This morning my husband and I were reflecting on some poignant and growing moments along the journey of our lives and the passage of time. Each person has events happen – unique to only them – and we are no exception to this. It is our story – our ‘rite of passage‘ – our legacy.
Many times throughout our lives – we found ourselves in strange circumstances – only to be followed up by the bizarre and ridiculous. The stretching and growing things of life – born out of difficulty and contrary circumstances have given us balance and perspective. Nothing surprises us too much anymore – and we have learned to make it through any storm that life throws at us – wait it out – and know that the sun will shine again someday. And it always does.
It begins early in our life when seeking to gain independence. And what we always find – is that freedom has a cost.
Our daughter learned this when she moved out of her childhood home and into her own apartment. Things were free at home – but they came with a cost. House rules and limitations. Independence had a price tag – a very high price tag – but she was willing to pay it. Our son will have to learn the same thing when he is weary of living by our ‘rules’ at home. And grows beyond the constraints of Mom and Dad. He will feel his itchy feet feeling the need to establish himself in the real world – and to become independent from us – and become a man.
And so it is as we mature – and we develop our own ‘voice’. We have to count the cost – ask ourselves – “is it worth the price?” and most of the time – if we want it bad enough – it is. It means stepping out – taking a leap of faith and going for it – no matter what others say. This is how we gain wisdom and experience. Sometimes good experiences – sometimes bad. Sometimes we keep our cool – sometimes we don’t. But we learn. By necessity – we learn.
It is in those experiences that we earn our ‘life’ stripes. We get to a certain age and wear them proudly – displaying them in our faces – the many laugh lines and stress lines too – and in our bodies – worn out by wear and tear – year after year. This all too – is part of what we earn. Part of the lessons of life that you can’t teach to others – it is what you have to live through – experience – and be willing to make it through to the other side. Our ‘life’ stripes have bought us our independence and ‘our story’ – but it has also come at a very high price. Loss of friendships and of ideals. A new-found awareness that people can be unkind and even cruel – leading to a resignation of how things are. And how things will continue to be. A forever loss of innocence.
But in the midst of all of this ‘life’ – I’m proud to say that God has been at the center of everything we have ever gone through as a family – or as a married couple. We’ve made plenty of mistakes – and will continue to make them – because we are not perfect – in fact hopelessly flawed and in need of a Savior every day to save us from our selfish ways. I’m thankful that because of His great love and patience for us – we are able to do as well as we do – all with a sense of humor and kindness. He gives us our ‘life’ stripes and we proudly display them – day after day – year after year. And in this new ‘season’ of life that we have found ourselves in – we have found life to be very sweet – and God has replaced the bad with good – and given us way more than we deserve – a wonderful family and friends that are daily in our lives – supporting us and making us thankful every day. And when life seems hard and not fair – I find myself coming back to what I know. That He is good.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness – even when I am not faithful.
Thank you Lord for your patience – when I am so impatient.
Thank you for the hard lessons you have brought me through – even when I was unteachable and stubborn.
Thank you that I have the ability to look back over the years and see your hand over my life – for your protection and great love and for thinking me worthy enough to handle the strict discipline of your love.
Yes – I’ve earned them. I’ve earned my ‘life’ stripes.