It is morning in my house. The smells of coffee, ribs in the smoker, fresh spring air from the open windows and earthy lumber from my new hardwood floor mingle with faint music coming from my daughters’ room. Birds welcoming the sun, dogs barking and the scratching of marker on a masterpiece of artwork that my 5-year-old son is busily creating for his kindergarten homework, give me a sense of order in the world. Everything around me in this snippet of time, in this single moment, is right. One would never guess that the world outside of this moment is in pure chaos. Death, fear, sickness, hording, needing, judging, arguing and distrust are easily found around any corner. At the same time the world is full of helpers and they are shining brighter than the chaos and bolder than the fear. Hard times bring out the core of people without a care for impressions it gives. There is no hiding who we are inside when the world falls down around us. It exposes strengths and weaknesses for all to see and if we take the opportunity it can allows us a glimpse of something inside of us that we can work on and might never otherwise have a chance to see.
I have always been fascinated by watching people and how they respond to stimulus in their environment. Watching those rare souls that rise to the challenge and truly shine under pressure has always caused me to wonder at them and the circumstances in their lives that have brought them to the place that allows them to respond in a way few can. Out of this crisis that we are enduring not just as a country or a continent but as a species, will rise many of these souls from the fire that stand above the rest as pillars of strength and hope in a trying time. It is easy to focus on the hard parts of this pandemic and to lament the fates of our friends and family but at the same time I am looking forward to hearing the stories I know are coming. The stories of sacrifice and courage, the stories of endurance and the backgrounds of those who are the heroes of these stories. These background stories of those everyday heroes that live among us are the fuel that I use to drive myself. I know I have so many weaknesses and learning from these people that set aside their own desires for the good of those around them is the ultimate place to find the answers to the questions I have about my own weaknesses and shortcomings. I have so much to learn and what better place to look than those who are living at the peak of human potential of heart.
We are creatures of habit and seekers of comfort from the moment we are born. We want to be held, fed, loved and cared for and as we age the realization that life is not always comfortable and perfect hits us all at a different rate. Some of us find this out quite young and life throws us into the fray early. Others of us are somehow sheltered from some of the harsh realities of life for longer. It seems desirable to avoid as much pain and hardship as possible but the older I get the more I realize that the true value in life is in the hardship because that is where the valuable lessons lie that grow us to our full potential and help us realize the greater purpose and meaning of life. It is so incredibly difficult to watch our children suffer in any way. It is one of the hardest things that I do as a person but I have come to realize that the suffering of the world that my children endure is creating a strength in them that they cannot obtain any other way. As we navigate hard things, we can watch for chances to glean from these lessons and allow ourselves and our children to grow through them. It doesn’t make the suffering any easier to get through but it makes the end so much more rewarding and hopefully in the future it allows us to endure challenges better and be able to rise to challenges in a way where we have enough left over of ourselves to help others.
I remember watching my parents as they went through difficult times during my childhood. I watched how they responded and I watched them grow. I know that my children are watching me and I can only hope that I lead them in a direction that helps them someday when they are leading their own children through hardships. When they watch me, I know they will see both success and failure in my responses. When I fail, I can choose to use that as an opportunity for my kids to see me properly respond to failure or waste it. Every single way that we choose to respond to the crazy things that the world throws at us can be an opportunity to teach whether good or bad. I hope that during this wild time my children can see their mom value the things that really matter, love and give freely of herself to others and learn from my mistakes with humility and an open mind. Yet again I have been given a chance to grow by the world and I won’t let it go to waste. This pandemic is painting a portrait of who we are in our hearts and I will study the finished product to find where I can improve and be thankful for the strengths I have already had the chance to build from this crazy thing we call life.