mature enough to carry much oxygen. She usually had about half the blood count of a normal human. When she collapsed in the hospital, they found that she was down to less than a fourth of the blood of a normal human. The doctors got some blood from Peoria, IL and told everyone that it would be okay to go home.
“At 11:47 on December 7, a teaspoon of blood from Peoria killed my mom. There’s power in the blood.”
In January 2006, January started student teaching. “I was a terrible teacher. I was awkward, preoccupied, unable to concentrate… Needless to say, I failed. I had more than enough credit hours to receive a degree, so to hold on to student loans, I signed up for an independent study Environmental Biology class in which I did some research and wrote five ten-page papers. Landfills, health problems associated with radiation, water treatment, fossil fuel supplies, and “green” shopping. I spent my days at home doing nothing in particular.”
When Jared’s family was home for his mother’s funeral, they realized that with his mom not there and Jared getting ready to start student teaching, there would be no one to take care of “Grandpa”, who was needing more and more care. Grandpa ended up in an assissted living home near Ft. Worth, TX, and in April, Jared went to Ft. Worth to help his grandfather. He knew he had to be back in time to graduate from Millikin.
In May 2006, Jared received a B.S. Education, Social Science, English. Says Jared, “I thought that sounded three times more impressive than the degree I would’ve gotten had I passed student teaching: B.S. Elementary Education.”
That summer, good things began to happen for Jared, although he wasn’t sure of this at the time. Our friend John Schirle told Jared that another friend, Jeffery Gosnell, was looking for camp counselors for the summer… just in case he was looking for a job. So Jared worked that summer at Great Oaks camp in Lacon, IL. There, he learned how to act more naturally around school age kids and to constantly count the 12 of them and know what each of them were doing at all times.
At the end of the summer, Jared got his certificate to become a substitute teacher. John Schirle then told him about coming to work for me at Performance Development Network (PDN)as a facilitator for my Teambuilding Adventures operation. Says Jared, “Even if it wasn’t a living, it was fun and challenging work.”
Jared spent the next year substitute teaching and working with PDN. He spent some time in Arizona working for an uncle and after Arizona, Jared went back to Illinois to finish his student teaching. His dad had sold their house and moved in with his new wife. So Jared moved in with his brother who lives about five miles from the school where he would teach.
“By this time I was a very good teacher'” Jared professes. “I passed student teaching and got on the dean’s list at Millikin, and finished the school year substitute teaching and working for PDN.”
…All Predude to Miracle
Today, Jared sees it all as good. “I firmly believe that if my grandpa’s apartment hadn’t flooded, he might still live around here, but I wouldn’t have ended up in Texas for a spring and Arizona for a summer. If my aunt hadn’t died, she’d have some good stories, but I’d have several more traffic tickets than I do (and my uncle wouldn’t have his new wife and son). If my mom hadn’t died, I’d have passed student teaching the first time, but I’d still be a terrible teacher. I’d have learned the ways of an average teacher and would not have done anything new or exciting. It’s possible that I may have gotten a teaching job out of college, in which case I would never have learned the management techniques that I did at Great Oaks, nor would I have developed the constructivist style that I greatly improved upon at PDN.”
He continues, “It is nothing less than macabre to think to myself, ‘It’s a good thing that mom died’, but when I think about where my plans could’ve gotten me, I am glad that something -anything – stopped those plans from completion.”
Recognizing there is a plan of hope for us is necessary to discover our purpose and begin to make our own plans that fit with this purpose.
- How will your life be different when you know, with absolute certainty, that you have overcome failure?
- How can you turn your misfortune into good fortune?
- What must you do to begin living with peace even with the uncertainties of today’s world?
- How will you prepare yourself to recognize God’s plans for you in the midst of uncertainty?