Regardless of the smack’s type, it gets your attention.
As an introvert in every sense of the word, I often get lost in the wonder of why life’s most profound moments smack most of us with the force of a sledgehammer. I certainly don’t know the answer for you. For me, however, I get smacked the hardest by situations I take for granted.
For instance, our third child recently headed off to Kindergarten. I’ve known this milestone was coming. It’s been something I secretly imagined for years.
Yet, the moment I sat down to read him all the wonderful notes his kind teacher sent in the mail, I got smacked.
Suddenly, I couldn’t finish the words in her exciting poem about the joys of leaving mom and dad in order to experience a new world. I couldn’t look at him without trying to soak up every single detail of his changing and growing little face.
The rational me is appalled at the gravity I find in this situation. The emotional me—which pretty much dominates everything I do—can’t believe I have actually taken the past five years for granted.
Instead of a sweet, playful baby who loved to snuggle, play tractors and read, our middle child is a little man who loves to wrestle, dig in the dirt and work just like the big boys. He reads to his little brother. He’s grown big enough to strong arm his older siblings. He enjoys cooking exotic suppers (think mixing up whatever’s left in the refrigerator) and hanging out with his Uncle Clay.
Just like that, my husband and I are sending him off to be influenced, molded and guided by a whole bunch of people and standards we can’t control.
Yep, I got smacked by a beautiful reality.
Our four children have been given the opportunity to grow to great heights, enjoy milestones many children never reach and flourish in the care of many who love them. And in the midst of that beautiful reality, I find a strange sense of sadness and guilt.
You see, as I’m tearing up at a ‘normal’, exciting milestone, I can’t help but think of all those times I, or ones I love, have been smacked by much harsher realities.
In April, four young men—four shining stars—died in an unimaginable plane crash. In June, a well-known showmom and ag advocate succumbed to the devastating diagnosis of Cruzefeldt-Jakob’s Disease. Each day, my social, respected, intelligent grandfather falls deeper into the horrific grip of Alzheimer’s.
These situations smack us. They hit us hard and rock our worlds because we take youth, health and time for granted. These life events are not ‘normal’. They are not how we have each come to expect life to be. Yet, at the end of each day, these events are how life is.
While I prefer the normal of my oblivious comfort zone, I refuse to let all of life’s smack-downs pass without learning.
Life is short. It is precious, and the only absolute guarantee we have is one of unpredictability.
Tiny children should not bury their fathers. Young brides should not bury their grooms. Brilliant minds should not fall silent in a dark abyss. But, they do.
Each of us has a profound opportunity to grow when life smacks us. The growth process won’t be easy; there’s a solid chance it will hurt like hell. But, in the end, when our lives reflect through the memories in our hearts, we can rest peacefully knowing we gave it our best.
For those who have gone before we were ready to let go, God-speed and rest peacefully. For those left to grow and change, God bless and good luck.