I’ve often wondered what my life would’ve been like if my parents hadn’t divorced when I was 13. I know it would’ve been different, but in what ways? As much as I hated their break-up, I believe it truly was one of the best things that could've happened to me.
With all due respect to my Mother and Father, now both deceased God Bless them, they were not the most mature people when they decided to call it quits, and that hurt. A lot. It was hard for a 13 year old girl to find any solace in a father who verbally abused me by telling me horrible things about my mother, and then tried to shove his new girlfriend in my face before disappearing with his new girlfriend and their new baby to....somewhere in South Florida. Nor was it any comfort to know that when my mother finally found my father, she had him arrested for non-payment of child support. Was that before or after my eight year old brother went through the sliding glass doors, slicing his abdomen open, and we couldn't find Mom because she was off for the weekend with her boyfriend. Well, those events were just the beginning of a long and painful journey through my teens that may have sent many young girls to the "wrong side of town." I may have strayed a bit, may have even knocked on the gates of Hell, but it had to have been Guardian Angels protecting me, because I spent the best part of my teen and young adult years trying to make sense of it all….and it was all because I loved my Mother, and I loved my Father - as much as I loved life itself.
The Lord gives us trials to refine us. It is not the trials that build our character, but how we handle those trials, and I thank HIM for loving me enough to hold my hand and my heart while I sorted through my crazy mixed up emotions during those years. HE sent people into my life that I was able to look up to, talk to, learn from, and feel safe with. They were mentors in every sense, and the security I developed gave me a strong sense of inner peace and integrity that carried me into middle age, and served me most when I really needed it.
This all brings me back to the original question I have asked of myself many times: “What happens when you don't have challenges, trials, and tribulations to develop your character?” Can anyone truly go through their life with a content smile at all times, with no worries, no heart-ache, and no trouble? Is there any such thing? I don't believe so. We all have to face the devil sooner or later, and we all have trials. Some of us may have more trials than others, or so it seems, but we all have them, none-the-less.
When you are faced with a life issue that upsets your world, please do everything in your power to deal with it. Don't ask, "why me?" Don't blame others for your trials, don't self-medicate, or bury yourself in work to escape….. And PLEASE don't let any medical doctor get you hooked on prescription drugs for depression and/or anxiety.
My Mother really was a wonderful person, an inspiration, and beautiful role model for me. I grew to respect her immensely for all of her adversity, and I forgave her many years ago for some indisgressions she had. She's only human. One of the things she taught me was to never stop believing, and always strive for my dreams. I knew she was proud of me and in some unexplainable way, I think she may have been a little envious because I did pursue my dreams, where she only had good intentions. She also taught me to tell the truth, and had an uncanny ability to stop me from lying because I didn't want to upset her if she ever found out I had lied. So, I rarely did anything that I thought she'd disapprove of. And yes, the two times I remember lying to her, she found out.
My father also had good intentions, but didn't have the strength to carry through with them. Somewhere along the line of his early childhood or early adulthood, he had been shattered enough times that he gave up trying to pursue his dreams and just settled for what came along. Sad but true. But Dad is in Heaven now and amongst his loved ones who had passed before, and I know all is well for him. My Father instilled in me a strong work ethic. “When are you going to stop working Dad?” I asked him when he was pushing 75 years of age. “When they close the casket”, was his response. I want to thank Dad for going to adult Bible class with me - a grown woman with a grandson - the year before he went into assisted living, and two years before he died. Dad was in his 80's, the oldest one in our class, and he raised his hand many times to ask questions. He became very popular in that class, and I was SO proud of him. When he asked a question the Pastor couldn't answer, Pastor Arp replied, "George, I just don’t know. You’re going to have to put that question in your JESUS pocket, and when you get to the Pearly Gates, you can pull it out then."
Having been at the gateway of Hell, I can tell you it was really hard to swim up-stream to surface again. I attribute the ability to discern the difference between right and wrong and the strength to do something about it to my life experiences. Here is why I think Change is Good, and why I suggest that you embrace, not curse, your trials. Here is what I’ve learned:
- Take care of your health, both physically and spiritually so you can have the energy and ambition to pursue your dreams;
- Finish what you start so you have the joy of accomplishment;
- Think happy thoughts;
- Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Don't be suspicious - just cautious and careful;
- Forgive those who have wronged you, let by-gones be by-gones and don't live in the past;
- Be kind and generous;
- Eat well, be happy, don't drink excessively, don't smoke (anything), do cardio and strength training or some kind of exercise, and sleep 7-8 hours every night.
Love joins our present with the past and the future.
Think about it. If you have both of your feet planted in mid-air, as I often do, try to ground yourself once in awhile. Link your past with your future while you're in the present, and think about God's Love when you do. The world really is better when looking at it through rose-colored glasses, and if you feel bitter or resentful, you have excess baggage that needs to be cleared. That's your first step, and whether it takes 6 months to change such as the eagle, or six years or longer, make that change. Do it, and you can start right now.