Ruined My Life

Ruined? I Don’t Think So

It seems like hardly a day goes by when I do not hear someone make the exclamation that someone or something “ruined” a life. It always makes me wince. What a sad point of view. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying it is sad that the person’s life was supposedly ruined. I am sympathetic to how a disaster or catastrophe can have a terrible impact. But “ruin” a life? The saddest part about that statement is the short-sightedness of the speaker.

Stop and think about what a person is saying when they state that some person or event ruined their life. How can that be? It is perfectly understandable that a person may feel devastated by some event. The death or tragic injury to a loved one could be such an event. A divorce or breakup of some other serious relationship can bring severe heartache. But your life isn’t ruined by those events. Yes, it may have ruined your plans. Yes things are not going to go as you had expected. But your life is not ruined. It is still there in front of you with an entirely different set of opportunities and options.

It may be damaged but it isn’t ruined

When I was working as a trial lawyer I used to represent people with catastrophic injuries. They were some of the most inspiring people I ever met. They were motivated to make a full recovery physically if they could. But if they were unable, most of them were ready to make the best out of the situation as it now existed. I remember one young man who was paralyzed in a car accident from the mid-spine down. He would never walk again. He was only 22 years old. One day he was coming to my office for an appointment. I walked into the waiting room to see him sitting in his wheelchair.

“Hi, Jeffrey, how are you doing today?” I asked.

He looked up at me with the most genuinely sincere smile I have ever seen and said, “Great. I just got my grades back for the semester and I got a 3.2 overall average.”

Well, sure, getting good grades is one thing to be happy about. But “My gosh,” I thought, “how can you say you are doing ‘great’ when you are sitting here in this wheelchair?” You see, Jeffery was not going to let this event in his life define him. He didn’t see his life as ruined. Plenty of people would have been ready to lavish him with pity if he had only wanted to sit in his house and complain. He was having none of that.

It is all up to you

Nobody wants suffering, pain or sorrow in their life. But it is bound to come to most people at least once in a while. It doesn’t mean your life is ruined. You do not need to let that event define your life or steal your joy. Life’s plans change. Sometimes we change them and sometimes they get changed for us. Never let a change of plans make you think your life is ruined.