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  A Christian Faith Magazine July 2005, Volume 10, Issue 12  
Rev. Mark Connolly Facing Life's Setbacks
Rev. Mark Connolly
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I would like to share a few thoughts with you on the subject of "how do you accept setbacks?" When adversity or suffering come into your life, how do you react? One theme we have to keep in our mind when grief strikes our life, the only cure is grieving.

This essay on "how do you accept setbacks" is prompted by two books. One is causing great concern in the field of clinical psychology. The other is causing unusual interest among young woman who are trying serious dating.

The first book is called "One Nation Under Therapy." The second is called, "He Really Is Not That Into You."

The first book, "One Nation Under Therapy" reminds everyone who experiences tragedy or setbacks that you have in your character, enough self reliance, enough fortitude, enough coping abilities to cope with whatever problems of an adverse nature that come into your life. Some will need professional help because of adverse experiences such as child abuse and other unfortunate experiences, but most do not.

And then they narrate example after example of people who have experienced tragedy and through their own coping mechanisms have lived fruitful and productive lives. Over 85% of the Jewish people in the Holocaust came through this ordeal and their families and themselves lived very productive lives. How the people during the Second World War with over 50 consecutive days of bombing came through, influenced by what happened, but not emotionally damaged?

Then the author mentioned that very few of the people in 9/11 underwent extensive therapy. They mentioned that some nine thousand counselors were on hand and very few of them were consulted by the victims of that horrible event. They relied on their own coping mechanism to see them through this devastating tragedy. The last example they gave is to talk about the camp in New Mexico run by Don Imus and his wife that is filled with kids suffering with cancer. The purpose for these kids with cancer is for these kids who are there to work hard, to learn how to ride a horse, to take care of the animals, to take responsibility and recover their self sufficiency. They spend very little time talking about themselves and it is against the rules to mention a child's disease at all.

The second book highlights the extremes women go through in the process of dating. The panic they experience when a promised telephone call does not get returned. The anxiety they experience when they feel their boy friend is no longer showing the great interest that he once did. The trauma that they experienced when they are replaced by another date. The author also highlights that many women do the same thing to men. The result is that both are emotionally hurt and people who have been emotionally hurt, whose affections have been cast aside, whose value system has been compromised, take a long time to heal and often even longer than those who have been the victim of a serious auto accident or earthquakes experiences or a 9/11 experience.


The approach to "curing" the problem is to help them gain their self reliance, their sense of resiliency, the stronger association with their friends, family and Church.

What all of us have to remind ourselves today is that setbacks, adversities, are part of living. And oftentimes we can learn from those setbacks if our coping mechanisms are working.

The first mechanism is a deepening of spiritual values like faith and hope. A deep sense of faith helps you live with the unanswered. A deep sense of hope helps you live with the unresolved.

You cannot let self pity control you when an adversity or setback occurs. You cannot waste time in trying to change things that have already happened. That is why the prayer of serenity is so important:


The third technique is identifying your suffering with that of Christ. If suffering did not pass by Christ, it will not pass by us. When you unite your suffering with that of Christ, you grow spiritually, your emotions are helped, your character is helped and life becomes more real and more joyful. Without Christ you can do nothing. With Christ you can do everything.

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