The surprising results of hard times

We all face tough times, but the most amazing people I know have had more than their fair share of hardships.  I’ve met some pretty amazing people in life.  But, the most amazing people all have a similar story. 

The times and places are different for each, but the most amazing guys and gals I’ve met have overcome incredible obstacles. I even created a podcast to showcase these unbeatable people.

Marla Bautista is unbeatable.  She’s faced hardships that few people will ever experience when both of her parents died while she was still a child.  After bouncing around to various family and friends, she eventually ended up homeless.  Life is brutal when you’re trying to survive on the streets without a family.  It doesn’t get more difficult than being a teenage girl living on the streets.  The relentless vulnerability of a homeless girl and constant insecurity for the necessities of life can create dangerous results. 

In Marla’s words, her childhood taught her to become strong without becoming a savage.   Most people would resort to all manner of crime and vice to cope with the challenges of living on the streets… but Marla’s different.  Rather than resorting to her basic survival instincts, she learned how to cope with homelessness and grow into a powerful and graceful woman, despite the challenges. 

The world needs more people like Marla with the rare combination of thick skin and a soft heart. I want to share with you a rare and beautiful combination that Marla developed while living on the streets as a teen.

Hard People

All of us face hard times. However, the most challenging times will make or break you!  Let’s face it; we all know people who were changed forever by a major tragedy.  I’m referring to the kind of people that seemingly never recover from the most challenging body blows in life.

While it would seem natural for people to be broken by significant tragedies, I wager that you also know a person or two that has gone through similar circumstances and came out stronger on the other side. Why do some people grow stronger in hardship while others are broken by them?  

All of the deprivation and dangerous training I experienced as an Army Ranger taught me the principle that “hard times don’t last, but hard people do.”  People who learn to embrace difficulties and grow through their most significant challenges are also the ones who are standing at the top of the mountain that others couldn’t climb.  They are the ones who cross the finish line when the rest of the competition did not finish (DNF) the race.

Marla didn’t ask for hardships.  Difficulties found her when her parents died. I’m not suggesting that you go looking for hardships.  There’s something wrong with you if you want to suffer greatly. You don’t have to go looking for troubles, though; problems will go looking for you with enough time.  It’s not an issue of when the hardships come or how long they last.  Rather, the most important thing is how you last through the difficulties. 

You can get ready for hardships before they happen.  Prepare yourself today for hardships by cultivating a couple of friends who will stick with you no matter the circumstances.  These exterior sources of strength are invaluable when the bottom drops out of your life.

Tender Hearts

There’s an internal source of strength that is equally valuable when hardships find you.  This inner source of strength must also be cultivated before you get hit with difficulties.  As I think about the unbeatable people I know, a tender heart is the one quality that sets them apart from the crowd.  This combination of thick exterior and soft interior is exceedingly rare!  Not only is it rare, but it’s mighty.

Most people tend to become hard on the inside when facing great difficulties.  I understand how this develops. When you have been hurt by life so bad, it’s natural to become hardened to protect yourself from ever being hurt again.  The problem is that this self-defense mechanism doesn’t work, and in the long run, only makes you more vulnerable. 

The human heart is a muscle.  Like any muscle, your heart has a tremendous ability to handle stress and come back stronger after the event.  As long as the muscle remains soft and pliable, it can react to the stress that it experiences.  However, when the muscle becomes stiff, it loses its ability to respond to the environment.  When the heart muscle has hardened, in the most extreme cases, stress can damage (if not destroy) the heart. The soft tissue makes your heart resilient.

Surely you realize that I’m not only talking about muscle fibers of the human heart, but your willingness to be sensitive during hard times.  It’s the tender ability to face difficulties that makes it possible for you to learn and grow because of adversity.  This unusual combination of strength and softness is the secret formula to being prepared for more significant difficulties in the future.

This brings me back to Marla. 

Now, as a wife and mother of three children, she can show her family what tough and tender looks like.  Like most unbeatable people I know, Marla didn’t let it stop with her family.  She uses her childhood difficulties to help other people facing similar circumstances.  She counsels homeless people and allows others in financial jeopardy to avoid the circumstances she once faced.  If you want to see a picture of tough and tender, look no further than Marla Bautista! 

Listen to my whole interview with Marla HERE

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