Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now or Later?

The summer before 6th grade was pretty exciting. I was going to be starting Middle School and I was about to hit the big time. Our middle school was the combination of students from two different elementary schools. I had been in the "cool" group of girls at our elementary school and was excited to meet the cool kids from the other school. When the first day of school came I saw that many of my friends has classes with the other cool girls. Perfect, I thought, we'll just blend together and be one big happy family. Well something happened. . . I don't know what exactly, but for some reason I wasn't jelling with these new girls. By the end of the first week it was clear that I was no longer in the cool kids club. The new girls deemed me an unfit addition to their clique and that was it. My former friends didn't make any plea on my behalf. I was done. I was stripped of my popularity crown with no explanation and relegated to the unfamiliar territory of Nerdsville. And in typical mean girl style, these girls made their feelings for me known. It was a tough year, but I also learned a lot. I learned not to care quite so much about what other people thought...I still cared, just not as much. I found new friends and moved on. By the end of middle school things began to mellow out with the cool girls and they started to see me in a different light. When high school came around I was no longer labeled the nerd that I had been in 6th grade. I wasn't the Homecoming queen either, but I felt pretty good and comfortable with my social standing. However, I noticed that while I was finally making a comeback from being a nerd, others were just getting their first dose. It seemed that some of the cool kids in middle school were no longer holding their title in high school. I remember thinking it was only fair. We all had to go through our tough times...sure I was a nerd in middle school, now it was their time to be a nerd. You're gonna have hardship in this life, so does it really matter when?

It seems it does matter. Most people would rather be moving up as time goes by. You don't want to peak in high school (or middle school for that matter) and always look back at those years as being the best years of your life right? I know it's not that black and white. I know for most of us, happiness and sorrow will rotate throughout our lives... but it seems to me, that if people could choose they would choose to have the hardest times of their life when they're younger and the happiest time come sometime after that. Maybe not...but consider the following example.

I can think of 2 different people who went through very difficult times in their lives, but for one person it was early in life, for the other it was later. My grandpa is the first. He grew up a poor farm kid. His parents both died in his early teens. He was a high school drop out. He got married young and went off to war. WWII was a terrible experience for him. He saw many people killed and was wounded in battle himself. After the war he came home to a wife that no longer loved him. She left him for another man and took their two kids with her. Sad story right? Well, my grandpa goes on to meet my grandma and marry again. He goes back to school and becomes an eye doctor and opens a successful practice in a small town. They have 3 children. I would say he died a happy man. The next story is about my husband's grandma--who I've never met since she died before I came along. I don't know much about her childhood, but I believe it was a happy one. She was very beautiful and was a model during the 1940's and 50's. She then marries a doctor and has 9 children. She even continued to model as an adult. They lived a very comfortable lifestyle. Then, at some point in the middle of those 9 children she is diagnosed with MS. She had her last 2 children from a wheelchair, as I understand it. Then her husband leaves her... for another woman. Not only has she lost her husband, but the financial security that comes with being married to a doctor. I don't know whether or not she died a happy woman, but I don't believe physical and financial circumstances improved much the rest of her life. I know she could have still been happy, but my point is this. . . because the trials and hardships of her life came later, are we more likely to see her life as sad? Is it fair to characterize one's entire life not just by the circumstances that come to them but also by the timing of those circumstances? Is it because of the seeming finality of death? The assumption that if you die in the midst of painful circumstances you will forever be in pain? If it were you, would you take your allotment of pain now or later?

8 comments:

  1. Can God read the comments on your blog? Cause there's no way I'm taking chances and answering this...hmnn...unless...

    I'd like to hope the tragedies of my early infancy and birth are behind me, and that the rest of my life continues unscathed. ;)

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  2. Oh, I like this post. Hmmm...that gives me some perspective on my recent trials...that maybe it's good I'm getting some stuff out of the way now. I think I would rather lead a happier life later. Granted, I feel at the same time that when you're young you're stupid and maybe couldn't handle what you could when you are older.

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  3. Broek--Good call... if you're afraid of a certain trial best not to vocalize it. :) Yes and lets hope you've payed your dues. . . of course there are always those lucky ones who seems to have it all one way or the other (easy peasy or trial after trial until the day they die).

    Beatrix--Good point. Often we can handle more the older we get. . . I have often felt as though my trials built on each other and got a little harder each time.

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  4. I think the one thing that we lose sight of (me first and foremost) is the blessings that come out of trials.

    It might seem like b's grandma went through some really tramatic things at the end, but on top of that she had 9 children who I bet were all there supporting and taking care of her and lived to carry on a legacy about her strength. (I could be wrong cuz I'm only seeing the initial part of the story.)

    Also, I think we see our trials as only effecting our lives, but that story shows that although she went through the actual physical trial, the children probably suffered through more -- being somewhat younger in their lives.

    I think our biggest trials aren't the physical handicaps or things that happen to us, but learning the lessons we think are so easy sometimes -- betrayal, forgiveness, anger. I'm not sure I could kiss Judas on the cheek and say 'I forgive you.'

    These are the things that were (and still are sometimes) more painful to deal with than the simple fact that after only 2 children, Matt left me for another woman. Knowing that one day when the kids are older and realize what happened (not that I will ever say anything, just Matt's new baby's birthday won't really leave many questions there) that I will have to be there and give them guidance on how to get through it. That is one of the hardest parts to endure.

    Although I do seem to have many conversations with God that go along the lines of "I know you don't give me more than I can handle, but don't you think this is enough for a bit?" Apparently, I still haven't reached his level of wisdom :)

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  5. sorry for being randomly long-winded!!! :)

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  6. Tiffany--I agree whole-heartedly. I am who I am because of my trials... I can honestly say all my trials have left me better off than I was before (I don't think that's always the case...that's another post for another time). However, regardless of how good they were for me, how much I grew from them they were still painful. There was still a part of me that wished I didn't have to go through them...and not a small part either.
    I also agree that coming to terms with the emotional impact of said trials can be the hardest. . . I don't know how I would begin to forgive in your situation. . . and of course the effects this will have on your children.

    I guess what I'm saying is that when I was young I thought "well I had my time, now it's yours..." But in reality, if I had to go through a situation like my grandpa or my hubby's grandma or you, I would rather it be NOW (while the children are young and somewhat innocent, before there were MORE children involved, while you still have time to "move on" and build another life for yourself, etc) because it just seems more fair to have the chance to "make things right" to bounce back and show the world what I'm made of. Even though with the gospel I know this life isn't the END having a spouse leave when your older and not really able to re-marry and find that happiness once again seems to leave such a sour feeling about that person's life as a whole. . . even if the other 75 years had been happy...and even with the knowledge that I would once again be happy. . . I don't know, it just seems that there is something about the timing of these things that can make it seem better or worse.

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  7. great thought provoking post. I actually went through a very similar experience in middle school. I have used the story many times while teaching young women and my own sixth and fifth grade students.

    I think I would rather have trials earlier so I could use them for strength in my later years. Going through them when you are older doesn't give you mush time to learn from them and gain strength. Although, as was previously mentioned, it allows those that are younger who are also going through it the chance to learn and grow through your trials.

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  8. Good point though too, Miggy, about how when getting older sometimes the trials seem to build on each other. I feel the same way and just hadn't really put it into words or thoughts. But I really am facing the same trials over and over again, they just are getting harder to get through with a clean slate because maybe I just haven't truly grasped what I'm suppose to learn? Who knows! ;)

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