Posts Tagged ‘adversity’

Back in October, my oldest son broke his arm while playing high school football; and what I thought would be a relatively quick run to the emergency room turned into days of hospitalization and multiple surgeries.  Late on that first evening, while under the influence of some pretty strong pain medication, he said, “I wish this had never happened”.  And as he drifted off to sleep, I thought about how often life presents us with situations that we wish had never happened.  Sickness, injury, car trouble, divorce, unexpected bills, loss of a loved one, bad grades, getting laid off, missing the game winning shot, identity theft, unplanned pregnancy, a traffic ticket, betrayal, addiction…  It seems that the fabric of our days has many such threads woven into it. 


In light of that fact, I began to wonder how well we’ve prepared our kids to face that kind of adversity.  Unwittingly, and in the name of protecting them, we can run out in front of our kids, removing every obstacle from their path, and at times, even going back to clean up their messes behind them.  We rationalize that we’re trying to give them every advantage, and get them off to a good start.  But too often they emerge from childhood totally unprepared to cope with the inherent struggles of adult life.  While the instinct to protect our children, and to do for them, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it must be balanced with the need to prepare them to go out and make a life of their own.  Too many people of my generation are raising their grandkids, and/or paying their adult children’s bills; and often times that is simply the fruit of seeds that we unintentionally planted along the way.

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As I prepare to spend another night on a hospital room couch, I must admit that this isn’t how I envisioned my weekend playing out.   Yesterday’s game was going well, both Patrick & AJ were making plays, and we were winning.  But then, on a fairly simple looking tackle, Pat came up clutching his arm, and even from the stands you could see that his forearm was badly broken.


Even then, I thought we’d spend some hours in the Emergency Room, and be home in time for dinner.  I wasn’t counting on the fact that his arm wouldn’t reset, or that they’d keep him for surgery, or that he’d need a second surgery.  But isn’t that how life goes.   We can make our plans and try to prepare, but the days unfold on their own terms.


Our society seems to perpetuate the myth that if you’re smart & proactive, you can avoid all the potholes in the road; and that if you’re a conscientious  parent, you’ll be able to protect your kids from all harm.  But the truth is that sometimes, despite our best efforts, difficult things happen.  Life is anything but a linear equation.  Though we like to think of it as a classroom, it’s a lot more like a football field, where adversity can rise up without warning.


Though we aspire to carve out an existence filled with glorious highlights, it is how we respond in those difficult moments that ultimately defines us.  We can get angry, or become frustrated, or live in denial, but that only increases the struggle.  Even in times of  profound trouble, there is beauty, and meaning, and life to be mined.


In the last 36 hours, we’ve watched our kids have both highlights and crushing moments on the field.  We’ve had people rally around us and have suffered unexpected setbacks.  But tonight, as my head rests on the hard vinyl of a hospital couch, I find myself feeling grateful.


Grateful for my amazingly strong son, who was more worried about letting his team down than the seriousness of his injury; who insisted on sending out a video to let friends and family know that he is OK; and who, in a drug induced state, felt the need to thank all the doctors & nurses for their good work.


Grateful for the family, friends, church, school, and community that have been so loving and supportive.  Thankful for teammates & coaches & youth pastors & dear friends who came to see Pat; and for all the great care he’s received from the staff at the hospital.  More than anything, I am grateful for Gods nearness, especially in times of trouble.  In the non-linear equation that life can be, He is the variable that makes it all work.


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Purity is forged in the fire of adversity.

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