Three Things I Want My Girls to Learn About Pain and Suffering

Family Pictures 2012 240 edit

There are many times when I am not the mom I wish to be.

Beyond the fact that I’m just plain human, and I mess up on a regular basis, I’ve also been living with some physical challenges which hold me back from all I wish to be.

Although I’m doing much to improve my quality of life, and eliminate the amount of pain and suffering I carry with me, the fact remains that each and every day, my girls get front row seats to this “show” – my show of how I navigate a life of physical challenges.

I am fully aware that there are many people who suffer far more than I could ever imagine. In the big picture, the discomfort I experience is not that significant.

But in all honesty, the daily pain I experience can make me cranky at times. It tempts me to feel sorry for myself. It keeps me from bounding out of the house with unlimited energy and enthusiasm to spend time outside, or do all kinds of fun, adventurous things with my girls.

And it hurts my pride, because I never want people to pity me in my weakness.

So I used to wish it away. But I’m slowly changing my mind….

I don’t know if I will ever like experiencing pain and discomfort, but I have seen the results of it, and I really, really like those.

I have never met anyone who wished for more sickness, or more suffering. And yet, I have repeatedly come across amazing, joyful people with great spiritual depth who have pain and suffering somewhere in their life story, either past or present.

Struggles can bring such strength, if we let them, but who wants them?!

So as I live this life with difficulties I would never have chosen, how do I set a good example for these little girls who see it all?

How can I be grateful, each and every day for this life God’s given me?

If I can’t be the active, energetic wife and mom that I want to be, how can I be what God wants me to be, right here, right now, in the midst of the discomfort?

What is my life of pain teaching Anika and Kaylia?

1) Compassion for those who suffer.

Maybe having me as their mom will make them sensitive. Maybe the idea of people living with pain will be more present in their minds, and they will become aware of how to help others, to come alongside them in their pain. Maybe they will be more grateful for their own health, not taking it for granted, and allowing it to fuel their desire to help others.

2) Healthy choices for their future.

I spent many years making poor choices regarding exercise and diet.

When I was in junior high and high school, “sports” basically meant volleyball and basketball, both of which I couldn’t stand.

Turns out, I love yoga and cycling. But it took a major wake-up call for me to start exercising, and exploring what physical activity I enjoyed as an adult.

And food? Chocolate and carbs (ideally chocolatey carbs!) made up the majority of my diet in college. That same wake-up call got me eating peppers in every color, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers in astonishing amounts.

I hope that our girls will learn to enjoy physical activity, eating well, and taking care of their bodies much sooner than I did.

They may not – everyone gets to make their own choices, and I made bad ones for many years of my life. But I’m hoping that Anika and Kaylia will make healthier choices because it’s what they see every day, and they get the “before and after” – they see firsthand what happens when someone does not take care of their body.

John Maxwell shares about his heart attack in his book Make Today Count. It dramatically changed the choices he made on a daily basis, and I love the following quote:

…Men who survive an early heart attack (and learn from it) often live longer and healthier lives than those who never suffer a heart attack.(Maxwell, p.24)

Hardships can cause us to rise up. We can become stronger as we face difficult challenges.

If my health came easy, my girls would not get to see the choices I’m making in this difficulty.

3) Acceptance for whatever God allows into their lives.

Every day, my attitude says something to my girls. I know they can’t possibly understand what pain or discomfort I put up with, and I don’t want them to, but they will know how I choose to face the day.

Do I search for the joy in it?

Do I enjoy the little bits of progress I’m making?

Do I stop to notice the sunshine, and the colors of vegetables or the blue of the sky?

Do I look into my girls’ eyes and truly listen to what they’re saying?

Do I choose to have a good attitude again and again, even when I’m tempted to give up and feel sorry for myself?

I want to live this life well, whatever it holds.

I want my Anika and Kaylia to look back on our home as being a wonderful, happy place, and know that I chose to make it that way, even if it was difficult sometimes. (But I definitely have a lot of work to do in this area!)

In her book, The Resolution for Women, Priscilla Shirer writes,

…You can trust that He has planted you right now in the place where you will be the most personally productive. Even it you may not be inherently pleased with the person He’s made you to be, even if you may not be abundantly happy with the circumstances you’re currently living, you can be sure that God has planted you here with design and intention. He has selected the “soil” where you’re presently growing. Every kind of season and weather you experience has had to pass through His fingers before coming into contact with you. It’s all been divinely designed to surround you with the conditions that allow your unique gifts and abilities to reach maximum potential. To grow. To yield. To produce. ( Shirer, p. 56)

I want to live this life to the fullest – right here in my present situation. It doesn’t matter at all that I wouldn’t have chosen it – it’s what I get for right now.

I choose to accept and appreciate all that’s happened in my past.

I choose to embrace today.

I choose to work at making tomorrow different.

And even if it’s not different, I still want to choose a good attitude.

What impact will that have on my girls?

I have no guarantees, but it seems as though it should be a good one.

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What’s your area of difficulty and struggle? Are you learning from it? Any lessons you hope to pass along to those around you?

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And a quick reminder that you still have a few days to enter the draw for Priscilla Shirer’s book The Resolution for Women. Leave a comment about someone who inspires you. Who do you look up to you? Who do you admire, and why?

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10 thoughts on “Three Things I Want My Girls to Learn About Pain and Suffering

  1. I look up to Sherry, living back in Montana, who has been involved in missions and now trains, preps and writes to help others as they enter the mission field and deal with the challenges and adjustments affecting their families.

    • Thanks for commenting, Pam! I promised Anika she could pull the winning ticket for the draw, so she’s eagerly counting how many entries there are!:)

  2. Thank you for this post. I am currently working with a new health diagnosis that will be a life long challenge . I needed these words today as I struggle with my situation and making today count.

    • Laura, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ll be dealing with a life-long physical challenge. I’ll add you to my list of moms to pray for, who are all facing physical difficulties, while trying to be the best mom they can be!

      • Thank you for the prayers. (If you want more specifics for prayer then check out my FB statuses from the past two months) These new health challenges has made me stop and consider what is truly important and purposeful in our lives. Sometimes we get so caught up in doing the good things in life that the great things are lost or overwhelmed.

  3. You inspire me, Kendra (and I’m not saying this to suck up…honest!) You reach for Jesus and inspire me to do the same. You don’t compromise and stand firm on faith. I love that about you and have always seen this as a huge strength of yours. Thanks for your inspiration. And never stop writing. You have a gift.

    • Thanks, Julia. Your words are a blessing and an encouragement, which is just what I usually get from you, on a regular basis! My goodness, you’re the one who’s taught me what strength in hard times actually looks like. Thinking of you this Christmas…

      • Thanks Kendra. I suppose we’ve had the opportunity to teach each other many things over the years of our friendship? I love that. And thanks. Hard to believe it’s 10 years next week.

  4. Pingback: I Don’t Have Enough Faith | Ordinary Days

  5. Pingback: Things Are About to Get Crazy Around Here… | Ordinary Days

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