Sunday, May 4, 2008

Making the best of things

Just about everything I ever really needed to learn, I learned from poor examples.

There’s no nice way to say it, but it’s true. I could regale you with the intricacies of those sometimes-painful lessons, but I’ll bet you’d have a number of your own stories to tell. Many of those life lessons were acquired in unhealthy relationships, and I’m not just talking about romantic interests—I’m referring to all relationships: with fellow workers, friends, mentors, family members, everyone. And a lot of those lessons about how not to behave have been learned during trials—my own and other people’s.

Now, the Bible is pretty clear about identifying trials as blessings (James 1:2-3 and James 1:12 address this). I’m usually not able to embrace that interpretation, at least not in the midst of the trial itself. But I have to admit that after the fact, a broader view of what’s occurred sometimes minimizes my tunnel vision; then I can begin to see blessing woven into the disappointment, shortcoming, or even heartbreak. However. I have a long way to go in this “trials are blessings” department; most of us do.

Why am I addressing this? I’m not really in the midst of any trauma right now. But I have a friend who was, and has now begun to emerge on the other side—the victorious side. Watching her face a family member’s illness with unflagging grace and trust has been quite a lesson for me, and for everyone else who’s been privileged to witness their struggle.

And it’s such a joy, to learn from a person I admire. This woman and her daughter, God bless them, are one case where I’ve had to eat my words. I’ve had to admit that their honest but shining example has been far more instructive than all those negatives that preceded them. In my adulthood, I've seen ineffective and insensitive teachers, abusive and neglectful parents, lazy and careless co-workers… There's an ocean of people who will happily illustrate the wrong way to do things—but they all pale in significance when held up to a loving, faithful woman of true Godly character.

So, kudos to Shirley, and her daughter R. I wish you only great health and blessings to come. You’ve been through the valley; now feel the sun. Well done.

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