Simply stated, life happened. My grandmother died five and a half years later, and Granddaddy passed a little less than two years after her. That was the first crack in my perfect, sheltered life, quickly followed by the bumps and bruises of the rest of reality. By high school, I came to the realization that this little sweetheart was going to have to toughen up if I didn’t want this world to eat me alive. I couldn’t go on like that in my naive little world, or I’d be a victim of life – and I didn’t want that. If I really wanted to have and enjoy life, then I was going to have to get used to the fact that there was a dark side to it, and learn how to deal with it.
I don’t blame anybody for this. My grandparents passing was the catalyst for me going from that sweetheart to the tougher cookie that I now am, but the truth is that it couldn’t have come out if it wasn’t already in me. I used to think that life was gentler with some people, but as time passed I realized that it rains crap on all of us at one time or another, and the difference is in how we choose to handle it. I didn’t want to live frozen in that moment by my grandmother’s grave when my idealistic view of life was shattered. There was too much ahead of me, and I wanted it to be the best – but having that best meant that I had to learn how to deal with the worst. Simply stated, I had to grow up. And given that we don’t talk about some things, I felt I had to figure it out on my own. Was that a correct assumption? Probably not, but that’s what I saw others doing, so it was a logical conclusion that I needed to learn this skill myself in my 12 year old mind.
I don’t think there’s any way I could have become what I envisioned myself being back then, because the world has changed too much and life isn't what I thought it was. I’d call myself lucky to have a good enough childhood that I was able to enjoy peace and joy during my childhood, because too many people have to grow up too fast by seeing the hurt of life too young. But you can’t escape reality forever, and I’m glad that I realized early on that I didn’t want to spend life hurting. I knew there was plenty of good beyond the bad because I had seen it. In time, I learned that life is both beautiful and ugly, and the secret to happiness is knowing how to deal with both.
I recently ran across 1 Corinthians 15:10 in my daily Bible reading, where Paul writes that “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” I noted in my Bible “this should be true for everybody.” No, I’m not what I thought I’d be, but then again sweethearts don’t write scifi. It seems that somewhere along the way, I learned how to make the ugly parts of life good for something. Sometimes, you have to get over yourself, be bold enough to claim your pain, and make it good for making a better life.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.