Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What Makes Us Stronger

I came across this post today that I think is worth sharing. It was written for a newsletter by AdvoCare's Ron Reynolds, who is also a US Air Force Veteran, aerospace engineer, and author.

Ron provides insight on how the challenges we face as children and adults actually enable us to grow to become much stronger than if we weren't exposed to it or were too protected from it. Word! 

There's a growing movement underway in our country that seems to have come from those who are inclined to want to protect us from ourselves and who want to pass any imaginable law that will make all of us more equal. The movement I'm referring to actually began several years ago; some parents got together and their cause was to change the grading system in the elementary school systems so that no child would receive a lesser "grade" that might make him or her feel inferior. After all, a child who becomes "damaged" by such life experiences may well carry those scars with them for their entire life, and how fair is that? These are probably the same people who allow their children to run and scream in restaurants and airports and other places, because to discipline them would do harm, and no responsible parent wants to do that.

Now, I understand the love of a parent and how we want to hover over our sons and daughters, and that's as it should be. But to "hover" to the extent that you will go to any length to shield kids from the negatives of life is to do them a disservice that won't become apparent for many years; sooner or later, the protected child will go into the world and become exposed to setbacks, disappointments, failures, threats, intimidation, performance evaluations at work, unfairness and insult, and they will be disarmed and unable to cope with such experiences. Some people will even send your kids "negative" e-mails.

I don't know about you, but as I look back over my years and all of the negativity I encountered - and there was lots of it - each one forced me to grow; they forced my brain to wire itself in such a way that over time, I would learn from those bad experiences and become strengthened by them, not diminished by them. I have a memory of being put on the porch of my grandmother and left there, because my parents decided they weren't ready for the responsibility I represented. As a few years passed, I looked with confusion and emotional trauma why it was that everyone else had a father and mother and I didn't. As more years passed, I came to understand, and it drove me to a level of understanding that it was my duty to make a place for myself. No one protected me; no one went to the school and appealed for me to get extra care and protection.

Later in life, I became a distributor in a direct sales company; within a few weeks, my sponsor quit, and there weren't any distributors between myself and the company, so whatever was to be was up to me. And, I think that if someone had protected me from all the adversities of life when I was much younger, my brain would have continued to "wire itself," but in much more of a dependent way. The officials in my school told me that when I grew up and went into the labor force, that I should not take any position that required writing, because I was the worst writer they had ever seen. Now, you may be one who will agree with that, but even if you do, it doesn't matter. What matters is what I think of me and how I am; what matters is what I choose to do about the bad things that happen - it's not "what happens," it's what those things force us to become that counts.

We all have the choice of our own approach to life, but for me, I'm grateful for the exposure to challenging situations that were part of my experience. God always has a way of fitting the back to the burden, so if you want a stronger back, you have to carry a heavier load. Be careful of those who seek to take care of you, lest your caretaker become your jailer.

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