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JO and Captain Plumb

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“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney [Tweet this.]

On a flight back from Orlando this week I sat next to a woman with a Mickey shirt, Mickey ears and a Mickey bag. I asked if by any chance she’d been to Disney while in town. She nodded, smiled and said it was awesome. She then added, “But now I gotta go back to the reality of my crummy job and life.”

She was joking (I think!), but often we do try to use vacations to escape from the difficulties of each day, don’t we?

The day before my encounter with this woman on the plane, I had the honor of sharing the stage at an event with a gentleman who reminded me our goal should not be to escape adversity, but to embrace it. [Tweet this.]

As a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, Captain Plumb was shot down on his 74th mission. With his plane on fire, he ejected, parachuted and was immediately captured. During his six years as a prisoner of war he was starved, abused, beaten, neglected and locked in a small cement cell.

Six years is a long time. Think how much has changed for you since 2008. He spent more than 2,000 days in unfathomable filth, unspeakable abuse and constant pain.

During my time with Captain Plumb he shared how he endured. He had to figure out who he was, what his new purpose was, hold onto hope for tomorrow, discern how God could possibly use this experience for something positive and utilize every opportunity to encourage and be encouraged in the interactions with the other POWs.

One of the most amazing lessons Captain Plumb shared is how he felt about his experience. He was asked, “Wow, you are so normal. You have such a beautiful life today. How did you go through something like that and come back like this?”

Plumb responded, “You got it backwards. I came back like this because I went through something like that.”

My friends, this is a reminder we all need to embrace the hardship within our lives. Sometimes the best thing in the world for us is a kick in the teeth. The difficulties in relationships, crushing diagnosis, tragedies in family, adversity at work and monotony of life will either push you down or propel you forward. The key to remember is it has little to do with the event and much more to do with the meaning we assign to it.

Please don’t misunderstand: I don’t seek pain and I love vacations! I love time away, have already taken my kids to Disney and look forward to going back. The goal, though, isn’t to only to plan where you’re going for fun, but to also celebrate all you’ve been through – and become because of that journey.

So get your park pass. Put on the Mickey ears. Eat the funnel cakes and enjoy the rides. Just know that the greatest vacation you’ll ever journey to isn’t when you escape from reality, but when you wake up to the transformative gift of it.

I want to hear from you! Share your feedback on this post and let me know what you’ve learned from the adversity you’ve faced in your life.

0 replies on “ENOUGH: Escaping Reality”

Loved this post! I’ve both heard & said this very thing many times…taking vaca to get away & then the dreaded return. Captain Plumb is right…all the situations I’ve went through have caused amazing growth, credited to God alone. 🙂 Struggle comes with growth…have to go through it to grow.

Amen, Jenn! Thanks for sharing and for keeping that amazing perspective on life as a true gift. Keep sharing your spark with others! J

Once again, John, you have reminded me that I can pick up my crosses and go forth another day! When I look back and into the trials I faced and will face today, I realize, life is too short!
Embrace the trials! Be God’s witness for the day! Let joy overflow!
Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

Thx, Elaine! I did have a blessed Holy Week and hope you did too. Yes – your ARE a witness for God today. Embrace it and enjoy it! J

You could not be more right I have beaten Breast Cancer twice now and and with each fight I realized that God only gives us what we can handle. My family & freinds faith & love helped me get through it all. I realized that in life it’s doesn’t pay to sweat the small stuff…cleaning will always be there, toys will always need picking up but family they will need you to be strong, confident and realistic about the changes that are happening around them. My family makes me who I am and the fight with breast cancer shaped me as a person and made me look at my life outlook, I realized that I love life!! and it made me a better person inside & out and gave me the kick in the pants that I needed to realize just how LUCKY I am to have such wonderful people in my LIFE!!
Take care Karen

Karen,

SO glad you shared…and so thankful you’ve successfully come through cancer…twice! Wow. What a story and life-lessons you have to share. Thanks for ALL you do and who you are…YOU are a gift. Keep sharing your story and light with those around you…the first-world needs the reminder about what really matters…thanks for living it each day – John

I am so glad you sent this John. The message is awesome.

We were recently on a walking tour in New Orleans on a very rainy morning, and our tour guide took the 5 people in our group to a church to take shelter from the rain. A disheveled gentleman approached us in the front of the church and told us a story about how his house had burned down to the ground earlier that month, and he walked 70 miles to the church. He then when onto to say that now he has no possessions, that the past did not matter, and noise that our minds make in dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, was just creating bad thoughts and it wasn’t worth it to listen to the noise. He said “Live for today because that is all we have.” The other members of the group appeared to be uneasy with the exchange because the man was homeless and talking very directly to the group. The guide thanked him for sharing his story and we moved on.

Later in the tour I overheard another couple talking about what had happened. He asked his partner “What did you think of that guys story at the church?” and she replied – “I don’t know. I thought it was really weird clearly that guy was crazy.”

I don’t know why it stuck with me but my feeling was the polar opposite. His great loss opened a portal that he was able to climb through and to becoming more aware and present and he seemed to be the farthest thing from crazy. The reality is that now is the only thing that matters. When we perceive our daily actions as a means to an ends, we take the joy out of living. I envied the person from our encounter because he appeared to be enlightened and not identified with material possessions, anger or regret of the past, or hope or fear of the future.

This really struck a chord with me and I am appreciative that you included me on this correspondence.

