Recently, I was reviewing my past, thinking about choices I made, and I began to blame others for how some things had turned out. I blamed my parents for the decisions they made that affected my childhood. I blamed my school for the insecurities I felt, and how I never felt I was perfect enough to succeed in various areas. I blamed my church for attitudes I had about God that affected my relationship with Him.
Have you ever experienced some particular problem or pain that surprised you by how debilitating it was? Perhaps it was a sore toe or an earache that outwardly seemed small, but it made your day a major struggle. Then along comes someone who says, “I get infections in my ear all the time, and it’s uncomfortable but I don’t let it bother me. You just need to stay positive and keep going.” Well, though we do need to strive to “give thanks in all circumstances,”1 trying to keep your head above water may be difficult for you at these times.
One fine day, my wife and I took Kristen, our 13-month-old daughter, to the beach. It was perfect, beautiful weather. As we strolled down the sand, each holding a little hand, she excitedly smiled and chattered in that special encrypted language of hers.
In The Horse and His Boy, one of the seven novels in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, a boy named Shasta dreams of traveling to the unknown north, which turns out to include the magical land of Narnia. One night Shasta overhears the fisherman he has been led to believe is his father sell him to a noble from a neighboring kingdom. (We find out much later that Shasta had been shipwrecked as a baby and was found by the fisherman.)
A few months ago, on a muggy Saturday, our family made the much-anticipated trip to a big theme park. Our teenagers, undaunted by hot sun and crowds, were looking forward to a day adventuring on roller coasters and other adrenaline-surging rides, so as soon as we entered the park, we headed straight for the biggest, loopiest roller coaster of all.
I was sitting in a wheelchair in the lobby of the hospital, waiting for the taxi to come. My shoulder was still swollen from the operation, and my entire arm was mottled with black and blue marks.
To top it off, it was raining, adding to my dark mood. Great! Rain! I thought. Just what I need!
My husband and I recently found ourselves on our own again. After raising ten children over 40 years, I didn’t see this coming!
We’ve always been a close-knit family, but of course, as the children have grown up, one by one they’ve been moving on. I cried each time, as it felt like a piece of my heart was being torn away.
I recently saw this quote and loved its description of a family: “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
But families aren’t static. In fact, in our lives, one of the main things that changes as we go through the seasons of life is our relationships with family. As my three-year-old son recently said, “First, you are a boy, then you turn into a dad, then you turn into a grandpa.” Oh, for the simplicity of a child.
Since turning 70, I’ve been thinking more about the benefits of aging. Even though many of us who are getting older have already felt some of the disadvantages or difficulties, there are also many good things to be found in this stage of our lives. I want to explore a few of these with you by sharing some of my own thoughts and experiences. Of course, you may not be at the stage in life where these things apply to you personally, but you may be interested for the sake of elderly family members or friends.
Whenever I log in to Facebook or load a news website—or when I glance at the newsrack at the checkout—it seems there are always some really ugly things going on, and I find myself oscillating between anger and despair.
As I scroll through my social media feeds, there are comments like, “This is so sad!” or “I hate that this is happening!” While I agree with those statements, I can’t help but feel that they’re a bit useless. How does saying that we dislike catastrophic issues help the people whose lives are being turned upside down because of them?