One of our interns faced an overwhelming hardship when his father passed away recently. As soon as I heard, I reached out to Jon and arranged to go and see him. His father was only 52 years old.
Jon is currently a student at one of the local universities. He is taking a full course load, planning his upcoming wedding, and working diligently to succeed in his internship with our firm. I was surprised to hear that he has not missed class, despite the emotional challenges that losing a father entails. He admitted that sometimes he has to step out of class for a while, but he comes back. He continues to meet his responsibilities. I don’t know if I would have the gumption to get myself to class just two days after finding out I had lost my dad—while worrying about my mother and younger siblings and having to make funeral arrangements!
I find myself inspired by this young man. I see someone wise beyond his years, with a resilience and “can do” attitude that is admirable. He was clearly experiencing extreme hardship, but it’s how he chose to handle this hardship that made the biggest impression on me.
I’ve asked myself how I would handle a similar hardship. I don’t know the answer. But if and when hardship calls my name, I’ll have an excellent example in mind for what to do.
One of my all-time favorite books is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” After Nazis murdered his wife, mother, and brother, and while still in a concentration camp himself, Frankl realized that while this was not the life he would have chosen, it was the life he had been given. What kind of person he would be depended on how he responded to the circumstances of his life.
Viktor wrote, “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but, rather, what life expected from us.”
I agree with Viktor, and I’m thankful for what Jon has taught me. We are not defined by life’s experiences but by our responses to those experiences.