OPINION – In an unpredictable world, many of us tend to look for patterns. Maybe it’s part of our human nature to want to make sense of seemingly random things.
When the death of a celebrity is announced, ever notice how people start talking about how bad things “come in threes”? Typically, when a famous person dies, media starts anxiously casting about for the other two deaths that will confirm the pattern.
As far as I know, scientists have yet to confirm that this idea is anything other than societal superstition.
Perhaps we look for those dubious connections to put to rest any worries that some other challenge may be headed our way. As in, “Whew, I’m glad that after my fender bender, I spilled my coffee at work and cut my finger while fixing dinner. Now nothing bad can happen to me.”
Events that cause upheaval tend to leave us looking for a reasonable explanation – even when the upheaval is a potentially positive one.
Still, I have to wonder if multiples of trials or triumphs aren’t part of some grander design.
For example, 1996 was not what I’d call an easy year for my young family. It was definitely an adventure. It was one of those years in which we experienced the full “circle of life.”
In early March, we joyously welcomed our daughter Brooke into our home. A few weeks later, we bid my grandfather Forrest Badger farewell as his life ended.
In July, I accepted a new job and we moved far away from our families to live in St. George.
In retrospect, there was a fair amount of stress connected with each of these events. Some of it was short-term, the rest took longer to resolve or to become the new normal.
At the time we were going through these changes, there was a lot of discomfort. However, looking back on the multiple challenges of that year, it’s clear that our family grew in needed and positive ways.
Brooke’s birth was a home birth and when our midwife was called away unexpectedly, it appeared that we might have to deliver our baby without her. Fortunately, the midwife returned in time for Brooke’s birth but those few hours were a powerful growing experience.
Becky and I both learned that we could be courageous and self-sufficient by pulling together in a time of need. Our marriage was stronger as a result.
Likewise, there was sorrow at my grandfather’s passing but his death was also accompanied by a renewed sense of love and connection between his family members. It wasn’t so much that we had been estranged as we had allowed life to take us in many different directions.
Siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins alike have all benefited from the strengthening of our family ties. This has been evident as we’ve gathered to bid farewell to other loved ones. We’re learning not to take one another for granted.
Our move to a new home far away from our families was among the biggest challenges we faced that year. To relocate to a city where we knew no one and where nothing was guaranteed took a lot of faith.
To our amazement, we learned that when nothing is certain, anything is possible. Our expectations were exceeded in every possible way.
Doors were opened to us and relationships forged that could never have happened had everything remained in comfortable stasis. Of course, these are things that are most easily recognized only as we look back and connect the dots.
I share these observations in the hopes that others who are experiencing some sort of personal upheaval or challenge might consider the silver lining we often overlook.
Facebook and other social media can lead us to conclude that others are leading charmed lives without worry or care. In reality, there’s not a person alive who isn’t being challenged by life at some level.
As one who spent far too much time fighting the inevitable changes that attend life’s journey, it’s liberating to accept that change will come with or without our permission.
Much of it will be beyond our control. At the same time, how we choose to respond to that change is the one area where we have absolute control.
This year is shaping up to be another one of those “circle of life” years for our family. We’re dealing with two job changes, relocating to a new area, a loved one with a life-threatening illness and the approaching birth of our first grandchild.
The stress and worry are real. The difficulty level of life definitely seems to be increasing.
Even so, I can’t help but anticipate a time, perhaps years from now, when we’ll look back on this year with a mixture of gratitude and appreciation for the growth it provided.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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