People say that life is what you make of it, but I’m not so sure.
Of course there is an aspect to life that is able to be controlled, such as whether an abused child will grow up to abuse or cherish their own children. Or if someone who has been told that they stink at basketball will give up on it, or work harder and become legendary. Everyone knows someone who has made the best of what life has thrown at them…or someone who wallows in their own misery.
I guess the problem I have with that expression is that sometimes we are what life makes of us. The idea that someone who is born disfigured could have the same type of life as someone who is born beautiful doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, both could have productive happy lives, or either could commit suicide, but regardless, the circumstances of life’s events will affect them no matter how optimistic or pessimistic they are.
Part of the problem, especially here in America, is that we are control freaks. We want to believe that our veterans who have their legs blown off could choose to come back home and become motivational speakers if they wanted to. We don’t want to look at their disability as something that caused them to beg for change on the corner. Life is what you make of it, we tell ourselves. Rise above your circumstances. Make lemons into lemonade. Tell that to the woman who yearns to have a child, but is infertile. Tell that to the child who will never be able to run because of an abusive mother or father. Tell that to the starving people all over the world who have heard of a land where food is thrown away.
Life is what it makes of us. We can choose how respond to certain events, but I don’t think that pretending that you could rise above the heartbreak of losing a child is possible or even meant to be. Sometimes things happen that cause us to change. Is it a burn victim’s responsibility to have a great outlook on life and feel like she will be just as happy as she ever was, or is it our (life around her, people who see her) responsibility to show her that we see beyond her scars.
Hurting is okay. So is struggling under the weight of whatever load life has delivered. If you can’t see how to make life better, I pray that you will have others around you who let you grieve. Odds are, one day you will look back and see how the painful aspects of life helped to make you who you are, but until then, lets stop pretending that we and those around us are capable of becoming something we view as “better”. Lets stop ignoring our pain or others who are suffering. One of the most frustrating parts of being in a wheelchair is the difficulty people seem to have at looking at me or making eye contact. Things happen, people suffer. Just because we don’t like thinking about pain, doesn’t mean that we need to ignore it or rush to change it. Lets see people for who they are and help when we can, but realize that those motivational “pep talks” are sometimes the most harmful thing you can do when someone is hurting. Just love, and see, and cry with someone who is crying. Through that we can be a part of the life that “makes” others.