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Challenges
Mom with a View

Challenges

If you think life is supposed to run smoothly and easily, I can promise you a life of frustration.

by

We all want life to be easy -- a cruise along the Riviera, our daily 18 holes of golf, a tan and a drink...

So when life throws little wrinkles in the fabric, we rail against the unfairness. We bristle with frustration. "Why me?"

If you think life is supposed to run smoothly and easily, I can promise you a life of frustration. Your daily existence will never conform to your expectations, no matter what you do, no matter how much money you have.

Because life isn't meant to be like that. This is a world of challenge, since only through challenge do we really grow.

When we get married and raise a family, we have idealized images of what that family should be -- running the gamut from Leave It to Beaver to The Simpson's. Yet our family will never look like our imagination. It will never live up to those expectations. Because our lives our not fiction; it's composed of real people. This is a real world, with real limitations. If you expect family life to be all smooth sailing, you are in for a shock.

I once counseled a young man who expected his five (very) young children to sit in complete silence at the dinner table. He was tired and he needed his downtime. Needless to say the constant confounding of his expectations was a serious source of strife in their home.

Family life is messy -- marriage and child-raising can't be compartmentalized and stored in neat color-coded containers. We have to learn to roll with the punches.

As A. Roger Merrill and his wife Rebecca write in Life Matters, "One of the great benefits of family life is the incomparable interdependence and strength of character that come as a result of working through challenges together."

Not only shouldn't we be daunted by the mess, we should welcome it. "In fact, our ability to see the 'ideal' as strength to handle the challenge -- rather than the absence of challenge -- is what gives birth to the thoughts and actions that create...enduring family strength..."

It is only through the crucible of these difficulties that we become fully human and fully realized.

Frequently when our children are young (actually when they're older), we dream of the time when they're all out of the house. We fantasize about the peace and quiet. But I've heard (not having yet experienced it!) that once that actually occurs, you miss the noise. The mess. The chaos. The life.

No matter the external appearance, no one has a life free of challenges. Lacking the designer logo, our struggles are still custom-made for us. And it is only through them that our potential can be actualized.

Our patriarch Abraham had ten tests, each to bring out strengths hidden within. Although possibly overwhelmed, he didn't say, "I've had enough, I've grown enough. Whaddya say we stop at nine?" He wasn't looking for easy.

We are in danger of being seduced by a world where comfort is the goal. We are in danger of sacrificing our mission to be a light unto the nations. Because we think it should be easy, we risk the peril of never achieving true freedom. Abraham gave us the strength and the tools, and the recognition that it's good for us.

May the Almighty give us the strength to successfully maneuver through our challenges, and to reap the benefits of leaping in a world free from illusion.

Published: January 21, 2006


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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Barbara, January 31, 2006 12:00 AM

Hello!
I just read the 01/29 article. It's O.K.
I would like to focus on the words "to be a light for the nations...". Well, I think that I want to be a light for myself, to be my own light. Each human being, each Divine Creature will be my light, the Divine Sparkle of God and remind me that I have to be humble and that I am just a bit of dust who will return to dust.

Thank you for your words!
Barbara

(2) rahel bat akiva, January 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Thoughtful, down-to-earth perspective

To the grandfather who commented that he's appreciating the quiet, and that he doesn't want to turn back the clock...I totally understand, however, the words in this article are directed toward young parents in the throes of childrearing. I wholeheartedly agree with the author that having realistic expectations of our children allows us to plan accordingly. In addition, teaching them to respect us and our space" when necessary, can add to harmony in the home. Over and above that, we do need to take things in stride and expect the inevitable bumpy rides that come along. In the end, looking back, hopefully, those will seem few and far between. At least that's been my experience as a mother of a 25 and 29 year old. In the end, it's all good. Parents out there, just buckle-up, pray and enjoy the ride.

(1) B H Moore, January 22, 2006 12:00 AM

Give me peace or give me more turmoil

Miss the noise? Miss the mess? Miss the chaos? NO!! After 21 yrs. there is finally peace and quiet. Time to read, time to study during the day - not late at night when I'm tired. Regret those 21 yrs. No, not all of them. Miss the children, yes. They have turned out okay and are building beautiful families of their own. I can now sit back, enjoy and counsel when asked - in a quiet, relaxed environment. Go back, NO!! What is done is done. It is now time to move on into a new role that can be more demanding, that of grandfather and patriarch, but it can be done in peace and quiet that promotes reflexion and illumination.

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