by Rebecca Mallory
All of us, at one time or another, are brought to our knees because of unexpected events. Trials and tribulation hit each of us whether we’re rich, poor, short or tall, young or old. We all have them. These moments often jolt us back to reality in reflection of what is truly important. I’ve had one of those weeks. Not from personal experience, but from the experience of others.
How do you deal with trials, devastating news and/or set backs?
What purpose do trials serve?
What are we supposed to learn from them?
Without core beliefs and a trustworthy support group, many of us would be caught up in the “why’s” of life. No, life is not fair. Life is precious and can be cut short at any time.Though tragedy strikes us all, we still have a choice of how we will react.
Will we allow it to destroy us? Or will we pick ourselves up, be forgiving, loving and patient and move on? I contend that our reaction depends on those core beliefs. So as you kiss your kids or spouse “goodbye” today, let’s not take anything for granted.
If this was your last day on earth, would you be a different person?
How would you treat the people around you if this was so?
Would you look for the good?
Such was the case for some friends of ours. Mary, (not her real name) had been divorced for many years. She raised her sweet kids, got them through college, and did it alone. She recently met a great guy from Australia online, they dated and got married over Thanksgiving, 2015. They were so incredibly happy together, Mary seemed to glow. Last week, Robert (not his real name) was playing pickup basketball and literally collapsed with a massive cardiac arrest and died at 54 years old. Why? How is that fair to this darling girl?
A couple of days later, I heard of a young mom in the neighborhood who was taking her little four year old out for a walk in hopes that mom would soon go into labor and deliver their new baby sister. The little girl somehow let go of her mother’s hand, dashed into the street and was hit by a car and killed. Why? How is that fair to this grieving young family?
Life is anything but fair. So how do we deal with these tragedies of life? I had a sister who died of lung cancer three years ago. She never touched tobacco.
I know that each of you have these same stories or know of close friends who have. Here’s what I do know, however. We must all come to grips with what life may throw at us. We need to have a strong support system and core beliefs to guide us through those times. For many people that is their religion, a faithful friend, strong families, or belief in a higher power, etc. It is so important that we have access to something or someone bigger than us to support us through these times.
I reflected on the words spoken in the funeral of this newlywed. His two sons spoke and were obviously distraught. One son recounted how he always got on his dad’s case because he didn’t save money like the son wished he would. “But,” he answered, “I’m creating memories with my precious family.” This son was so grateful for that. Mary, his wife, bravely spoke also. She spoke of Robert’s goodness and positive attitude. She spoke of the seven glorious weeks they had together and how grateful she was for those precious memories. Certainly she could have sobbed and wailed about how unfair it was that he was taken at such a young age. From her core beliefs, however, Mary chose to look at the bright side of having had those wonderful weeks with a wonderful man. The difficulty will not stop for a long time of course. Loneliness will settle in and those pesky “why’s?” will creep into her thoughts as they do all of us when we face trials.
Life rarely turns out the way we planned. As teenagers many young girls picture their life with a handsome and rich husband who showers them with anything they want. Large families who all love each other and live next to each other in total bliss. Problems and life’s road bumps would never be an issue for them. What if that actually happened? What kind of growth is gained from that perfect life? How would they learn to be a little more kind, compassionate or empathetic to those around them?
Look back at your life. What experiences brought you the most heartache and/or joy? I’ll bet it was those that were most difficult and brought you to your knees to search the depths of your soul for what is truly important. “Stuff” suddenly does not matter. Petty grievances are often forgiven, and hopefully, we learn life’s hard but valuable lessons that then prepare us for the next big challenge we will face. I remember feeling sorry for parents who had a wayward child, one who had a drug addiction, lost a job, or died at a young age. It wasn’t until my family faced similar trials that I truly understood the pain of those who went before us.
Like the rough stone that tumbles into a river and is constantly bombarded with debris, freezing cold water and other elements, it slowly becomes smooth as it yields to the river. On the other hand, think of those you know who choose to remain heartbroken and bitter because of refusing to yield to life’s curve balls. Often these people look much older than their age and are in poor health because the worry and stress that they allow, yes allow, to consume them will age or even kill them faster than most diseases.
This blog post has been cathartic for me as I struggle with the “why’s?” of life. What have I learned? The same lessons that I learn each time a tragedy happens and yanks me back to the few things in life that matter: my God, my family, my relationships. Life is fleeting and you can always expect the unexpected. Love your children, spouse, neighbors and friends. Treat the people in your community with love and respect. They are experiencing life just as you are. They have feelings, families, trials and joys just like you. Let’s try to be a little kinder, a little more gentle in our reactions, less likely to take offense, and more filled with joy and laughter.
Be the bright spot in someone’s day. It takes so little on our part to bring a smile to someone’s face. And the great secret is that you benefit even more and feel great joy. No, life isn’t fair, but we can overcome the unfairness with our choosing to look at the good in all including ourselves!