Tough times are the breeding ground of character.
Think about the way humility, perseverance, and generosity emerged in the caldron of personal struggle. When we fail, flounder, and are brought to our knees by unfortunate events the nature of our choices is crucial. We can ascend to be our best (humility) or descend to our more base instincts (revenge).
We can decide to be bitter or better.
Consider the development of perseverance.
We have all lost a job, had a project rejected, and been betrayed by a colleague. After the initial shock of the loss we faced a choice. We could view this crisis as permanent and so descend into learned helplessness or mild depression. However, if we view the crisis as a temporary challenge and a way to explore now opportunities, we start building the muscles of perseverance.
There are key aids to the development of character. One of them is an encounter with grace (you are loved despite yourself and your circumstances.)
Grace is always there lurking in the background. It is one of the constants in our universe. It appears sometimes completely out of left field. It pulls and prods us to the vertical dimension that some call god, others see in the acceptance of friends and family, and others as a mysterious inner resource beyond intellectual knowing.
David Brooks in The Road to Character encourages us in hard times to, “reach out to something outside of you to cope with the forces within yourself.” In that encounter with grace we find the strength to persist until we eventually accept ourselves. This is followed by the courage to take creative steps to rebuild our lives.
At the crossroads of trial, the choices we make on how we view our world and then how we choose to behave makes the difference between the growth of character or its descent into the abyss.