BB: love this post brother.. Thanks for sharing. I’m with you…the guy has insight into what real living is all about…and how ironic that in a church is when you got to meet someone who reminded a group that real life has nothing to do with yesterday, tomorrow, or your belonging….that all you have is enough….and that most of your group left the church thinking the guy was crazy! He may have been…but his advice is the stuff of scriptures. Thanks for sharing my friend…have an awesome day – – John

Hi, John!
Thanks for the great reminder!
I am who I am today because of a lot of different things and people, but especially because of my cancer diagnoses. Three of them to be exact. With each diagnosis, beginning at age 34, I realized what was really important to me. And then I began looking at where I was spending my time. Interestingly enough, they didn’t match up! So I started making some changes, doing the things that I love and spending more time with the ones that I love. Now, 18 years later, I am able to see quickly when I fall in the routine of doing things to be busy or to avoid something or simply because I feel like I ought to. There are still a lot of things I’d like to do, but they would take me away from the things that I already love … so I need to wait a bit. I’m not patient by nature, but God is growing some patience in me! Retirement is coming soon and then, LOOK OUT! 🙂
Thank you for all that you do and for your Monday Morning Motivation!
Blessings!

Gina, what an awesome note…when’s YOUR Book coming out!???? Sounds like you’ve got the story to tell – – thanks for sharing a bit of it here…and thanks for living the lessons within it each day…God bless and know that the best is yet to come! John

John,

I love the inspirational SPARK for today! I WAS SO BLESSED…and feel like God directed me to meet you my business trip (RE/MAX convention) to Vegas.
Your story reminds me of when My daughter, Janell was in the middle of her chemo/radiation treatment 4+ years ago.
During her cancer Battle….She went to Vegas for a friend’s wedding…she was the maid of honor. She then a few months later went to DISNEY World.
She was 29 years old and she has pictures of her and her hubby by her side meeting and greeting each of the Disney characters! She has and continues to teach us that it is about the journey and to live Life showing others you are ALIVE and WELL!

Thanks for sharing from the heart and reminding us how precious life is!

Have an incredible week! Audrey

Audrey: thank you for sharing…and for living the message! tell me, how’s your amazing daughter doing today? …. Thanks for sharing here…and for raising such an awesome daughter;-) God bless – – John

Oh you are so right. Our family went through a very difficult year 2 years ago. My daughter had 2 miscarriages, my son was involved in an auto accident, and then then I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Long surgery and 6 months of chemo proved to be trying. I think when we come across times like that we have a choice. We will keep on moving and allow God to work in our lives or we will shut down and let anger perform it’s work in us. Now I hear my daughter each time life deals her a blow speaking truth. “Well mom, I can either get angry or I can climb into Daddy’s lap for the ride- I am choosing to ride this out with God!” You never know when the chcices you make for you will change those around you as much as they cahnge you!

Libby: you have an amazing story of courage and faith…thanks for showing your family – and so many others – the beauty and courage. Keep fighting…the best is yet to come! Stay on fire! John

John,
That is sometimes what we need a kick in the teeth to wake up. It’s been a tough year and like hearing and seeing positive things. Escaping reality for a short time doesn’t solve any problems.

Amen Henry! Don;t think any of us look forward to having our teeth kicked out, but it certainly seems that is when our greatest growth occurs…Hope you have an awesome day and week — and keep all your teeth! Peace – John

John, Reading your post brought sunshine to this gray day. I cannot imagine how small my world would be if it had not been for my years of chronic pain. I quit full time teaching because I could no longer stand and had the courage to open my own art studio. When friends ask me where I get my strength, I smile knowing my pain is something that has made me a better person. Blessings. Mary

Thanks John! Great blog.

I’m still on my journey back from cancer, and sometimes people look at me as if I’ve suddenly grown three heads when I say the diagnosis was one of the best things that has happened to me.

Life is a wonderful gift and I intend to appreciate all of it even when I’m struggling.

Have a great week!

John,

I love your post!

I have a small example that happened Saturday night. I was getting ready to do an improv show with my two comedy partners. But, before going on stage we were competing with a high school prom taking place above us. The sound and bass of the music permeated our theater – making it hard to hear.

My initial reaction was ‘I don’t want to perform like this. This is not an ideal performance situation!”

I was wrestling with this mentally for a good 30 seconds and then reminded myself, “Wait, you teach dealing with adversity. So, how are you going to respond?”

I got myself to embrace it thinking, “This will be a great story to share as a practical example.” And it is!

The show went great! It forced us to amp up our energy and volume, and we ended up doing really inventive physical comedy. The adversity actually made our show better!

So, thanks for this reminder – and I hope I can meet Capt. Plumb one day!

Have a great day!

Travis

Perfect timing!! After facing a second challenge in my career your comments reminded me to not to abhor the situation, as painful as it is and frustrating as it is as seemingly unfair as it is, but to focus on how I will come out better for it and how it can be used for good for others as well as myself. THANK YOU!!!

You can absolutely use your challenges to fuel you forward into the possibility of your life AND your career. Make it your best day yet, AR! J

John, thank you. It’s shocking to me how you always seem to post exactly what I need to hear. 🙂 We just learned that my stepdad has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I was sitting here feeling absolutely devastated and trying to figure out how I was going to be focused enough to work and I read your email. It helps. Thank you.

Thank YOU for sharing, Kim! Your words mean more than you know. My thoughts are with you and your family as you embrace today and the journey you’ve all been on together. Thanks for ALL that you do, Kim. J

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