It seems this week has brought more than the usual portion of trouble- personally, locally, nationally- and I might be tempted to have a small pity party if I did not keep one foot firmly planted in the past. My research of Caddo history is a constant reminder that times have always been troubling and people have endured. And most people have endured far more than I have. No matter what happens to me or to my loved ones or to my friends or country, I can find a similar problem in the past. And while that doesn’t eliminate my problems or even lessen the pain sometimes, it does put things in perspective and help me understand the “big picture”. I think that one of the worst feelings you can have is that you are alone with your problems and that no one else cares about you or understands what you are dealing with. Knowing what my ancestors endured helps keep me grounded and makes me feel like a part of a larger tribe that will go on to influence future generations.
God never promised us that all of our days would be filled with comfort and ease. He did promise that we could find joy in our life, despite less than perfect daily circumstances. However, some folks make themselves miserable by expecting their lives to be the exception to everything, by expecting happiness to be a right instead of a privilege. Happiness feels good and we are certainly a “feel good” society.
I suppose our craving for happiness begins in childhood. Parents tend to smooth the path and help children avoid unpleasant and painful experiences if they can do so. I’m not so sure that is always wise. Some of the best lessons are learned by having a painful experience, learning how to deal with it, and feeling confident about facing the next problem. Of course the trick is deciding what a child can handle, so once parents start protecting their children from physical pain it seems logical to expand to emotional pain as well, and pretty soon you can get a child who is “carried around on a pillow” as Gran was fond of saying. I watched yesterday in the cafeteria as a child dropped his milk carton and then stood frozen in place waiting for an adult to pick it up. He made no attempt at all to solve the problem on his own. And unfortunately someone quickly solved it for him.
I am praying this week for wisdom and patience, for a friend who is watching her mother’s last days, for a friend who is battling cancer, for a friend who has serious decisions to make, for a community that is feeling despair, for a country that has lost its vision. I don’t have the answers for our troubling times, but I know they are balanced by the joy of knowing we are never alone.