Dr. Terry A. Gordon

the wounded healer

Maintaining a Positive Outlook While Enduring a Tragedy

It is all about one’s perspective.

Crap Happens! We all know that. Why it happens has confounded some of the wisest people who have lived on this earth. Why bad things happen to innocent people is even more perplexing. I first contemplated that dilemma as a young man when my father endured a painfully, horrific death due to prostate cancer. Dad was a prince among men and from my perspective as a 22 year-old, I couldn’t come to grips as to why a good God would allow such a gentle man to suffer in such an inhumane fashion. It would take me decades of searching until I stumbled upon an understanding.

You know, all too often when confronted with adversity, we tend to blame someone or something else for our misfortune. God might become the recipient of that displeasure. If not the one being blamed, often we ascribe harsh conditions in our lives to “God’s will”. Some believe that God punishes us for evil deeds we have committed in the past and that we deserve the heartache that comes our way. I do not personally subscribe to that conviction.

My belief is that life has a way of offering that which we need the most. Many of the world’s religions promote the notion that what is to be experienced in one’s lifetime is chosen and predestined prior to birth. This is either divinely determined or as some feel, the actual selection is made by the individual who chooses ahead of time what it is to be learned during this incarnation. In either case, the impetus behind the choice is predicated on the spiritual needs of the individual.

If you embrace this premise, then anything that happens simply cannot be a mistake; there can be no such thing as an accident or a misstep. And everything then — is in perfect order.

Now I have to admit since Tyler’s injury, there have been a number of occasions when I’ve doubted this. After all why would I have chosen a tragedy such as this? What possible purpose could come from such a life-altering injury involving my son? Why hadn’t I chosen to let this spinal cord injury be mine?

What I have embraced is that a life’s experience becomes a tragedy, only if we make the conscious decision to make a calamity out of it. We might just as easily choose to accept encounters such at this as a gift from the Divine, a learning tool that helps propel us on to a higher path.

Carl Perkins once said, “If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.” Such is the effect of obstacles along our path…they actually enrich the experience.

I ultimately came to an appreciation that I really had only two possible choices of how to respond to this circumstance. I could either accept the gift for what it is or I could resist the offering. The more I resisted, the greater magnified became the pain and the more the suffering was compounded. Resistance led to resentment. Resentment fueled and anger and turmoil.

It was only when I allowed myself to change the thought that the answer came to me. You know, everything in life is a thought. What you think of me is your thought of me. What you think of this conversation is your thought of this interaction. What you think of your significant other is your thought. What you think of an injury or a loss is merely your thought of that experience.

As Dr Wayne Dyer often says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Once I changed the thought about our so-called tragedy and accepted the experience as a gift from the Divine, peace ensued and my transformative rebirth began.

For certain, not every gift we receive comes wrapped in beautiful paper. Occasionally its package reveals something so revolting that it is unimaginable what possible benefit could come from it. But the gift I received offered me a new way to see experiences, a new way to interpret adversity, a way to transform suffering into insight.

The truth is that the happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, but they definitely make the best of everything they have.