Our life is like a river. The destination is set, but the method of our journeying is up to us. We can cruise down the middle of the river at top speed, or we can hug the shore and spin around in eddies. We can crash over rapids or chart a safer path between obstacles. We can slum along the bottom in the mire and slime of sediment, or we can glide along the sparkling surface where the air is clean. The river is ours from birth to death. How we’ll navigate it is determined by the hundreds of small choices we make each day.

To discover our mission in life we must see challenges as opportunities for growth and then face them head on. Each challenge measures our strengths and progress. Even when trials cause pain or sorrow, we must look for new lessons in the pain and ask God for the power to learn and to grow from it. Suffering focuses our attention on what matters most, and with God’s help, we can strengthen our spirits by learning patience, tolerance and love. These lessons learned, we become co-navigators with God. But when unlearned, we go into the eddies, spinning around, making little progress, even blaming God for our unremitting suffering.

But, life is dynamic, and the river stretches and bends as we go. A bad beginning does not inevitably lead to a bad ending. In fact a bad beginning can give us strength to create a good ending.

Sometimes you have to get to know the bottom of the river – the seamy, murky side of life that swallows victims whole and never lets them see the light of day. But through unfathomable effort can look up and find God. With his help you can kick addictions and self-defeating habits out of your life. You can fight the undercurrents, disentangle yourself, break the surface of your troubled life and go to a place where pure air and light can provide new energy. You can grow strong and rescue others from the depths. Your beginnings then become the basis for a greater good you will do in life. Your wounds become muscles. Your fears become faith. Your mistakes become experience used to benefit mankind. Anyone can choose either to drown in past troubles or to fight to live

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