21 October 2010

Reality Check

One of the cool things about life is that you never know how you will be pleasantly surprised. Recently I have met a number of people who've taught me a lot and I'm really glad they did. When you're a kid you assume your life is normal and everybody else's life is like yours, right? Well these people have reminded me that, not only was I incredibly sheltered and lucky growing up, but that human nature is amazingly resilient, and I should be very grateful for what I have because lots of people have had things worse. I really admire the courage I heard in their stories.

One was a guy in his mid-60's who was an alcoholic by age 16 despite a strong Lutheran upbringing. Never went to college, kinda drifted through life without any real sense of purpose. Divorced, second wife died. Abandoned his faith for many years. Now he's trying to find it again. He never lost the sense that God was there and loved him, but he's still not figured out what his life's purpose is. He seems determined. I admire his tenacity; it's hard for me to imagine going through much of a lifetime without any clear goals or understanding of what you are meant to be. And being an alcoholic at age 16? Wow. He's weathered a lot.

Another was a 40-something Mexican woman, one of 12 children who grew up in Tijuana with an abusive father and a distant mother. Staunch Catholics till they moved across the border and parents stopped going to church. Dad gone almost all the time working, drunk and physically abusive when he was home. Some of the kids kept going because it was their only source of stability in life. A tough life got even tougher for this woman when she realized she liked girls, not boys. She married, regardless, had a daughter. Then divorced. She's a teacher and lost her job, hasn't been able to find permanent work for a while. Her life is very difficult, but she persists in looking for work and retains her faith and hope that things will get better.

I felt a little ashamed after hearing these stories, ashamed at how easily I forget how lucky I am, even with the challenges I face. I was glad for the reality check these two friends provided. They could have given in to a victim mentality and blamed others for their unhappiness, which would have made them even more miserable and kept them stuck and unable to move on with a happy life, but they chose not to. Good for them. Attitude is everything, and theirs is really good despite their challenges. I felt fortunate to hear their stories and to see their faith that God had cared for them through it all.

1 comment:

Lisa said...


i get this reality check...a lot. especially lately.

i may complain a lot, but sooner or later i'm reminded that i'm extremely blessed.

it's a good thing to remember.