“Mom, why is life so hard”? My 9-year-old son asked. I have to admit it was almost like my heart skipped a beat. My brain went into worry mode, what is going on in this little boys life that he would come to me with this question. Although my thoughts and my insides were a bit jumbled and I was taken aback, I took a deep breath and said, “Life is hard….isn’t it.” In the calmest voice I could muster…..with little reaction. Then I said the first thing that came to my mind, “I don’t know!, I’m sorry you are having a hard time.”
Time to think
I needed some time to think about his question. I wanted to give him a real answer that he would understand and relate to. But How? Do I even know why life is so hard? I can think back to all the times last week when in my internal dialogue I asked myself the same question. He continued on and let me see a little more of what is going on in his little heart. He said, “There are some kids at school whose parents are divorced, but they are happy about it. Most of them have a mom or a dad that is dead.” Although this additional information gave me some insight it also complicated things. My little boy is perfect and amazing and beyond wonderful. He deserved a good answer, but I didn’t have one.
Sometimes I hate that no matter how much time I spend thinking about my answer I know that it is so imperfect. I tried to put myself in his position and really empathize, but it is so hard when I have found an answer for myself, but explaining that answer to a child who is hurting. Hmmmmm….a little stumped. How could I explain that his pain will help him relate to others that are hurting……when today…right now…he is hurting.
How could I explain that his pain will help him relate to others that are hurting……when today…right now…he is hurting?
Each of his tears broke my heart. I wanted so badly to take away his hurt, but knowing that I can’t, I sat with him in silence as he cried.
How do I explain that his experiences are what will make him amazing? I decided that I needed to have a very clear description myself if I want to be able to break it down for him.
Explaining it to myself
Last week when I was in a slump of my own, not understanding why God gave me these trials. Not understanding why ‘Life is so hard’ I came across a quote that struck me like the sun’s rays and filled me. I felt the knowledge and wisdom of the quote seep into me and the spirit sealed the quote upon my soul as truth. It is from the book “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. She writes:
I know the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do. ~Corrie Ten Boom
What? My experiences… all of them….
…..being married to an addict for 19 years
……facing divorce and abuse
……struggles to blending a new family…..
If I let God use my experiences, they have prepared me for the work he sent me to do. WOW! All of my pain and suffering can become for my good and can bless those around me? I can use my wounds to help me do the work of God. I was amazed and I know that it is true.
The key is letting God use me.
How do I let God use me?
(Disclaimer: Some days I am able to do these steps and other days I can’t. I try to forgive myself when I am struggling and go back to the steps when I am able to. Lots of Self-Comapssion on this one)
Step 1: Recognize that what I have been through will give me skills that I need for the JOB. I strive to not feel sorry for myself, but see how my trials can be used for good.
Step 2: Recognize the gifts that I gained through the trial. This is key….it is often those gifts that we are meant to share, if we don’t know what the gifts are it is hard to share them.
Step 3: Listen and ask daily….God what would you like me to do today. (This one is hard for me, I am selfish and I always worry he will give me one that will take more time than I have. I need to trust him better.)
Step 4: If I have a feeling, or prompting…. no matter how weird it is, or how much it puts me out of my comfort zone….I try to follow it. (I don’t always succeed)
Step 5: Remember to love myself through the process….I won’t do it perfectly.
I realized that I can teach him these things. I can teach him all humans have to face hard things, things that hurt and make us sad. I can teach him that he is not alone. I can teach him that he will be given gifts as he learns how to work through hard things, and I can teach him the steps to let God use him.
So, Why is life so hard?
It is hard so that we can become more like God.
It is hard so that we can relate to others and have a real love of people.
It is hard so that you and I can be refined….our countenances will change as we become more like him.
When we see God again…he will recognize us because we will be more like him.