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  Chapter 75 from
It's Not As Tough As You Think
How to smooth out life's bumps.

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski 


Other Available Chapters
2  3  14  32  45  47  79  92 


Setback or Opportunity?

I have often heard the expression, “Whenever you fall down, try to pick something up.”

In my study of psychology I read about the concept of “regression in the service of the ego.” In plain English this means that we sometimes have to take a step back in order to advance. This was nothing new. Hundreds of years ago, Jewish ethicists wrote about “descending in order to ascend.”

When we stand upright, our vision is focused at eye level. Valuable things may be lying in the mud where no one can appreciate their beauty. Furthermore, they may be damaged when people inadvertently step on them. If you have fallen and look around at ground level, you may see things to which you would otherwise have been oblivious.

My work brings me in contact with some people who have “fallen into the mud.” Avi is such a person. His drug use led him to stealing and he spent years in jail. I recognized that Avi had potential. There was something intrinsically good about him. We worked with him to peel off the layers that besmirched his soul. I told Avi that he was like an uncut diamond whose beauty was there, but concealed.

Avi stopped using drugs and began a program of recovery in which he learned new values and a different lifestyle. Months later, Avi was hauling some old furniture donated to the treatment center. As he was dragging an old sofa up the stairs, an envelope fell from the cushions. It contained $5000. This was ownerless money, subject to the rule of “finders-keepers.” Keeping it would not constitute theft.

Avi called the former owners of the dilapidated furniture and told them about the money. They thanked him and told him to give the money to the treatment center. The former thief had become a philanthropist. Removing the layers that covered his inner soul revealed its beauty.

Avi had a bronze plaque affixed to the door of the treatment center. It says “Diamond Polishing Center.”

Sometimes we experience adversity: a business failure, illness, disappointment, and a broken relationship. These painful experiences may allow us to better empathize with others in distress. They may shake us up and set us to think more seriously about what mistakes we may have made and what we really want out of life.

I had found Avi in the mud. I don’t recommend intentionally getting down into the mud. However, if you happen to fall, be sure to look around. You may discover something valuable that you would not have seen otherwise.

 
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