What Shall We Celebrate Today?
I have been thinking about adversity as a blessing many times over the last few years. In moving through my husband’s severe depression and hospitalization and how that affected our marriage, through divorce, selling our family home, my mother’s battle with alcohol and drugs and subsequent hospital stay and then to my own experience with cancer, I have thought that surely I am being prepared for something. Turns out, I think each thing prepared me for the next. Lately I have been focusing more on how adversity is a blessing for children. I have been writing this post in my head for a couple of weeks. Thich Nhat Hanh says he is writing while he is in the garden picking cabbages. I identify with that, although I can’t seem to grow anything but children and tumors.
While I have been ruminating on the subject a friend called me specifically to say that she is tired of people feeling sorry for her children, who have divorced parents. She has a lovely blended family and her husband adores her boys from a previous marriage, and they have a sister now. And her boys’ father is remarried with a child and all four parents love them. They have plenty of clothes, food, shelter, friends and all the stuff kids need to be healthy. Yet people give her the puppy dog look when she talks about her family.
The other morning a friend posed this question on Facebook: “What do you think the most difficult thing is that a single parent has to face?” There were many responses and one common thread is the guilt that single parents seem to feel. One person, though, posted that her adult children thank her for divorcing their dad because they now see that everyone was better off after the divorce.
As a divorced mom, then also a cancer survivor mom, I have wrestled with guilt over my children. The oldest, especially, expresses that she wishes we weren’t divorced. One night she even said she wondered if god loved her because her parents got divorced and her mom got cancer. Every life has adversity. Through the past few years my children have learned that when life is difficult you just keep going. They have learned that when you’re sad it’s okay to cry and take an extra nap. That it’s okay to say you’re angry or that you need to have some time alone. They have learned that even when life is crappy you can still have fun, laugh, and go to the movies. They have learned that friends will feed you and take care of you when you need help. They have seen the hands and feet of Jesus working for our family, and learned how to accept those blessings. Many people don’t learn those lessons at all in life, much less at age eleven, or eight, or five. I’m sure Grace has the richest understanding of the past few years’ events and she can articulate her feelings well. But I know that all three children have been impacted in their own ways.
It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when we have adversity, and it’s really easy to feel sorry for children facing adversity. But it does make us spiritually stronger, and that’s a blessing at any age.