(Growing Through Experiences)
There have been so many things that have brought unbelievable joy to my life – and for those experiences – all of those “cheers” – I will be forever grateful.
I have to say that I had a good life growing up. My parents, although not demonstrative about it, did love me. They provided a nice home with the necessities of life. We had fun family vacations and holidays – sometimes spent with our extended family and/or friends, adding to the enjoyment.
Although not very fond of school, it was for the most part a positive experience for me. I was an average student that could have done better if I had applied myself a bit more. When I got to high school, I did not run in the circle of the most popular, but I did have some wonderful girlfriends as well as boyfriends and dates – therefore I enjoyed the social aspect of school. When I went to college (for 1 year) I had plenty of dates to make the social side of academics a lot of fun – I studied just enough so as to not flunk out – I primarily majored in boys!
Aside from the little lover’s quarrels that relationships in high school and college yielded and the inevitable differences with parents – all of which sometimes make you believe the world is coming to an end – things were pretty normal for me. That is until at the age of 20, just a few short weeks before I was to be married – my Dad died at age 42. He and I had just very recently cemented our relationship after much head-butting over the years, so his death was hard for me to handle. I wanted to postpone my marriage because I was going to be moving 1600 miles away from my Mom and 2 younger brothers; but, she insisted that I go ahead with my plans. I did, but being so far away from them at that time was really hard on me emotionally. However, I grew through the experiences.
I married shortly before turning 21 to a handsome, personable man that I believed I loved fully and completely believed that he felt the same. We had some wonderful times together, especially in the early years of our marriage. Sixteen days before turning 23 I had my first child – a daughter. She was healthy, precious and beautiful. According to my Mom – she was what I had been wanting since I was 5 years old. Six+ years later I had my son. He was a handsome, healthy and affectionate child, making my family complete. I loved every minute of being pregnant and adored being a mother.
Along with the good always seems to come the less-than-pleasant – and the “tears” come along. None of us enjoy having negative, sad, difficult things intrude into our lives. But, we would probably have to agree that most, if not all, of the less pleasant experiences help us to grow in some way, therefore we should be thankful for them as well.
There were some very difficult and painful issues in my marriage over time. I stayed in it for over 31 years; however, when I had finally had enough, I got out of the marriage. Regardless of all the pain, I grew through the experiences.
There were also the difficult times when situations with my children were scary, disheartening, difficult and frustrating. All parents know that raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart and there are times that it is just not a happy experience – no matter how deeply you love them. But, I still grew through the experiences.
The 20+ years of being single has brought a real mix of cheers and tears into my life. I rediscovered the real me. I discovered that there was still a fun world out there to enjoy. I discovered that I was still very capable of experiencing true and very deep love. I discovered that I could make some really good decisions – all really good things. I also learned that I could make some REALLY bad decisions; and, I learned that even a deep love can still severely hurt. Nonetheless, I have grown through all those experiences.
My life still continues in this learning vein. One of the very negative experiences I had with a relationship shattered my self-confidence for a time, it took me about 2 years to recover. But I needed those 2 years, because that gave me the time necessary to realize that although I WANTED a partner in my life, I did not NEED a partner – and I can manage without one. I realized that in order for someone else to love me, I have to love myself. I realized that it is up to me to generate my own happiness – it is not the responsibility of someone else. I have learned that I am a survivor. Yes, I have definitely grown through the experiences.
I believe that many times, maybe even most times, when going through a “tears phase”, we just need to change our perspective. Instead of trying to do it all ourselves, we should release it to One that is so much more powerful than ourselves. Proverbs 3:5 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
The value of growing through all our experiences – most especially through the tears – is explained well in Romans 5:2b-5: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.” (NIV)
I believe I have grown through all my experiences and I am a better person as a result of all the Cheers and Tears of my Heart! I know that I have not seen the end of the tears in my life and hopefully I never see the end of the cheers in my life. I hope as you look back over your life you can find the value in all of your own Cheers and Tears – because “hope does not disappoint…”
Written by Karran Martin
Originally December 15, 2010 – Revised and updated November 18, 2018