“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Compassion, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
You can not always control situations or people, but you can most definitely control your attitude toward those situations and people.
I learned this the hard way. I grew up in a totally dysfunction family. My saving grace was my Dad–a godly man and my life-long hero. He owned his own business, worked hard, and contributed to the greater good. Dad’s actions, words, and deeds taught me that I couldn’t control many things in life, but I could never give up.
His positive attitude was contagious. His strength and faith in me helped me grow as a person.
At 19, I found myself divorced. The only good thing that came from that marriage was my son, Chris. To use a cliché, Chris was the wind beneath my wings. He taught me how to live, how to laugh, and how to love, and most of all he loved me without expectations of performance. We were as one. We did everything together: showed horses, fished, went to movies, wrote songs, and hung out with my dad. We were as one.
When I realized that I needed an education and good job to buy a home and pay for groceries, I worked two jobs while I went to college at night.
I finally graduated after years of blood, sweat and tears. I built a nice home on 20 acres just outside of Kansas City. I had great clothes. I climbed to the top of the corporate world and was recognized as one of the nation’s top successful women.
After living the life of divorced mom for many years, I married my husband Bill. Oh, we were a happy family… Until, a drunk driver killed Chris in 1982.
My life—the wind beneath my winds—was gone.
Now I’ve lived through some horrific, pain-filled experiences in my life, but losing my only child. It was as though a jagged piece of glass had ripped every seam from my heart. I didn’t want to live. My heart and soul were completely shattered and my “happy family” was destroyed.
As you can imagine, I felt like I too had died.
My husband, Bill, and I turned to other broken people—those who had lost loved ones, people who had been physically crippled for life–individuals who knew the life-changing heartbreak caused by a drunk driver. Together, we founded the Kansas City Heartland Chapter of MADD–Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers.
I’m sharing this with you because in every situation in life, we have choices. In my situation, I could have remained a victim and allowed my revenge, rage, and brokenness to keep me hostage and eventually destroy me and everyone I came in contact with.
It was no cakewalk, but we—the MADD group—spoke before senators, congressman, police officers, judges, schools, and journalists. We were frequent guests on radio and TV programs.
Today the laws are tough on drunk drivers. There’s a public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. We now have MADD in thousands of cities. We now have SADD—Student’s Against Drunk Driver–in our schools.
Why the change? THE ATTITUDES of people like me. People who were unwillingly to live as victims—people who changed the attitudes of lawmakers and the general public. There will always be an empty whole in my heart because of the loss of Chris.
But, I’m no longer a victim to anything. I live a life of VICTORY! AND SO CAN YOU!
I discovered an important lesson: the more I helped others within MADD, the more I helped myself.
And so it is with you. The more you help others, the more you grow as a person. In other words: When your attitude is focused on others first, your attitude can transform from negative victim to “Positive Difference Maker.”
If you’ve experienced pain from a divorce, caustic people, an unreasonable mother-in-law, an unpredictable boss, a crazy peer, your childhood, or whatever—You can be victorious! It’s up to you.
Over time and through the power of Jesus Christ you can turn your pain into passion!
Here’s what I’ve discovered, and I want you to write this down:
It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.
Have a blessed week, filled with abundant blessings and an “attitude of gratitude” toward helping others–pay it forward.
Copyright 2008 by Jan Coates, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Jan Coates is an author, speaker, consultant, founder of Set Free Today Ministries and serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery®.