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It is the Winds that Make us Strong
Gina Schreck, The Pinnacle Group

Should we celebrate during our times of trouble? Should we be thankful for the problems that we have? I say YES! Rejoice right in the middle of your greatest tribulation. This may seem absolutely insane, but you should be grateful for the trials you go through. Give thanks for the thorns that are put in your flesh.

I know a woman, we###ll call her Sue, who had the perfect upbringing (by my standards anyway). She had the "Leave it to Beaver" household with mom always home for her and dad right there to help her with anything she may need. Sue got along with her brother and sister; got excellent grades all through school; had impeccable teeth and even played the piano (How much more perfect do they come?). She got married shortly after college to a wonderful man and now has two model children who would never throw a tantrum in the grocery store or tell their mother "NO." Don###t you feel sorry for her? I do.

I worked with Sue for three years and had the chance to observe some very interesting characteristics about her. She breezed through the interview process and was placed in a good position. Her job was fairly routine and she felt very confident and secure in the position. She became real eager to move up and applied for every internal promotion.

After several attempts, Sue was promoted from the service area to the sales and marketing team. That is were the pressure was applied. This new job was very different for her. Nothing was scheduled or orderly. Chaos was the norm. Whenever Sue was faced with a difficult task, or found herself in the middle of a problem, she would make excuses, blame everyone else and experience great levels of stress. She eventually caved under the pressure and quit. She did not have the coping mechanisms or survival instincts to handle things that were not routine. These were some of the toughest times in her entire life!

The other day someone asked me how I have made it through my tough times. I was a single parent for many years, my children have told me "no" more than once, and I had to get braces to have semi-perfect teeth, and these are just a fraction of the thorns I have encountered - unlike my friend above. I told this person, "I###ve always kicked into a survival mode and I just make it, that###s all." There are those who cave in and those who survive! I have always chosen to survive.

I look at my life and all the things I have had to "survive" through. I grew up never knowing a father. I moved from school to school (13 different schools by the time I graduated high school) moving just when I started forming any real friendships. I got married at the age of eighteen and then divorced three years later; raised two boys on a pitiful salary and sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet. I could go on and on listing the storms that I have weathered, but my point is this: If it were not for each and every one of these storms, I would not be the strong woman I am today.

If it were not for these things I would not have had the guts to take the risks I have. I got re-married to the man of my dreams. I left a high paying job to start a new business. I continue to look for areas to challenge myself and live life to its fullest. I could not do this if I were not a strong person.

I would guess that my husband wishes I were not so strong sometimes (I think he would call it stubbornly independent versus just strong). One example of this stubbornness‹I mean strength‹was something I did this summer. I had set a goal early in the year that I would climb a "fourteener" before my next birthday. My husband and I kept trying to plan a day to go climb one of the fourteen thousand-foot peaks together but as the months flew by our schedules got fuller. I decided that the only way I was going to achieve this goal was to just go out and do it!

My husband was in Georgia conducting a training class, and all the kids were in school, so off I went. It was definitely hard, but I had a wonderful time and I learned a lot about myself that day. My husband said I could have been hurt and I should never go climbing alone, but sometimes my enthusiasm outweighs my patience and I do foolish things! Oh well.

Something else I did a lot of, for the first time, was to travel alone this summer to several states for training classes. I had a flight cancelled in Albuquerque at 10:00pm and had to stay over another night. I have missed my flight once and lost my ticket once. I found myself lost in the cornfields of Minnesota and driving in circles in Washington DC before finding the hotel, but every trip was an adventure and a learning experience.

What does give us the strength to do things that others would deem "undoable?" For that matter, what makes us strong enough to survive the daily battles that we endure?

On one of my trips I found the answer, down inside, (I knew this already, but it was a wonderful confirmation of something I had known all along). I was in Arizona for a week and had a lot of time off between classes so I decided to go and see some sights. I saw the beautiful Saguaro National Park and then went to the Biosphere 2, which is just outside of Tucson.

On the tour of Biosphere 2, the guide was explaining why the Acacia trees were so weak and frail (They all had broken branches and were very sickly looking). She said that because there is no wind inside Biosphere 2, the trees never develop the layers of fibers that they would naturally have if they had grown outside. She said that without the wind to blow them, almost to the breaking-point, they will not survive for very long because they grow tall but stay very skinny and their trunk can not support the weight of the long, skinny branches. Just like us...they needed to experience tough times to grow strong!

It was like a revelation to me. As the guide was telling us about the poor trees inside this biodome, I was having a major breakthrough in thinking. No longer can I complain about my "winds" or times of trouble. They are building my fibers. The Bible also tells us that our thorns are there for a reason. In II Corinthians, Paul mentions a thorn that God gave him in his flesh (a trial of some sort) and the strength he drew from it. He says, "I will delight in weaknesses, insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

What are the "winds" that you are facing? What storms are you choosing to survive through and learn from? I truly believe that every trying time we endure, makes us stronger than before. We are growing the necessary fibers in our character to take us higher and further than we ever thought possible.

So again I ask you, "Should we celebrate during our times of trouble? Should we be thankful for the problems that we have?" YES! Feel sorry for those people who have no trials in their life. Pity the woman who has everything perfect. Her branches will grow long and skinny and soon break off!

Give thanks for the harsh winds and brutal weather, for it is only through them that you are made strong!

Gina Schreck is a writer, painter, mountain climber and the president of The Pinnacle Group (among other things). The Pinnacle Group customizes training programs for corporations such as Jones Intercable and United Airlines. Their focus is peak performance for sales, customer service and management teams. Send e-mail to PinnaclG@aol.com or call 303.978.0887