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One of the guys I follow on Twitter is @MaxLucado.  Many of you may know him through his books (I think he’s written one or two and sold a few copies of each).  I’ve had a long-distance admiration of Max for many years, probably due to the fact that we shared a common Christian tradition — we both were born and raised in the same type of church.

He recently sent this tweet that caught my attention: “How we handle our tough times stays with us for a long time.”

If you’re not familiar with Twitter, each “tweet” can only be a maximum of 140 characters.  That means you have to be short and sweet.  By my math, this tweet was all of 13 words.

Isn’t it amazing how much truth can be packed into only 13 words?

I’ve seen leaders, marriages, and business owners all tested by tough times.  I’ve also seen them emerge in a variety of ways, some for the better, some for the worse.

It’s not uncommon to see folks emerge from tough times embittered, mad at the world.  Maybe their anger isn’t on their sleeve but simmering in their heart.  They find themselves unable (or unwilling) to trust again.  Or even to try again.  Defense mechanisms flash all around.  Though the incident that caused the hurt may be long over, the residue is still there.

But then I’ve also seen those tested and tried who emerged better people.  Rather than get bitter, they decided to get better.  Marriages that survive trials are often stronger for it.  Parents that can endure the teenage years with grace and wits intact, often find a new level of relationship with their kids on the other side of the teen years.

When you face a tough time, will you handle it with grace?  Or will you slink into carnal mode and say or do things that may have a momentary pleasure but create ripples that outlast the moment?

How you handle tough times will stay with you (and others) for a long time.