This I Believe

Joanna - Madison, Wisconsin
Entered on January 29, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: birth
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Parting Gifts

I believe our challenges are also our gifts, and that the difficulties we face in life all hold very important lessons for us. It often isn’t until many years later that we are able to see how we have been made stronger by the problems we have faced. Our growth is never more apparent than when we watch a friend begin their journey down the same road we have walked. As I thought about a dear friend beginning her own dance with infertility I wrote her this letter:

Infertility is like a party- a big, year or two long party that no one really wants to go to. In fact, it is a pretty lousy party, not much fun at all. But by the time you get the invitation, you are already there. Perhaps it is your doctor that gives you the invitation, or a specialist, or perhaps just plain old time that gives you the nudge that this is one party you won’t be missing.

So we all show up at this party kicking and screaming. But since this party is held in our honor, we wipe our tears and look around the room. We see our mothers, our aunts, our sisters, and the lady down the street. The check-out lady is there, and so is the attorney, the school principal, and the taxi driver’s wife. When we see them at first we are surprised- “I didn’t know you were invited too…” we say. But when we start to talk with them and learn their stories we know that their grief is our own, and that we aren’t quite so alone.

There are parting gifts at this party, but most of us are so glad to leave when our time is up that we just throw them in our purse and forget they are there. Then one day, while we are looking for something else, we dig out a little box. Oh yes, our gift. We were looking for what to say to a sick friend, or perhaps how to handle some adversity that came our way and we found this little box in the bottom of our bag. We open it slowly, and there inside we find it. Endurance. Strength. Compassion. We were strong, and once walked through the fire she has made us stronger still. We have endured what would have once broken our hearts, devastated us, and come through with a strength that will not easily be silenced. And compassion. Our hearts have grown and now we can, without judgment, embrace each other in ways we couldn’t before. We know the true meaning of kindness, and the value of compassion. We understand a friends tears, and can’t help but wrap our arms around her in a warm, full embrace. We understand each other’s sorrow, and we gratefully share our strength. These are the gifts we give ourselves.

Our lives are filled with trials, and our greatest challenge perhaps isn’t the resolution of our problems, but moving past that to truly understand the lesson it teaches us. There are parting gifts at every party, even the ones we don’t want to attend. This I believe.