In the last several weeks I have been reminded, time and again, of just how fortunate I am. I say this not to brag, but to give credit where credit is due.
How does a person escape his fate when, as a child, his family is separated, and he is moved from foster home to foster home, and made to work in the cotton fields? How does a person overcome growing up in a violent ghetto where gunshots are common sounds, food is scarce, and crime rampant? Let us not forget about alcoholic parents who have their own miseries, or the marks they leave upon their children (physical OR emotional) as their children cope with feelings of low self-worth. Divorce, too, leaves its mark on the dynamics of a family. I believe, when that happens, no single family member is ever the same again.
The individuals I know who have survived the kind of circumstances I’ve just described are strong people. They have courage and strength beyond anything I can ever imagine having. Some are in prison, some were in prison. Some never went to the kind of prison with guards and barbed wire, but they, nevertheless, fought the confines of inner struggles and they emerged victorious.
Yes, it is fortunate for me that I did not have to encounter adverse circumstances such as these. I have lived a relatively protected life, and while there have been times when I was out of work, or didn’t have much money, or struggled to like the people with whom I worked, I had it “easy” by comparison. So, why was I so blessed, and why did others struggle to such lengths? I do not have the answer.
I am certain of something else, though. Each and every person who has survived monumental challenges such as those described above, needs to also realize that he or she is blessed…and strong…and courageous. Those folks are survivors. They both deserve and have my admiration. My only answer today is that perhaps I got to see the “easy” side of life so that I could honor those who have struggled.
And I do. I hope that you, too, will honor the survivors in your life. Don’t just think it – tell them you admire them! For it is only through them, that we truly learn the meaning of what it is to be strong and courageous.