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August 2010

 

In this Issue:

 

Note From Erik:

This wonderful year of 2010 has had an unpredictable theme for me… ‘Afflictions.’ I’ve never considered myself to be a person who ‘suffers,’ but when the wind gets knocked out of your sails multiple times, words like ‘suffering, affliction, distress, troubles, and tribulations’ become a reality. Just to be clear, I am truly thriving this year amidst these challenges that have knocked me below the line, but not without some of the deepest soul searching and personal growth I have ever experienced. So, this month’s newsletter is from one sufferer to another. Your trials are real to you, so admit it; you are part of the club.

To Living Above the Line,

Erik

Above The Line Article:                                                                       Bookmark and Share

"Lean into your Afflictions"

By Erik Carlson

My ‘aha’ moment came in June of this year when our family went to ‘Joni and Friends Camp,’ which is a week-long camp in the Redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains. For one week, families with children that have special needs gather for what they call a ‘slice of heaven.’ It truly is.

I don’t know how to describe the experience, but whether it’s singing, playing, entertaining (I did a couple magic shows and talks), worshipping, square dancing, or any other activity, one cannot help but be moved to tears seeing these kids and adults fully engage in living. Afflictions range from quadriplegics/paraplegics, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Spina Bifida, and more; as well as typical family members.

As I experienced this camp, I reflected on my message/theme, which has always been that we can experience F.U.N. on purpose; a life above the line, despite our circumstances. But, as my grandmother used to say, that’s easy to say on a full stomach. In other words, I felt like my personal afflictions could never be as bad as what these kids go through on a day-to-day basis. Some kids sob on the last day because they don’t want to go back to life-as-usual. They can’t take a break from the group home or the wheelchair, even for a day.

I always believed, and still do, that our trials, no matter how painful, pass through the permissive hands of God. He doesn’t wish them, but He allows them. But I never knew why. I never had an answer. Then it hit me. The trials I go through are as real to me (and yours are to you), as the wheelchair is to the spinal cord trauma boy. God does care for what each of us are going through, and here’s where my ‘a-ha’ moment came. The guest pastor at the camp spoke on a little passage from the book of Romans in the New Testament (Romans chapter 5, verses 3-5). The verses read like this:

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

As Pastor Dale put it, this verse is another way of saying that we NEED trials to help make us more like Christ, or to be the best versions of ourselves. We cannot cut corners on this. We cannot say, “This year I’m going to be the best Erik I can be,” without going through, and coming out stronger from these tough experiences. It doesn’t happen from going to Disneyland, or winning awards.

That is why, this year, I came up with a ‘mantra.’ Whenever I felt overwhelmed by my circumstances, I would say under my breath, or even out loud, “Lean into it”… or “Lean into the sufferings.” I was telling myself not to run. Not to escape. Addictions and destructive behavior only stop us from reaching this ‘better version of ourselves’ that leaning into our sufferings will offer us.

And most of all… remember you are not alone. We are all in this together. We are iron for each other. We can sharpen each other. This is where true growth comes from. This is how we better our relationship with our Savior. So I hope you take these words not as a lecture, but as a journey that I am learning. I’m not perfect in this. It’s not easy, but it’s the best way. Thank you for being on this amazing journey with me… I cherish you!

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About Erik Carlson:

Erik Carlson is a sought after speaker and entertainer. His keynote topics blend the experiences and wisdom from his successful business career, and couples it with side splitting comedy magic that will leave your audience astonished and inspired.

Erik is the author and creator of his pathfinder self study course which is a step-by-step roadmap to discovering true prosperity in your career.

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