What are some of the challenges you have faced in your life? Often times the things we have faced are part of what makes our story unique from another person’s. While we may confront similar hardships, no two people meet the exact same circumstances. The types and intensity of our difficulties typically vary too. For a child, hardships may be things like a spat with a sibling or a friend, struggling in school, or being upset over being told no by a parent. As we reach adulthood, our struggles likely grow to include things like money matters, job concerns, relationship troubles, and beyond.
Adversity is not always a pleasant or easy topic, nor one we frequently want to share with others. Even in my own life, when I think of the stories I heard my grandmother tell me, she typically did not focus on the negative. She shared the more positive things, such as in advancements going from a horse and buggy to seeing cars invented and eventually space shuttles putting man on the moon. In fact as I look back, a couple of stories that in her day would have been thought more scandalous for the family, were not even shared. It was only after her passing, and when I was older, that my father shared some of those memories with my sisters and me.
Throughout history there have been many periods of adversity that groups of people faced. Many people have fought to make a new way through immigration. There were people who lived through slavery and the fight for freedom. African Americans and women had to stand up for their right to vote. Our nation suffered through the Great Depression and other economic recessions. Many families have lived through wars and the hardships of rationing or having loved ones perish. Others have battled living with PTSD. In the 1960s there were terrific struggles during the Civil Rights movement. There have been great efforts with fighting diseases like AIDS. People still fight now to overcome all sorts of "-isms," from racism to agism to sexism and beyond. Even today our whole world is figuring out how to deal with the effects of coronavirus.
As I reflect on my own life, if I consider sharing stories of hardship one day with my children and other family members, I will likely be selective as my grandmother was. For example, this week has been trying for my husband and me, amidst social isolation from COVID-19 still going on, working from home, and struggles with the economy. On top of that, in a malicious neighborhood attack, a brick was thrown shattering our car window, and two of our tires were slashed. That means that we have been dealing with getting glass cleaned up and finding a replacement window to have installed. My husband had to put our spare tire on our car, and we had to find a second tire we could use just to drive the car to get replacement tires. While that greatly impacts my life this week, it is not likely a story I will remember to tell my kids years into the future.
What I would consider more valuable to share with future generations though is how we face and overcome adversity. What I would like my children to see one day is the patience I have learned and the growth demonstrated through facing challenges level-headed. This week I could have acted like I would have been more inclined in my childhood or youth, by throwing a tantrum or wanting to curse. I could have yelled and cried at the unfairness. I could have let my husband punch through a wall, as he probably felt like doing. But that isn’t what we did. Instead we took a few deep breaths. We stayed calm and then jumped right in, doing what we needed to do. We worked together to solve our problem. We were in it together, through calling the police to make a report and then starting the cleanup. While my husband sweated to put on the spare tire and started finding a second tire, I was able to begin the search for a replacement window.
One day we will have plenty of other stories about challenges to share with our children, such as when I felt called to move to Mexico to work three years in an orphanage and how I met and married my husband there. We can talk about our struggles as an interracial and bilingual couple, where at least one of us will always live outside our native country. Then we can also pass on advice to our kids about confronting and overcoming problems in a mature and respectable way.
What is your unique story? What adversity have you faced, and what challenges have you overcome? What life events and lessons have you lived through that are worth sharing and remembering? Do you have advice for future generations based on what you have lived and learned? I encourage you to share your story today.
If you’d like resources or help in telling your story, we at LifeBio would love to help. You can find us online at https://www.lifebio.com/, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 1-866-LIFEBIO (1-866-543-3246).