Schools of Life

Photo by Nils Stahl

Students rejoice when – at last! – they graduate and leave school days behind. But even if we don’t attend college, trade school, or a military academy, life has a way of forcing us through other schools.

These other schools aren’t made of brick and mortar. They’re seasons of life that teach us lessons we don’t learn in a classroom. 

For instance, years ago I knew a particular man. Truth be told, I sometimes avoided him. Not because he was bad, but because he held opinions that struck me as nutty, and he enjoyed sharing those opinions whether you wanted to listen or not. We were friends, but I didn’t highly value the friendship. Then came a summer when I needed to reroof the house. To save money, I put out a call for friends to lend a hand on Saturday. Many came! We didn’t bang out the whole job, but we made good progress. However, because I had to leave the country on Monday for a ministry trip, I needed to finish the roof on Sunday afternoon. Out of all my friends, guess which man showed up to help that second day—the one I had appreciated the least. The experience humbled me. God taught me that even people I hadn’t highly valued could be the very ones He sends to bless. 

For several years I’ve been in another season of life—caregiver to aging parents. This “school” has taught me about Medicare, Power of Attorney, etc. Just as important, I’ve had to learn lessons in patience, self-sacrifice and understanding. Caregiving even teaches that you don’t need to correct a person who firmly believes something that’s not true. (Just try to convince someone with dementia that a dream never actually happened!) 

This season of schooling has stretched me in ways I didn’t want to be stretched. Yet, through it all, God is there. He knows my situation. He knows where I’d rather be. But, as someone once noted, we usually pray for God to change our situation when God is wanting to change us. I guess my progress shows, since a family member says I’ve become kinder and gentler.

This year, a good friend shared this fact: “Happiness is a choice.” It’s true. Life might not turn out the way we want. We can find ourselves in seasons we’d rather skip. But rather than blame God or let circumstances rob our joy, we can rise above circumstances, focus on blessings, and choose to be happy anyway. 

That’s a lesson from life worth learning.

6 thoughts on “Schools of Life”

  1. Rick, I have a few of those degrees! It is tough to set aside your goals to take care of parents, but you are doing the right thing. We all admire you for taking care of Charlotte. You will never regret it. By the way, it is always better to go with them wherever they are in their mind than try to convince them otherwise! 😢

    1. Thank you, Becky. Part of this season includes 3 years of caring for Dad. Each “school” offers its own kind of lessons. 😉

  2. Good lessons, Rick! I was caregiver for my mother-in-law (in our home) for the last 16 years of her life– the last 8 confined to bed sometimes aware, sometimes not. And although it was more physical work when she was unable to be out of bed, it was less stress mentally because she wasn’t trying to run away from home. A lot of lessons to learn!

    1. So right, Jude. There’s great comfort in remembering that He knows and cares, and is working for good in ways we don’t even realize. Thanks for sharing!

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