Is the Hard Way the Only Way?

Life on this earth can be truly harrowing and horrifying. Every day we witness all sorts of terrible things happening all over the world. So much suffering. Why is that? It’s at least in part because no matter how hard those who bring us up try to make us learn from their mistakes, it rarely works. We have to make our own choices and our own mistakes. It seems that pain and suffering is required to chisel out the person we were meant to be.

My parents tried to create this bubble where everything was so tightly controlled that nothing bad would ever happen. This is why, when I was a child learning the Old Testament, I couldn’t absorb the violence of the stories. The matriarchs and patriarchs encountered treachery, betrayal, immense sorrow and troubles. I couldn’t assimilate this information because it didn’t fit in to my stunted world view.

It’s only now that I’m learning that the best gift a parent can give a child is not to shelter them from every possible scrape and beyond. The best gift is to show, by example, that no matter how challenging life gets, you get through it with those you love and who love you. And even if that child grows up and becomes isolated for whatever reason, they will have developed the self-confidence and equanimity that truly wise parents can impart by example. I had no such example. My life was ruled by fear of the unknown.

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