The other day my youngest and I were out and about with friends and headed to the zoo. I’m not sure what the girls were even talking about. But you know tweens. They talk, laugh, and giggle at just about anything and everything.
We were headed down the interstate and I hear mine say,
“Life is severe!”
I can’t remember anything else she said after that. That got my attention.
She’s 12. And, life has proven to be severe for her. Now, in all good perspective, I understand we aren’t sitting in a cancer ward, or at a funeral home, or living in a war-torn village. All things considered, it is an overall blessed life. But, for her, it has had some challenges.
She has had to walk away from a community that she has known since she was four-years-old without barely a goodbye. This was where she realized her passions and had some dear and strong friendships. This community had become incredibly personal to her and the center of much of her life. Her father’s job was over and she was soon cut off from many she considered family. Her world was turned upside down over night and a once safe place, was no longer safe.
She has faced anxiety about her future and the loss of the only world she really knew. Unfortunately, she has learned tough lessons on rejection and betrayal, grief and loss.
I’ve been thinking about my children and how, as a parent, I have gifts I need to give them. After some of the things we have been through lately, resilience is one of the very best I can give.
It’s not something I can bestow upon their heads by tapping a diamond encrusted wand and sprinkling some pixie dust. Now, wouldn’t that be a trick! So much cooler…and easier! But, alas, this gift doesn’t come that way. But, its value almost can not be measured.
“Life can be severe, but you will make it! You will be just fine.”
One of the worst things I can do is kill myself making everything work out exactly so to my children’s specifications and requests. Because, life happens. Jobs change, you don’t always make the team, the doctor’s report comes back ugly and scary, you aren’t always the chosen favorite, and sometimes people walk away.
As a young adult, I had my first taste of hardship. No matter how hard we tried, things didn’t seem to go our way. Instead of the Midas touch of gold we had the leaden touch. It was quite a rude awakening. Up to that point, we had enjoyed lots of success in college and things ran quite smoothly.
I know there are many who learn hard lessons way too early. Much earlier than anyone would ever wish. But, I grew up in an upper middle class, church attending, two-parent household, with a younger brother, a dog, and a cat. Everything, pretty much, except the picket fence.
So, you can imagine my shock and fear when I was faced with significant hardship for the first time. I was a young married pastor’s wife starting a church from scratch. It was tough. We barely made enough to live, much less bring another human into the world. Yet, we did.
It wasn’t an easy path. Fast forward 15 years and unknown to us, a whole new level of hard was stretching out ahead of us. Yet, this time, we had three very impressionable, young humans in tow.
When they were younger, we could protect and shield them from much of it. But, now, not so much. They are smart and perceptive.
I get discouraged when I begin to think through questions that rattle through my brain. I feel a panic that threatens to scorch my heart.
Why do my kids have to experience such things?
Why do they have to experience loss, rejection and betrayal?
So many things I didn’t have to experience until adulthood.
But, here is the next question.
Self pity rises up and threatens to suck the life and light out of everything if we don’t ask this simple question.
Who are we to expect to escape hardship?
Seriously. Jesus said we would have trouble, but to take heart, because we can overcome because of Him.
So, as unpleasant as it is, we have to face the truth. We are not exempt. Our great hope comes, however, from our great source. We live in this fallen world. But, we are journeying towards the other side. Bumps, bruises, scars and all. We are stronger, smarter, wiser, tougher and more resilient than ever. We have a story to tell.
A story of a God who walked through the desperate darkness with us. Church hurt is excruciating. Being wounded in the house of our friends is a tough pain to swallow. As, a mom, I would give anything to protect my children.
There is much we can shield them from, but you can’t shield them from life.
If we want to raise strong, emotionally healthy adults, we teach them how to walk through pain and disappointment. It is better to learn how to be strong and resilient early in life. You are then equipped to walk this life out with grace. These aren’t lessons merely talked about, but lived out day by day.
I have met some of the most open, grace-filled, and loving people in the last few weeks. They are becoming our new community. These people have been through about as much as we have—maybe more. But, they are good, kind, big-hearted people. They know what it means to travel through the hard, dark places and come out stronger on the other side.
That’s what I want to be. And that is what I want my children to see.