"When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure." Peter Marshall
A friend once told me, "God is using this trial to strengthen you, just as iron is tempered into steel by fire and therefore made stronger". That was a lot of trials ago, and I guess one can say I've experienced my share of contrary winds, pressure, and tempering fire. No more than anyone else, nor any less, just different... and my share.
I would not trade any of it. Not for an easier life or a smaller butt or a brand-new King Ranch Edition Ford F-250 4x4 with saddle-leather seats. All of those contrary winds and pressures and fires gave me an education and perspective on life that is valuable and mine alone. As a result, I know without any doubt what matters to me, who I am, what I want out of life and the people with whom I prefer to share it.
We had a whopper winter storm here today and received well over a foot of snow, maybe eighteen inches. Of course that meant extra barn chores and tougher ones at that... hauling water to the livestock this morning meant carrying full five-gallon pails through snow drifts that were, in places, up to my hips. But much as I dread it... I still love the work. There is something very satisfying about truimphing over a storm like that. Everyone else can whine about how awful it is and the fact they can't go anywhere... but I'm in my element.
The enforced solitude of a storm day always makes me reflective, and always reinforces my ideas about what matters. Sometimes, well-meaning people attempt to tell me what matters, what my priorities should be, what should make me happy. But there is a difference between perception and reality. My heart has always known what makes me happy, and I've always instinctually sought it, even fought for it when necessary.
Oftentimes wise people will advise others to "Go with your gut". That is how I've lived my whole life. For better or for worse, when the chips are down and a choice needs to be made, I always go with my gut... with instinct, or discernment, or that inner voice... whatever it is. Doing so does not always make me politically correct, or popular, or wealthy. What it does do, is give me a life that is my own, and leaves me with few real regrets.