Hanging above the kitchen sink when I was growing up, right smack in between two windows that looked out to the backyard, was a small plaque with the words, “God forbid, life should be easy!” The quote was from Alan Alda.
My parents loved the actor, the T.V. show ‘MASH’, but most of all they loved that quote. To them, it summed up all of life’s turmoil and tragedies. Don’t expect life to be easy, it never will be. Period.
The words rolled off their tongue without a thought because it reminded them that no one said life would be without pain and a certain amount of struggle. They taught us that bad things are going to happen that are out of your control and seem unfair. Each of us must face something.
It may be health, marriage, family, career, or some sort of financial crisis, but everyone experiences them at one time or another. There are no free passes or better yet, fast passes like they have at Disney World where you get to skip ahead of the line.
Don’t get me wrong, mingled in will also be unbridled happiness, exuberant joy, sunny days and adorable babies… But whether you trudge, walk or skip, every life journey will include hills and valleys, open meadows and dark forests. The goal is that when you’re in the thick of it, to keep moving ahead.
My husband is a huge believer in perseverance. You tuck your head down low and plow through whatever is standing in your way. When adversity hits, the man becomes like a machine. He works harder, putting all of his focus and energy on overcoming the problem. His parents lived through the Great Depression and it was instilled in him from the time he was a child that you don’t give up, that there is something to be admired in those that fight to overcome life’s challenges.
It got me thinking that maybe his childhood wasn’t that different from mine. Both of our families didn’t cushion and protect us from reality. Both my husband and I come out fighting when the time calls for it. We have done it numerous times for our sons and I’ve seen other parents do the same. Someone in the family is in trouble, and the warrior draws his sword. After listening to a friend recently, I had to stop her and say, “Calm down, mama bear.” Something was going on at school with her daughter and her claws and teeth were coming out.
That instinct to protect, the nudge to persevere, the surprising strength that appears, exists in all of us. We rise to the occasion when necessary, we become who we need to be.
Where does this supernatural ability come from? My response is that is comes from our supernatural God.
Our oldest son is getting confirmed and has picked Joshua 1:9 for his favorite Bible verse. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be scared or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” He chose this verse because he said he loved the assurance it gives him. He knows there will be obstacles in his future, but this reminds him that he will never be alone as he pushes through them.
Though my parents no longer live in the house where the plaque hung for thirty years, they still recite the saying but have added onto it as they’ve grown. Perhaps it is from all those challenges that they see the world differently. They have evolved from those rainy days.
Bad news will come and Dad will shake his head uttering, ‘God forbid, life should be easy,” and mom will add in the next breath, “And Thank you, God, for the grace and strength for getting us through it.”
Everyone is dealing with some battle, no one is special and singled out. Life is always changing and hardships are a given. But you draw in a breath and take that next step. You move on.
Why? Because anyone that’s on the other side of that hill you’re climbing will say the same thing.
The journey is always worth it. You arrive a different person.
Who said it would be easy? Not my parents, and I thank them for that.
March 20, 2014