I’m observing these days the idea that adversity establishes priority. This concept takes shape in many different ways. Basically how it works is, in an observational sense, adversity will create barriers in an individuals life. The level of adversity, or the size of the barrier that it creates, determines the effort needed to get over, around, or under said adversity. It is in this effort that is required where priorities are brought to light.
For example, we recently experienced a rare and unusual snow storm here in the land of caffeine. People here have a tendency to be very wary of rain that turns hard and slick. A barrier began to go up in the lives of the inhabitants of the great Puget Sound region. Immediately priorities began to be established. These were indicated by answering the question “ how badly do I want to go to…………?” The answer and the actions following the answer indicate a level of priority. In that moment, if you look analytically at the situation, you can identify priorities. Would I go to work in this? Would I go to school in this? Would I go after the sales in this? Would I go to the in-laws in this? Would I go to church in this? Would I go for coffee in this?
Another barrier observed this past weekend was the American phenomenon called “Black Friday”. Incredible sales and once in a lifetime savings were promised to those who would overcome the adversity. In this case the barrier was the other 30,000 going for the same line at Best Buy that you has your eyes set on. The stakes were high. After all, success for you could mean the savings of $20. It could mean the difference between superstar and also-ran on the parents walk of fame. So what if I lose 4 hours of sleep, or more. So what if I am on the bottom of the pile after some idiot begins tossing laptops into the frenzied crowd. So what if my toes get crushed and my hopes dashed at the sight of another empty pallet and a pile of rain checks. I’m a parent and my priority is to make my child’s life free from want, or so it might seem to an alien observing my species during this time of “Peace on earth, good will toward men”.
Anyway, on the positive side, I’ll have to admit to a bit of pleasant surprise. In my faith community I was able to witness a bit of encouraging priorities in action. In this, the county where you are least likely to find anyone in a church setting on any given weekend, the weather basically gave a hand written note from the doctor excusing most anyone with any type of creativity from the tedious and possibly treacherous task of negotiating the higher regions of my peninsula to attend a gathering of the faithful. In other words, these types of days in my profession can lead to thoughts of canceling due to anticipated dismal attendance. Did I say that out loud? Of course, one could never really entertain such thoughts, but it can be tempting. It was very encouraging. I think that I saw a glimpse of priorities that I had previously underestimated somewhat.
It was encouraging as a leader of said people. It is encouraging because I know that we have been promised much more adversity than a dusting of snow in our lives. We’re promised that in this world we will face all kinds of trials, tribulations, and trouble all for the sake of our hope and faith in a promise. I am able to hear about it and read about it already taking place in other parts of the world. In those regions there is no doubt where the priority lies. I don’t know if I’m there yet. I don’t know how high a barrier might ever, if ever, discourage me from going around, over, or under. I do know that every bit of adversity only further refines my priorities, and for that I am thankful.