The last lecture and brick walls
Photo by: star5112
My wife recently sent me a link to a to a video clip from an episode of Oprah where where Professor Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon University reprized a lecture he did for his students call the last lecture. Carnegie Mellon asked their professors to do a lecture for their students, as if it where their very last lecture. Their intent was to inspire the students and allow the professors to share some life lessons with them. In fact for Randy Pausch, it really is probably one of his last lectures. Randy has pancreatic cancer and doctors have given Randy only a few months to live.
If you haven’t seen the video before, take a few minutes to watch it. Randy Pausch’s lecture is inspiring. The lecture is full of wonderful lessons, but one of the profound statements he makes in the video is:
“Brick walls are there for a reason, they let us prove how badly we want something.“
I’ve been thinking about this quote some. Not only about how this applies to me, as I love nothing more than a challenge, but also about how this applies to our personal and financial lives.
As a Christian, I am often asked about why God let’s bad things happen to us, or allows difficult circumstances to occur, or frankly why he doesn’t just give us what we want when we need it. I think Dr. Pausch’s quote really captures the essense of the answer to this question, and in particular our financial lives. His story is all about how you take some tragic or difficult in your life and turning it around and make it into a positive event.
Financial Brick Walls
How many times in your life have you been making significant progress towards a financial goal, such as getting out of debt, saving your emergency fund, saving up for that new house, or even reaching your retirement goals only to have what seemed like a brick wall thrown in front of you? Ever wonder why this happens? “They prove how badly we want something“.
A little more than a year ago, my family had a life changing event occur in our life and not a good one in any shape of the imagination. It was truely the biggest brick wall I’ve ever seen. Prior to this we had always wanted to get control of our finances, and even talked about becoming debt free, but we never really made a serious effort. Here we are year and half later, with more than $20,000 in debt gone, living on a budget, living on less than we earn, and me even blogging on personal finance! I chose to climb the brick wall rather than give up.
Back in August, I wrote about a co-worker and friend who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Watching him go from a man who was so close to being able to retire and being so excited about it, to a man that was completely devastated by a diagnosis he never saw coming was horrible. But he also chose to climb the brick wall. He entered an aggressive treatment program and fought the cancer up until the day he died of pneumonia. Even though he died, as a result of the cancer, I was able to see and experience a side of him I never knew. He left a lasting impression with me, his other co-workers, and his friends that I will never forgot.
- Paidtwice was making aggressive progress towards paying off her debt when the engine on her Saturn went out and required replacing, to the tune of $3700.00+.
- Lynnae’s husband lost his job in October of 2007. Again, both Lynnae and her husband chose to climb the wall and what seemed like a devastating event for them, turned into a wonderful opportunity for her husband to do what he loves to do. Wife his wife my his side, Lynnae’s husband definitely proved how bad he wanted something.
- Trent over at The Simple Dollar wrote about this Road to Financial Armageddon in a 10 post series and discusses his brick wall in Part 8: Meldown. Trent also chose to tackle the wall and is not only on track financially, but runs one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the internet and recently became a full-time blogger.
Many others have shared their “brick wall stories” via financial epiphanies. I alway enjoy reading these kinds of stories as they provide hope and encouragement to those dealing with problems in their lives and provide true examples of how you can overcome the “brick walls” thrown in your path.
Tips for handling brick walls
Through my life and having to deal with the various brick walls God has provided to challenge me and help me grow, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share:
- God will meet all your needs – Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Regardless of the circumstances in your life, and regardless of who or what may have caused those circumstances, God has a plan for your life. It may not be what you think it needs to be, and more than likely, you don’t see the plan at the time the circumstances are occurring, but He has a plan that is best for you. He will provide for all your needs and “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
- Don’t panic – When what we perceive to be bad things happening in our lives, we tend to quickly become overwhelmed and panic. I know this first hand and all too well. Fight that urge to panic. Use that energy instead to begin forming a plan. Better yet, maybe even have a plan B. Having a plan or working on a plan will help you feed more confident and less overwhelmed.
- Reach out to your friends and family – Leverage your friends and family. Not only will they be able to help and support you, they will want to. They will provide support, prayer, temporary finances, a place to stay, and sanctuary from the potential heavy burdens you will have to bear for a while.
- Take one day at a time – When dealing with large brick walls, it’s easy to want to plan a week, a month, or even a year in advance. It’s also very easy to worry. Remember that 99% of things we worry about never happen. Deal with things one day at a time. My favorite Bible verse is Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“
Have you had brick walls thrown in your path? What did you do? How did you overcome them? Share your story, add a comment!