God gives us all by right 70 years, or so says the Bible. We can be cheated out of those years, or cheat ourselves with bad living, or because of a better managed government we might enjoy many more than 70. Life is a test, not to show God what we are made of. He already knows, but to show us.
Forgiveness first for others and then for ourselves. For some it is an extremely hard lesson. It’s best to learn this young so we don’t become embittered and contaminate our surroundings.
We must learn to keep our mouths shut and when; and when to open to speak, when to take on a problem and when to let it slide. We can’t fight every battle nor should we fold whenever life gets tough.
We must learn to prepare for the future both physically and mentally, to educate ourselves in the needful, but also in something artistic so we do not become hardened and legalistic.
We must learn the difference between patience and indulgence. Help yes, enabling no, but where is the line?
We will all have grievous times, loss, poverty, disappointment; we will all enjoy times of largesse. We must be sure not to think we are entitled to all of this. We are no more entitled to wickedness than we are to blessings. They simply come with the territory. If you seek Utopia you will be disappointed.
We have a very difficult lesson which usually comes when we are adults – the searing revelation that we have been lied to – big time – a system shock. I read a screed from a young Jewish girl about how the priests had lied, had not recognized Jesus as the Messiah. She was furious. But truth be told, those Jewish priests were in the dark just as much as she. We cannot know the ignorance of others. When we find out we have been deliberately lied to – well that is another matter and we are entitled to be enraged.
We learn to handle death, both of others and our own. Blame never moves the ball forward. In fact, you’ll never be able to enjoy life if you continually blame someone or something else.
You should also learn the self-satisfaction of a job well done. Work in and of itself is not a curse but a blessing especially if you are working for your own benefit or that of someone you care for. That is why government taxes provided for the poor mean so very little and cost so very much.
You must learn to both give and accept graciously. Mama was right; say please, thank you, I’m sorry and if you add Ma’m you will be thought to have good manners as well.
We must learn to be wrong, and to accept our failure. Too much energy is spent in self-justification. Learn from your faults and move on.
We are supposed to know all this before we die, lessons learned at random but essential for a balanced, contended life. Your lesson plan is provided by God. Jeremiah 29:11.
Someone told me there was no literature on this and asked me to write about my experiences since my first collapse was when I was 9 years old. When I was 44 it happened again and finally when I was 51. I never received any medical attention or sought any over these years. I just finally saw the pattern of my life and realized “Hey, I’ve been through this before.”
At 4, as an only child living in a house with my grandparents, I showed great musical promise and started lessons. Within a few years I was polished enough to enter a contest. The prize was lessons at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music available only to gifted students. My mother and grandmother decided nothing would do that I must win this, heading me to a music career.
I was lazy and unmotivated as most kids are, but it clearly was their agenda and not mine and like all children I wanted to be obedient or at least keep the peace. For months I was beaten, badgered and forced to practice long hours. It all came to a head in the spring when I had 2 violent, terrifying identical 2 nightmares in a row. A giant huge spider hovered over my bed and threatened to crush me to death. I never told anyone at the time of the dream. I don’t recall anyone much listened to me anyway.
Exhausted but ready, I did win this contest, beating out a 17 year old boy.
But the victory was pyrrhic, not for me, but for my family. I remember thinking, and can recall it today, ‘well, this is their contest, they won it and they can have it.’ I vowed never to take an interest in music or anything else they could ruin. I went to the conservatory but soon left as my teacher saw I was only going through the motions. I did this, of course, to avoid additional beatings.
I emotionally divorced my family at that time. I remember standing in the middle of the living room when I was 15 thinking, I am going to have to raise myself. Of course I was not doing all that great a job at it, but I knew I was little more than an actor in someone else’s drama. BUT, I did learn some work standards. I married as quickly as possible and left home.
Now we jump to when I was 44. I had been working night and day, trying to save my marriage, and completely unaware of what was happening. My husband’s business was in a state of disrepair, he eventually had to close it, and he was living almost entirely off my inheritance and alcohol. I received not a dime of this – nor from his earnings for 9 years. I guess that lesson of sticking to the bitter end I had learned as an elementary student.
I was doing everything in my power to keep the family in tact, and so the money was not important. At least not until I had this epiphany, “He married me for my money and when it was gone so was he.”
Things came to a head in November of 1982 when he got dead drunk and tried to seduce an acquaintance at a party. The poor woman was terrified. I realized this 26-year marriage was over.
I went into some sort of mental state where I just “did” what I knew to do. God showed me the giant black spider was my baby grand piano on which I had practiced so many hours. And here I was, back in this situation again. Every bit of energy and hope had drained away. This is the point where people ask me, what did you do to change things.
First I did not go to a doctor. I avoided them at all costs. I believed as a child that adults were not my friends and not on my side. I never really got over this.
But my daughter was getting married and I needed to sew a dress. It was quite a complicated pattern with a difficult lined collar. The more I worked on this (and mind you I have no real talent in sewing) the more I got some of my personality back. The wedding was a success but that marked the end of my marriage for good. When people ask “Can this marriage be saved?” I can guarantee you the question comes way too late for the couple.
The same thing happened again in 1989 when I was overworked to the point of exhaustion, and life piled in on me again. But this time I saw the pattern and just sat down in a rocking chair on my porch and looked at the Blue Ridge skyline. I ended up losing my home, but as a close buddy said, “You never lost your sense of humor.”
I’ve concluded, and you may have another idea, that satisfying work is the cure here. I was physically pressured beyond my limits. Apparently I have unlimited mental endurance, but not physical. I have learned to stop cold now when I feel my body failing under me.
I was the cause of my problems. I made 3 false assumptions. (1) that if I worked hard and pleased my parents I would be rewarded (2) if I worked hard I could save a marriage and (3) if I worked hard I could save my home.
I hope this helps someone else pull out of a breakdown. Don’t hit the bottle or the drugs. Sit in a chair and think about who and what you are. Whatever it is, it may not be what you thought. Then go on, take a better path, and rejoice in the end.