Overcoming Adversity

I could never do that….it’s too hard! I’m not smart enough. How many times a day do we entertain thoughts like these? When we encounter adversity, negative thoughts seem to be the first ones that fill our minds. On Monday, Diane highlighted the success Janet Yellen has found as she pushed past professional barriers in her career. Today, we asked Diane’s dear friend, Evey Wysocki, to share her story with us. Evey has cerebral palsy, however she has not let the disease define her, and it certainly has not held her back from living life. Evey has learned the secret to facing adversity, and she gladly shares.

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Evey Wysocki and Diane PaddisonI am sharing a glimpse into my life to encourage anyone who may have a disability or to a mom who may have a child with a disability. I have cerebral palsy. However, this never kept me from living a fulfilled, joyful and positive life as a student, professional woman and now in volunteering during my retirement years. My zeal for life is because I love to achieve in the striving process to accomplish long term goals as well as in everyday life situations. Although the Lord has blessed me with a realistic positive determination in reaching those goals, it was the encouragement of wise parents, a caring brother and precious friends that provided the fuel to ignite my "achiever racer" spirit.

I loved the challenge to be creative in finding paths to accomplish goals when roadblocks came my way. The roadblocks in my life were, on the most part, not self inflicting, for I was realistic in knowing what I could do and never dwelt on what I may not be able to do or participate in. Those "roadblocks" throughout my life are people who see a physical handicap and jump to two conclusions: that low intellect goes hand in hand with a physical handicap and that possess a judgmental conviction that they know my capabilities more than I know what I can accomplish.

With a pocketful of happy memories and accomplished goals, my arrival on campus at Rider University soon turned into fear that I was in over my head and that failure was certain. I'm sure that feeling may be common for college freshman away from the successes that got them to that crossroad of life. Short term fears turned into a conviction that the race I was running was not a "me" race but one with my Lord. The Lord carried me through those next four years doing some amazing things. I was blessed with a roommate in a way that could only be orchestrated by the Lord, and I overcame remarks from two of my first semester professors who told my parents that "I had no right to be in college" and that "I would never graduate with a college degree". Four years later they were proven wrong.

Now with a diploma in my hand, where do I find a job? The Lord used my sixth grade teacher, who by this time became an encouraging friend, to brainstorm ideas with. Many years later, I found out that Sandy went to bat for me with Human Resources at Princeton University and that is why, on my first interview, I was hired on the spot. I still remember the excitement of that moment. My love for learning would become a 42 year career in the Office of VP for Finance at prestigious Princeton University.

A few years into my job, a new manager was hired and my life hit a solid roadblock. For the first time in my life, I could not find even a walkway around it. I spent the next ten years frustrated with boredom, but never losing sight of remaining positive and having a thankful heart for my job in an educational environment. Then, the challenging responsibility came in a most unexpected way, with the take over of two poorly managed departments from another area. It was no secret as to their problems with providing accurate accounting.

Why would I be given this opportunity? I have watched people get ahead, while I kept hearing hurtful words in my mind spoken to me years before, words that promised me a job, but not a career. Did he expect failure? Perhaps. But the Lord needed to use a really bad situation to bring my capabilities to light. I was able to become the Assistant Manager of the Rent and Mortgage Department and was well respected by my peers throughout the University. I could have taken another path of wishing and wanting, knowing how much farther I could have climbed in my career without a handicap, but I chose the path of contentment and thankfulness for having a career that I enjoyed beyond words. From being a tiger sport fan to serving as a deacon in my church, I was surrounded by a network of supporting, encouraging friends from the University.

Now, in my retirement years, I continue to run a race towards a goal. Pursuing life in Christ is a goal that will not finish until I put a foot in Heaven. I hope I begin my life in my heavenly home by hearing "Well done, faithful servant. You have used the gifts given to you."

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We hope that Evey’s story has inspired you to face the challenges in your life and/or career. Remember to keep an eternal focus and pursue life in Christ above all else. What does pursuing Christ look like for you?