“bring the difficulties to God”
In 1996, TWA flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, shortly after taking off from JFK Airport in New York. 230 people were killed. A few years later, when the NTSB had completed their investigation, my brother-in-law (at the time) was one of the people on the team explaining to a congressional committee that it was not terrorism, but a short circuit in the fuel tank.
I watched on TV, from my home in California, as my brother-in-law did what was arguably the biggest thing he had ever done. But you know what else I was watching? My little girl ~ a toddler ~ learning how to go down our stairs the hard way. She’d been sliding down on her tummy, or bouncing down on her bottom for several months, and I stood by as she clung to the bars of the railing and managed her balance successfully.
I know some kids do this sooner than my girl did ~ my son did, to be sure. But she was talking sooner ~ and better ~ than he was at early ages, so it all averages out. I’m proud to say that today they can both speak wisely and intelligibly, and handle stairs with agility.
I thought about my brother-in-law, and my daughter, and marveled at what they were both accomplishing ~ each one courageous in their own way, as they achieved something new and difficult.
I’m thinking about that day again, as I pray for some of the people in my life, many of whom are tackling the most difficult, daunting thing they ever have.
~ My nephew, who started 5th grade this week. He is a high-functioning autistic (and an extremely high-functioning adorable) and every new year, with a new teacher and a new classroom, comes with special challenges for him.
~ My other nephew, 18, left for Air Force boot camp yesterday. I think it’s pretty same to assume the weeks ahead will be the hardest thing he has ever done.
~ A friend of mine has a close relative who has spent the past 67 days swimming down the Mississippi River. From its headwaters in Minnesota, his goal is to swim the entire length of it for a charity called Legacies Alive, honoring gold star families. It’s expected to take him until November, swimming between 10 and 20 miles a day. (Details at legaciesalive.com) He was a Navy Seal, so this may or may not be the hardest thing he’s ever done, but it’s gotta be right up there.
~ My daughter, and many of her friends ~ are starting college in the next few weeks. Some are staying at home going to community colleges, others are headed far from home. All of them are stepping into a new and scary situation.
Sometimes we’re surprised by the difficult things we face, other times we see them coming. But hard is hard. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? What are you doing today? Each of those people I’m praying for could look at one of the others and shrug at what they’re doing. What’s hard for one person would barely register for someone else. But each of us is on our own journey, and looking right or left is futile.
Well, maybe just look long enough to know what your neighbor is struggling through. Compassion is a good thing and can change our outlook on our own issues.
Hard things come with rewards, including ones we might not think about, like developing perseverance or gaining wisdom. He’s got what you need to make it through. Look up, and know you’re not alone.
~ “lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.” ~