We also glory in our sufferings, because we realize that suffering develops perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. ~ Romans 5:3-4
Thus there are three things that endure: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13
Candidate Bill Clinton only received 2.8% of the vote in Iowa when he ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1992. After polls showed that he was way behind in the New Hampshire primary election, he came back to win second place there. He confidently styled himself “The Comeback Kid.” He went on to win the nomination and the presidency in one of the biggest political comebacks in history.
By no stretch of anyone’s imagination am I like Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, I’ve had a few comebacks of my own. After flunking out of college in 1983, I returned to make the Dean’s List when I graduated in 1994. Following a school board election defeat in 2008, I was appointed as a school district trustee and elected board president in 2010. A severe health crisis that summer put me into the ICU and weakened my body so much that I couldn’t sit up, stand, or walk when I woke up from an induced coma. I triumphantly strolled into my house 106 days later.
As 2021 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the challenges of the past two years. A successful heart transplant quickly morphed into a grueling contest of wills between self-confidence and self-doubt. Faith strengthened by my spiritual journey, and wisdom gained from reading philosophy and participating in therapy have taught me how to manage the uncertainty that lurks in the recesses of my mind.
As my psyche continues to wage war against itself, I’m comforted by the fact that I now have the tools to regulate the forces of doubt and rally the power of confidence. As 20th-century French philosopher Albert Camus put it, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” With that said, a question that keeps rolling through my mind is: Do I have another comeback left in me?
Ongoing issues with organ rejection, Covid isolation caused by immunosuppressive meds, and continuous conflict in my mind could be barriers to a successful revival. Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius gave us a solution for that. He wisely advised, “What stands in the way becomes the way.” Despite his wise words, I haven’t given much thought to what another comeback looks like. Until now.
I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They start off as lofty and mostly unattainable goals that end up in a pile of empty promises. Many years ago, I participated in a corporate executive leadership program and learned how to craft a personal vision and mission statement. Since its objectives are measurable and achievable, I update my personal vision and mission every New Year’s Eve. I have a plan and I’m ready to take on 2022 with gusto.
2022 Personal Vision and Mission Statements
My vision is to live a full life as a post-heart transplant patient.
My mission is to nourish my soul, body, and mind on a daily basis.
Read the Gospel and say prayers of gratitude every day
Practice mindfulness and meditate every morning
Communicate with family and friends on a regular basis
Maintain a heart healthy diet
Drink 4 liters of water per day
Exercise a minimum of 5 times per week
Publish my memoir Summer in the Waiting Room
Write a post on ESEReport.com every month
Read something of substance every day
To be sure, I’ve endured a whole bunch of pain during the past decade or so. Suffering became a way of life for me by mid- 2021. Trying to make sense of my new world continues to test me in every way possible. St. Paul the Apostle teaches that suffering ultimately leads to hope in Romans 5:3-4 and his words in 1 Corinthians 13:13 give me confidence that faith, hope, and love will carry the day.
My objectives might not look realistic on paper, but I’ve been doing many of the activities on the list haphazardly for the past few months. Perhaps publishing Summer in the Waiting Room will complete a comeback. Maybe that’s a superficial way to measure success. Maybe not. Who knows? I know this much. Heart rejection or no rejection, Covid isolation or no isolation, confidence or doubt, I’m committed to taking it one day at a time. I won’t let anything stand in the way of a meaningful year. Whatever does will become the way. With faith, hope, and love, I just may be the Comeback Kid in 2022.