Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Learning in Adversity

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On the left is me now. On the right is me one year ago, at the hospital with my son Chandler who was one day old. He turned a year old just a few weeks ago. In some ways this past year has gone incredibly fast - and in some ways it's gone so incredibly slow.

The past twelve months have had their share of ups and downs. Highlights, like the birth of my first son and the news that our second child is on the way, have made it one of the best years of my life. At the same time, the last few months have been incredibly difficult. For those that are close to me, you already know I've been sick for a little while now. You'll probably notice in the pictures above the 65 pounds I've lost in 100 days... not by choice. There's no need to drill down into my entire journey and list of symptoms, but for those that don't know I'll briefly explain. I've been dealing with nausea, loss of appetite, reflux, chest pain, insomnia, and other "flu like" symptoms for some time. My diet is primarily liquid these days, and I spend much of the day lacking any semblance of the drive and energy I once had. That's probably the best way to summarize a surprisingly complex situation filled with doctors visits, tests, and more blood work than I knew was possible. It's been such a huge part of life for the past few months that I've found it odd not to write something on my blog. At the same time, I've always told myself I would wait to write anything until I was better... or at least until I had a clear diagnosis. I felt I needed conclusions and resolution so I could tell the whole story. Every great story in life has a nice, tidy, happy, ending... right? Days passed, than weeks went by, and now months have come and gone, and I don't have either of those two things. I'm still sick with something, and I still don't know what it is. Yet here I am, writing this post anyway.

Why write now? I'll tell you one thing, it's not because I need sympathy. There are plenty - I mean plenty - of people who have it worse than me. That truly is my perspective. It's also not because I need more support - I have that in abundance. My friends and family have been a significant blessing during this time, and I know they will continue to support me. I'm writing now because of growth. I'm writing because I realize now that everything in life is not simple. We don't always get solutions. Things don't always go back to the way way they were. Sometimes we don't get answers, or at least not the ones we want. I've learned that resolution and restoration are not the same as a return to what was. In fact, after all I've been through, maybe returning to the way things were - the way I was - would be the worst thing I could wish for.

Though I sense this challenge in my life is far from over, I can at least step back enough to have some limited perspective on what I've learned. Learning and growth have always been important to me, and from that perspective this may be one of the most beneficial things that has ever happened. Though I'm hardly at the point where I can say I'd do this again by choice, the only thing I really have a choice in is my response. So, I'll attempt to learn and grow from adversity. And from that perspective, here are 10 of the lessons I've either learned for the first time or had reinforced to me in a new, fresh, and powerful way.

10 Lessons from Adversity

1. My wife, Amee, loves me very much.

2. God is real and active in my life.

3. In difficult circumstances we shouldn't waste the opportunity to grow.

4. We can handle more than we think.

5. Maturity is finding some sense of stability in the midst of complexity. Life is complicated.

6. Never underestimate the value of a friends & family support system.

7. Invest in relationships when times are good so they're strong when you have little to offer.

8. Maturity is not a lack of questioning our beliefs, but the courage to find out what's really true. 

9. Stay humble. Life is fragile and complicated.

10. Everyone needs hope.

The Problem with Story

Tools for Tracking Priorities