None of us are exempt from encountering trials and tribulations in this world. We are not living in paradise, utopia or seventh heaven. Though personal contentment is plausible, it gets interrupted when the unexpected occurs.
The Greatest Disruption
Though my life as a kid was not perfect the imperfections were tolerable because my family was intact. Both parents were alive, at least for a while.
When I was around the age of nine or ten, I became aware of the tension that, at times, arose between my parents. I witnessed, more than once or twice, my Mom’s anger toward Dad and then Dad’s anger toward one of my siblings. These scenarios were uncomfortable for me to witness, and at the same time, they gave me a glimpse into the imperfect world of my parents and their personal battles.
As much as I saw Mom longing for Dad to change his ways, no amount of foot stomping, finger pointing, or yelling altered his mind. As much as my father longed for my youngest brother to stop wetting his bed, no amount of shoulder shaking, shaming or midnight trips to the bathroom altered him either. Both of my parents were, at times, powerless and feeling powerless produced anger in both of them it seemed.
Then factor in the alcohol. Though no one ever said that Dad was an alcoholic, Dad had made a choice at some point in his life, to take alcohol as his “medicine.” Whatever nameless battle that roared inside his head, was somehow silenced, for a period of time anyway, by the liquid that came from a bottle labeled “Whiskey.” Whiskey was a temporary solution for an ongoing wrestling match with an invisible opponent.
Mom fought her battles differently. Her words could cut, slice and dice a person, even as large as my father, down to minimal size. Perhaps by cutting someone down to a smaller size eliminated her fear of losing control of a situation.
My parents never shared with me the reality that drove these behaviors I observed. These are my personal guesses. I was just a kid who noticed that even adults were not exempt from struggles and suffering.
After Dad ended his life, my own personal suffering began. How was I supposed to live after such a tragedy, especially when no one called it a tragedy? How was I supposed to process my grief when no one offered help along the way? I was on my own, learning to simply survive after a suicide, with little to no experience at such a thing. It is a wonder I lived.
I am sure that my teenage years and early adult life would have been different if Dad had lived. I imagine the stupid choices I made would not have been quite as asinine. Yet, those years of desperation, of attempting to find solid footing, a sense of personal peace and equanimity within my world were exactly what I needed. Those crazy chaotic years were like having a personal trainer. As painful as grief and sadness, confusion and powerlessness, anger and rage were, wrestling with them brought me to discovering Who and what I needed; a personal acquaintance with a personal Savior.
Why bother noticing your struggle? We cannot dodge the suffering that interrupts our contentment. But we can choose what we do when distress arises. The choices may be many, but there is only One reliable one.