The School of Hard Knocks
I absolutely love a good thunderstorm. And by ‘good’, I mean the kind that doesn’t produce hail, tornadoes, damaging winds, etc. I prefer the kind that includes medium dark clouds, the gentle roll of thunder and rain. There is something about them that make me want to curl up under a blanket and read a good book while listening to nature wash away my stress.
Most of my stress comes from the thunderstorms of life. I am really not a fan of those. In fact, there is nothing soothing or comforting about a life-storm. There is nothing romantic or renewing about the kind of storm that often includes people with differing opinions.
I feel as though I have been in that kind of storm lately as well as watching beloved friends in the midst of them. Everyone has something that is weighing them down. Some are worse than others and it breaks my heart.
One of the reasons I think there are so many life storms now is a ‘me’ centered view of the world. Our children have been taught that they can be anything, have anything, do anything and if anyone gets in their way squash them like a bug. Ok, maybe we don’t use those terms but that’s the gist of it. More and more I see people who aren’t wiling to work together, compromise, offer grace or just plain suck it up and deal with it.
I don’t know about you but there were plenty of times in my life where I had to take a class at the School of Hard Knocks. There were situations that didn’t even come close to working out the way I wanted and I actually had to suffer through the pain of disappointment. Often, the pain involved hurt feelings and scars that, although not visible on my skin, are thick with stories of all the times I didn’t get my way. Honestly, I hated every second of those classes.
I’m at an age where I look back on those experiences and I realize that my character was being shaped. By not getting my way, I was forced to shift perspective, change course or give up a fight. Along the path, I would see others going through it and I discovered that I had a tender heart toward them as well as a strong, deep desire to give them HOPE. Things will get better and the sun will come out again. I know this to be true because I have experienced it first hand.
Still, it feels as if people are picketing in front of the School of Hard Knocks and want it closed down for good. I see people doing everything they can to avoid taking a class there by focusing on self. They’ll do anything to avoid being in a situation where they are not in control. I think it’s some sort of protection/preservation plan. It’s just unfortunate that some of the greatest character lessons you will ever learn are in that school. I’m not sure avoiding it is healthy.
One of the best times of my life was when a hurricane hit our home in Texas. There was no doubt that the storm itself was scary and did some damage but it was after the storm that the miracles happened. All of my neighbors, most of whom I hadn’t met yet, all came together as a community to help clear debris, grill out food that would go bad from losing power, share their resources and practice kindness. Lifetime friends were made during that time and I wouldn’t trade anything for it. I didn’t love the hurricane but I certainly loved what came out of it.
Part of why I love a thunderstorm is because I know that I’ll appreciate the sunshine that comes afterward. The sun also comes out again after the thunderstorms of life. And if we are brave enough to go through them, to take the class at the hard knocks school, then we leave room for miracles. They aren’t easy, but they are worth it.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33