Life as we make it.

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.

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12 thoughts on “Life as we make it.

  1. Hey, sometimes we can just admit that we stink at basketball and be ok with it… even though we are 6 feet 4 inches tall and should be good at it… but just happen to be born without the ‘organized sports gene… Seriously, this one was moving and inspirational…

  2. This is one of my favorite posts I’ve read here. I got to see some of what you’re talking about after The Ex (who was then my husband) got severely burned. Some people would stare, some would try too hard not to look, some would ask questions. It bothered him, said he felt like a freak. It made my heart break for him and want to protect him. But I learned that, mostly, people aren’t mean and malicious but curious and unsure of how to act or what to say.

    • Most people really are nice. So how did he get burned, and is it still a problem for him? I have heard that burns can be pretty bad and have painful sensations for quite a while after the burn happens. It is a very strange feeling going from a normal person to a side show act (that is sometimes what it feels like) but we make it somehow. 😉

      • He wasn’t being safe with gas. Yes, it still bothers him at times and is painful. He has a lot of scar tissue and damage to his hearing in one ear. And I tell him his thermostat is broken because he thinks it’s hot and I’m cold. We argue over who’s wrong, he thinks it’s me. And our 7 yr. old has recently been wanting to show him off to his friends which does make him feel like a side show freak.

        • wow, that would be so hard. I know what it is like for people to stare and stuff. It helps for me when people ask and I can explain it. I hope if your 7 year old brings friends over that he will talk to them. Kids are curious, but once they know, sometimes they can help.

          • I am so glad you said that because my son and I have been in public before and seen people that are different and he stares, of course, and I explain to him it’s rude but he’s just so full of questions and some of them I don’t have answers for but have been tempted to take him over to the person and let him talk to them but I never do because I don’t know if they would be receptive to that or even understand that I’m trying to TEACH him because I feel that the more he understands about differences, the kinder, less scared, more compassionate and inclusive it will make him. Plus I’ve got the social anxiety thing. The Ex doesn’t mind at all when someone asks him, “Dude, what happened to you!?” But he has a problem when our son wants him to just show off his burns.

            • Yeah, that makes sense. It is a hard topic though because some people may not want to talk about it. I think that it would be better for you to take your son to ask than to just try to get him to stop, but honestly, I often just try to get my kids to stop too. I don’t especially like talking too much either, especially when the conversation might be uncomfortable.

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