The Lies We Tell

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. The lies we blatantly tell to others. Those little half-truths that we convince ourselves to believe, that we try to influence others into believing as well. Words can be so deceptive. So smooth and yet so distorted. We find ourselves saying things like, it will be a good day tomorrow, and this is all going to get better; saying things like everything is going to be okay and the best is yet to come. And more shameful still: It can’t get any worse.

Tomorrow will be easier.

Really?

Are we so sure? Do we know it will be a better day tomorrow? And is everything really going to be okay? Do we know everything is going to get easier? That it really can’t get any worse?

Do we know this for sure?

He was in tears at my classroom door. It had been a DAY. Truly a day. A day of spills and messes and meltdowns and breakdowns. My patience had been tried. And there he stood in front of me, with tears in his eyes- apprehension written across his face. I was exhausted and spent myself and had my own set of problems that needed fixing. But I looked him in the eye and I said something I would later regret. I said, “It will be a better day tomorrow.”

I mean, really. Who am I to say?

In my experience, problems that need mending don’t just disappear overnight. Trouble doesn’t up and vanish, heartaches don’t just melt away like icy snowflakes on an outstretched tongue. We can’t make promises about tomorrow. We don’t know. We are not there yet. We haven’t got a clue.

And who are we to say what tomorrow will be?

All I know of tomorrow is I am not there yet. If tomorrow proves anything like today, it will bring with it laughter intermingled with challenges, tears and sorrow- a day of highs and lows. If it is anything like today, it will probably be hard.

I am driving in a rush from the rink to piano and then over to pick up Daughter at her school- a child whom I have failed to secure an after-practice ride home for, yet again (hoping in vain that Husband would have remembered- he didn’t). While I drive, I can feel the stress creeping up my back- pain spreading as muscles are clenched and knotted. I arrive late only to find that someone else has taken her home. A family friend. While I am relieved, I also feel shame for not having ‘dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s’. I should have made arrangements earlier. A good mother would have done better.

While I turn the vehicle around so as to return to my previous commitment, I hear a sound-bite from NASA archives come bounding across the airwaves. President Kennedy’s moon speech from September 12, 1962- on why America was making such efforts to land man on the moon and return him safely to the earth:

“Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

I am moved by the beauty and conviction with which these words are spoken, stunned also for moments as I assimilate the message. More sound-bites follow, which I cannot now remember, washing over me like anaesthetic. Numbing me. For all I can think about right now- can think in this moment- is the core of that moving message. Kennedy’s call for action. That is, we don’t choose to go bravely forward into the unknown, forging paths through the darkness, merely because it is EASY: we do so for the very fact that it is HARD. We do so for the reason that it is hard. We move forward toward the challenge seeking opposition- knowing in fact, that life without challenge is not really life. It is lifeless.

We choose to face tomorrow- and all the tomorrows after that- knowing they will be hard. Accepting that they will be hard. But bravely facing them anyway. Knowing we can face these challenges and hardships, these tests of our endurance: because we’ve proved we can already. We did them today. We CAN do hard things because we’ve already done those same hard things today. We’ve lived through, coped with and survived those hard things already and we know that we can face them again tomorrow.

And the tomorrow after that.

The challenge to live today so we can face tomorrow is one we must accept- for if we are willing to live our lives courageously- willing to live our lives fearlessly: we must live knowing that life is hard but also live knowing that life lived to the fullest is also a possibility. It’s possible to live life well and full even when it is hard. And we can win in the face of such tremendous odds, we can face this enormous challenge of tomorrow head on (and other challenges like it too) because this we know for sure: LOVE WINS. Love always does.  It’s the one surety.  And because love wins, so can we.

I rise early before day has even broken across the sky. Everywhere is blackness, everywhere is darkness. I stumble my way down the stairs toward the shower. The minutes and hours stretch before me like a blank slate. I have no knowledge of what will come. No guarantees that what I anticipate will actually transpire. All I know for sure is there will be hard things. I know this.

But I can do them.

{I Corinthians 13: 13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”}

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The joy of doing hard things…

Not quite sure how to feel about a twelve-year old son who now reads the Globe and Mail on his i-pod.  I am thinking that I need to daily start reading the newspaper just to keep up with his brilliant mind.  I don’t want it to come to the place where his mother knows less than he does.  Or maybe we have already arrived at that place.  He is telling me all the latest news from across the country as I arrange clothing in his drawers.

I am thinking, as I find a place for faded jeans and well-worn t-shirts that we are heading into new terrain with our boy- with the issues, discussions and conversations we have been having lately.  This morning, my boy was nervous about junior high school try-outs for soccer.  I urged him to give it a try, adding that it wouldn’t be half as bad as what he was conjuring up in his mind.  He was nearly making himself sick with worry.  I figured that since he was imagining the worst, that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as he might think.

Well.  I am losing my sixth sense, me thinks.  He came in the door at 5:00 p.m., tears brimming in his eyes.  Then he said, “Mom, it wasn’t at all as bad as I thought it would be.  It was worse.”

Sucker punch to a mother’s heart.  Since I had been the one prodding him to attend try-outs, I was the one who felt responsible.  And the one who should have had the instinct to know how it would all play out, right?

A hug can sometimes be a salve, and other times just be felt as an irritation.  Today, it was the right fit.  I grabbed him and gave him a heartfelt, albeit awkward as I was only able to hug him from one side around the neck, hug.  It was the right move.  He took it as an open-door to talk about just exactly how horrible, embarrassing and intimidating the practice actually was.  How big the other boys were.  How fast they could run.  How deep were their dives toward net  How wide their arm span.  And as he talked, I watched the stress dissolve and his face relax.  It was like relaying a bad dream.  In the talking about it, the monsters did not seem half so scary.  And the more he talked, the easier it was for him to admit that it was okay to not have made a lasting impression on the soccer coach.  He was going to move on gracefully.  Unscathed.

In spite of the humiliation he felt today, I am glad he went to that try-out.  If only for the fact that he proved to himself that he can do hard things.

And that is what it is all about now, isn’t it?   Doing hard things.   And while doing things that are difficult  is both probable and possible in the real world in which we live, when we believe we can do hard things, we really can.