20090715

Life's lessons

When i joined the Maryland Army National Guard back in 1986 i was not a Christian. My mother had tried to provide Christian influences in my life, but at that point that it had not taken hold. I was not on a good path. I rarely held a job for more than three months, i didn't really care about anyone other than myself, and i lived on the generosity of others. While the Navy tried to recruit me i bailed on them the night before i was to ship out ~ which was pretty typical of me back then actually, but for some reason i joined the Army National Guard. Although i had pretty much lived on my own since i was sixteen, i had always had some form of help in that someone else manged the household did a lot of the chores, etc. So when i shipped out to Fort "Beginning" in Columbus Georgia i was on my own for the first time. While i was not scared i was... concerned. I was not sure what i was going to face. At some point i saw this little plastic card (same size as a credit card) that contained a condensed version of the "Serenity Prayer":
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
I put it in my wallet and it remained there for many years after i graduated from the training. i feel in many ways it set a foundation for my adult life. I am a firm believer in personal accountability. I feel that just because a person is under-privileged, it does not give them a right to take or do things that are not theirs. I also know that i cannot stop some things from happening in the world. But if i get bent around the axle for worrying or complaining about things i have no control over, i will lose focus and not take care of the things i can control. Yesterday i stumbled across yet another piece of flair on facebook. I am unsure of the originator's original intent, but the following thought came to mind."Yes, but they develop character... no one makes it through life without them (scars), and we need to spend more time learning from them than trying to avoid them altogether ~ scars can, and should be, reminders of the experience and the lesson learned from them." When my beloved was pregnant with our first son we were sitting in church one Sunday, holding hands, when i felt her turn my hand over. I looked over and she was carefully studying my hand. I asked, "what are you doing"? She replied, "I am trying to see what i am in store for". 8) (I have quite a few scars on both of my hands, as well as on other parts of my body.) I almost snorted out loud. No one can prevent bad things from happening to ourselves, nor as parents can we protect our children from everything. Instead we need to take the time to learn and teach from such things. "That which does not kill you makes you stronger" is a valid statement if understood in this context. I have a two scars on my index finger of my left hand (just to limit this example). One is a pretty ugly crescent shape from where a pocket knife slipped from the box i was cutting open - but instead of cutting away from myself i was pulling the knife towards myself. When the blade sprung free from it's resistance (the cardboard) it coat my finger and filleted that bad boy wide open. What did i (re) learn? Cut away and always keep in mind how much force is being used. The second is on the very tip of my finger, but you can only see half of it. Why? Because the other half is underneath my finger nail. I was trimming the hedges of my landladies house when a bee decided to buzz me. Without thinking i swatted at the thing, taking my left hand off of the handle - but failing to disengage the motor on the trimmer. You can probably picture the rest. What did i learn? I learned that i need to be more mindful of the power tools i am using. To always disengage the motor when i am no longer paying attention. Sounds pretty simple right? And yet i continue to make mistakes over four decades on in my life (these two where when i was in my late teens). And these are only two examples of the many, many other scars i have. My point is this. No one gets it right all the time and sooner or later you are going to have scar to show for your efforts (both physical and/or mental). Some of those scars are not of your own making. Don't use them to make excuses. Use them to learn from, to grow with. You can learn a lot about yourself when you take the time to realize your limitations and then learn how to over come them. Here is the "Serenity Prayer" in full:

Full Original Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen
I am eternally grateful that God bears the scars of the payment for my ultimate failures. I often picture myself standing before Christ on "that final day"... after i have He helps me compose myself and stand up after falling to my knees... asking to touch the scars on his wrists and side ~ just as Thomas did. What a lesson there is to learn there...

2 comments:

Ms. Coffee said...

Yes I think we all have scars. Some of them can be seen and some - can you can not.

There are many things in life we can learn from the question is do you take the chance to learn from it or not?

Typically I attempt to learn from it but a lot of times I think I have learned my lesson only to find - I have yet another less to learn!

Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Great post, Samurai. Scars do tell stories...valuable stories. Thanks for not keeping them to yourself :-)