We challenge limits instead of limiting challenges in our family. Rippling biceps; six pack abs; toned calves and thighs… yep; that’s how my family members look. On the inside. Oh, we’re not the crux of healthy living when it comes to eating and exercise; but under the skin? Well, we’re just like the others who spend massive amounts of time in the gyms of personal development. Throw a challenge at my family and we’ll beat it! We can bench press a thousand abuses. We’ll overcome any betrayal! And when one of our family members stumbles under the massive weight of mental illness, the others in our home her will rise to the occasion. They’ll quickly grab the corners, challenge limits and help her across the finish line.
There won’t be crowds to cheer for us at the end of the events that my family excels in. You won’t see posters of us hanging from the walls of lusty teens. Even so, we are strong in the areas that we train ourselves in. We are the products of what happens when we challenge limits; of what we have overcome.
Very few people are what they are “in spite of” their experiences. Usually they succeed because they challenge limits.
I often hear of successful people who have excelled “in spite of” their challenges. When I hear or read those words, I am usually filled with skepticism. Very few people are what they are “in spite of” their experiences. Usually they succeed because they challenge limits. Most often, they have become who they are from overcoming their challenges, time and time again.
My wife started the trend that would become the foundation of our family development regime. She garnered her first experiences by being the daughter of a convicted sex felon so notorious, that according to her mother, he was a suspect in Utah murders that were later attributed to Ted Bundy. As a teen, my wife entered foster care where the mode of abuse changed, while still being overwhelming.
When it comes time to challenge limits in personal development, Amy could dead-lift a Mack truck.
Most who have experienced such abuse struggle with self-esteem and Amy was no different. She has even fought depression. But in each case, she lifts the weight. She overcomes the challenges and those unseen “muscles” grow back stronger. My wife never leaves the gym of personal development before the workout is over. She never avoids the pain that comes with growth. When it comes time to challenge limits in personal development, Amy could dead-lift a Mack truck.
Now Amy uses her past development in parenting as she teaches our children. Our three oldest sons are not who they are “in spite of” our family history. They lived the difficulties that came with adopted siblings from traumatic circumstances, who displayed the types of behavior that would come as expected from such environments. Those sons have become what they are, in part, by overcoming those difficult situations. They have learned how to be happy and productive even when the environment is difficult; in short, because they challenge limits. They learned to love without receiving love in return (at least until much later). They returned service and compassion when they were given hate, abuse and contempt. Those sons will have a jump on building their own homes and families because the difficulties that typically come with starting a family and parenting will seem small in comparison. And when the winds of adversity begin to blow in their faces, as it does for all of us, they will challenge limits, knowing that they have the ability to overcome.
I hope that my daughters teach others to challenge limits until they succeed.
I hope that as my daughters mature, they will be able to follow my wife’s example. I hope that they can take their experiences of beatings from a drunken first mother, to teach others how to overcome the emotional and psychological damage that anyone would take away from such a history. I look forward to a day when they look back on life-threatening starvation as motivation to remove others from poverty. I can only pray that watching a toddler sister burst into flames after being thrown onto a wood-burning stove, by a drunken mother, will help them to teach others that you really can beat anything if you work at it long enough and hard enough. I hope that my daughters teach others to challenge limits until they succeed.
Thanking God for experiences as horrific as the ones that have battered my family members seems strange to me. In fact, I haven’t gotten to the point of being able to do that. Even so, I cannot deny that those people who I love the most, are what they are, not “in spite of” their past experiences, but because they challenge limits until they overcome.
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